We are recruiting!

                                  JOB ADVERT

Job Title:                  Project Development Worker

Employer:                 Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG) Wales

Location:                  Cardiff, Wales

Responsible to:      Line Manager

Travel:                      Local to Cardiff

Job Type:                 Part Time (15 hrs per week)

Duration:                  9 months

Salary:                       £10/hr

Closing Date to Apply:      12th January 2019

Interview Date:        19th January 2019

Start Date of Position:   ASAP after the interview

Introduction

Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG) are a lobbying, advocacy and research group which works with and for refugee women and their families to bring about positive change in the refugee system and to enhance the ability to rebuild lives.

The TAKING WOMEN FORWARD PROJECT is funded by the Big Lottery Awards for All and is a 12-month project set up Voluntary Community Champions from asylum seeking and refugee women in South Wales and to develop a mentoring project for women seeking sanctuary.

Purpose of the Position

The Development Officer will recruit and organise training for Voluntary Community Champions from amongst asylum seeking and refugee women.  The post holder will also set up a mentoring project for women seeking sanctuary. They will be key to the delivery of the activities/services offered by WSSAG through the Project.

 JOB DESCRIPTION

  • The Development Worker will be responsible for delivering the TAKING WOMEN FORWARD PROJECT. The project will deliver a range of activities/services aimed at supporting female asylum seekers.
  • To recruit, train and manage Volunteer Community Champions women from asylum seeking and refugee communities
  • To develop a mentoring project in partnership with existing WSSAG members and enable women to build confidence, access services and education and make connections within local communities.
  • Be responsible for expanding the membership of WSSAG, helping more women in need of support
  • To organise and manage volunteers
  • To be the main point of contact for the members and lead the organisation’s activities, ensuring that a holistic support service can be accessed by women seeking sanctuary in South Wales
  • To keep clear records and prepare reports and preparations to the Board of Trustees and Funders
  • To research the needs of new activities; maintain a register of the known activities
  • To attend meetings to represent WSSAG as required
  • To keep up to date information, records and statistics for project monitoring purpose
  • To prepare project report as requested and monthly reports to the Line Manager.
  • To comply with the working practices of WSSAG.

Please note that the above outlines the main responsibilities, however due to the small size of the organisation, the role may require duties outside of this description so a willingness to be flexible is required.

PERSON SPECIFICATION

This post is subject to an enhanced disclosure and barring check and is open to women only under the Equality Act 2010 pursuant to Schedule 9, Part 1.

Experience

  • We are looking for someone with direct experience with the asylum seeking community.
  • Wide range of life experiences and an understanding of the sensitive issues often faced by asylum seekers.
  • Experience in developing and leading projects.
  • Proven ability to work both in a team and on an individual basis.
  • Experience of managing an office
  • IT and social media
  • Working in partnership with other organisations within the sector
  • The preferred candidate must have a good level of English, both verbal and written.

Qualifications: No specific qualifications are required; however the successful candidate must be able to show that they have a right to work in the UK.

Personal Qualities: The preferred candidate would be an approachable person who is very patient and displays sensitivity to the issues often faced by asylum seekers.

How to Apply and for Further Information:

Please e-mail your CV and a covering letter to: wssagwales@yahoo.co.uk

Send it to: 3 North Church Street, Cardiff CF10 5HB.

Deadline for applications: 12th January 2019.

Advertisements

Thank You Note

We received a wonderful letter from one of our families who were recently granted leave to remain in the UK. Here are some quotes from the letter they sent us:

“We would like to say a BIG THANKS to Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group in Cardiff for all the help, assistance and advice provided!

We approached WSSAG in the end of 2014 when we knew no one in Cardiff and we needed some advice about our status in the UK. With the help of WSSAG we have changed solicitor who helped us to win our case.

We have often been for drop-in at this organisation, and the atmosphere was always friendly, cheerful and trustful.

Communication with women in this group made us feel safe and relaxed.

I think organisations like WSSAG are very important for women from different countries!”

