But new shelter has exposed a gap in social service provision A refuge centre for ethnic minority migrants and asylum-seekers, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, has exposed a wide gap in social service provision. The Anthony Lawrence International Refuge for Newcomers to Hong Kong opened in September and already has more referrals than it can handle. More than 20 people have sought shelter at the centre. It is operated by the Hong Kong branch of International Social Service (ISS), a non-governmental organisation, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), human rights lawyers and other agencies. The North Point centre, a four-bedroom home complete with computer, was named in honour of Anthony Lawrence, 91, a volunteer with the ISS since 1974 and chairman of its advisory commitee between 1988-2002. The shelter caters to non-Chinese immigrants to Hong Kong and non-Chinese residents who need temporary shelter, particularly those who find it difficult to access services, and to asylum-seekers in need. They may be referred by lawyers, social service agencies, church groups and the cash-strapped UNHCR office in Hong Kong, which recently reduced the cash allowance to asylum-seekers and refugees. Residents have included women escaping the practice of female genital mutilation in Africa, the sister of a Filipino maid struck ill in Hong Kong and South Asian asylum-seekers. Filipinos, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Africans have been among the residents living together in the shelter. Asylum-seekers often end up sleeping at the Star Ferry or working illegally while their applications are pending review by the UNHCR, which can take several months. Many end up in Victoria Prison on administrative detention during this time. 'There is a gap in service for non-Chinese migrants to Hong Kong that we are trying to fill here,' ISS social worker Adrielle Panares said. 'You can't find a service like this in Hong Kong ...victims of marital rape or domestic violence who are non-Chinese don't know where to go,' she said. Residents share the cooking and cleaning and have two live-in social workers to turn to for support. 'Nobody is required to seek counselling, but we offer it and encourage them to learn and improve themselves while they are here,' Ms Panares said. Lawrence, a retired foreign correspondent and founding member of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, said he was thrilled to have been honoured in such a way and hoped more such centres would be made possible by the generosity of Hong Kong people.