Letters like these show what a difference our organisation can make in the lives of women and families seeking sanctuary.

Weekly activities

Here’s an overview of some weekly activities at WSSAG:

  • Mondays: Digital Skills class from 10am-1pm.
  • Tuesdays: Support Group from 10am-12pm (every other week).
  • Wednesdays: Job Club from 9.30am-12pm.
  • Thursdays: English Classes from 10am-12pm.
  • Fridays: English Classes from 10am-12pm
  • Every other Saturday: Drop In, Donations and Time For A Chat.
  • Last Tuesday of the month: Coffee Morning.

We regularly post on Twitter and Facebook about these and other events. So make sure you follow us!

Free Life In The UK Tests Online

Are you preparing for British Citizenship exams? Do you know people who are? Please pass on this information to them. The website  www.lifeintheuktestweb.co.uk was created by Monica. After passing her own test, she created this website to help people prepare for their exam. The website provides numerous tests covering all 6 chapters of the official handbook Life in the UK: A Guide for New Residents. It has been created aiming to be user friendly and it offers the option to take the tests by chapter, so users can practice as they go through the book. It also contains a section with the study materials, where users can check the contents of the book. Recent news where the website has been included are: Migrants’ Rights Network (http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2015/new-free-website-practice-life-uk-test), Brighton City College (http://www.ccb.ac.uk/public/news/Former-student-creates-free-resource-for-aspiring-citizens/809) and the Brighton Unemployment Centre (http://www.bucfp.org/courses/prepare-for-your-citizenship-test/). There is also a YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjIzmL1Gk15VUn-uDbcr4yg and a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/lifeintheuktestgroup). Thank you Monica! And good luck to all of you who are preparing for tests.

Digital Activism project

We have started our Digital Activism project in April 2015. The sessions run every Monday from 10am-1pm in our Butetown offices and they are free. If you are interested in joining you are very welcome – or if you know of women who would be, please pass on this information.

The aims of the project are to build up or enhance digital skills and expertise, to increase internet participation and to enable learners to find routes into employment, engage in further education and improve communication opportunities.

There will be a wide range of topics covered, a.o:

  • Basic IT skills
  • Online Safety
  • Online Communication (e.g. e-mail, Skype, IM)
  • Social Media
  • Online Campaigning
  • Blogging / Digital Storytelling
  • Health and Research
  • Microsoft Office applications

We are grateful to the Big Lottery Fund, Red Nose Day and the Community Foundation in Wales for supporting this project!

English Classes for beginners

  From Wednesday November 5th, we will be running English classes for beginners at our Office in Butetown (3 North Church Street, CF10 5HB)

Every Wednesday from 10-12

              http://volinaserban.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/learn-a-language-with-fun_0.png

                WOMEN ONLY CLASSES

For more information, please call 07902562111 or 02921320635

Honour Based Violence Workshop

WSSAG Wales has invited Joanne Payton, IKWRO’s Information and Research officer, to host an hour long workshop on Honour Based Violence (HBV) on Saturday 14th June at our office on 3 North Church Street.

4290103-divine-lightnings-from-above-broke-a-chain-on-cloudy-sky

We will be open from 1-3pm and the session is open to women from all backgrounds to attend. Children are also welcome.

There will be refreshments provided and local transport tickets will be refunded.

Walking for Dignity from Bristol to Cardiff

flyer front final copy

WSSAG Wales has been invited to join the Dignity March Bristol to Cardiff!

We invite you to come and join us too, in the 5 day march from Bristol to Cardiff, starting from the Malcolm X Centre, City Road, Bristol at 3pm, 29th May and ending at the Home Office building, Newport Road, Cardiff on 2nd June.

banners

Dignity for Asylum Seekers are a group of asylum seekers, refugees and allies. Over the past 2 years they have organised big marches in Bristol to raise awareness of destitution and detention. This year they are planning a solidarity walk at the same time as a bigger walk from Strasbourg to Brussels, to protest against the tightening of Borders across Europe, to resist the system of forced destitution and to raise awareness about issues facing asylum seekers in the UK and Bristol.

The march will meet with groups along the way and learn from each other. We are planning a demonstration at UK Border Agency’s offices on Newport Road, Cardiff on Monday 2nd June. We invite groups and individuals to join us and walk together against the violence of Fortress Europe.

flyer back final copy

Walking for Freedom

In the many countries we come from we could not practice freedom. We were forced to leave to seek safety, freedom and equality. We have walked many journeys to get to the UK. Many people lost their lives along the way, trying to cross in to Fortress Europe. Since 1990, 20,000 people have died in the Mediteranean region as a result of Border Controls. No human is illegal. No human should die.

Abolish Dublin III, Frontex, Eurosur and Fingerprinting

We made it. Luckier ones. But we have to continue walking. We are scared that we will be put in to detention prisons and deported. We feel sad for our friends who are already in detention centres or who have been deported. We are motivated by the migrant protest march in Europe and want to come together here in the UK with many people so we can also walk to seek freedom and dignity.

Stop Detention and Deportation of Refugees and Migrants

We are an advantage to the UK. We want to be allowed to contribute, to pay taxes. Instead, the Home Office is a nightmare to us. We have to wait long time, often many years, for an answer to our asylum claim. They put us through inhumane interviews and then wrongly refuse our asylum cases and our lives are stuck for years, prohibited from working or from claiming benefits. The government politices make many of us destitute. We are frustrated that we are scapegoated for problems we did not cause.

Freedom of Movement and Residency for All

We are the backbones of you here. Migrants do many jobs which keep this country going and contribute a lot in taxes. Also, many white British people have been in our countries: Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe. They went to our country to exploit us, to bring resources back here. Yet, when we come here, they treat us as non-entities. This is racist and injust.

Freedom and Dignity for all

Learn First Aid Skills with British Red Cross

british-red-cross

On Saturday 12th April, we will be holding a special training session where all our members can learn First Aid skills for free at a British Red Cross training session.

The session will take place in our office space from 1-4pm and free refreshments will also be provided.

For more information about learning First Aid please go to the website here

Children in Wales Workshop

Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales is proud to offer a workshop with Children in Wales on Saturday 22nd February 2014.

childreninwales

The workshop will include vital information for asylum seeking and refugee mothers as it will go in to detail on the rights of children in Wales and their entitlements.

This workshop open to all women and their children but will particularly assist women born outside the UK.

Please come early. Valid tickets for transport will be refunded and refreshments will be provided.

Free Legal Workshop with Rights of Women in 2014

rights-of-women


After a very well attended and informative workshop in October, WSSAG Wales is proud to be working in partnership with Rights of Women to host the second of two free legal workshops at our new building
at 3 North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff, CF10 5HB

10.30 – 2.30pm Thursday 9th January 2014
Asylum refusal, advice on financial support and more

With a short question and answer session at the end

To download a poster for the event, please click here

Women on the Move Awards

Above is a special video of an inspirational woman! Our very own Constance explains what life was like for her and how she has made Cardiff her home. You can also see highlights from one of our open day events.

The Women on the Move Awards celebrates and supports the contribution that migrant and refugee women, the media and their champions can make towards facing down prejudice, supporting integration and inspiring others.

If you would like to know more about the awards or nominate someone, please visit their website

Also you can see their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/womenonthemoveawards

Two Free Legal Lunches with Rights of Women

rights-of-women


WSSAG Wales is working in partnership
with Rights of Women http://www.row.org.uk/
to host two free legal workshops at our new building
at 3 North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff, CF10 5HB

12-14.30 Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Overview of asylum law and claiming asylum

(new date) 10.30-2.30pm 9th January 2014
Asylum refusal, advice on financial support and more

With a short question and answer session at the end

To download a poster for the event, please click here

WSSAG Moves House

Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales is proud to announce we have moved to our new premises and will be holding meetings, workshops and other gatherings there from now on.

Our new address is 3, North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff, CF10 5HB.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 17.02.41

Saturday 12th October will be the first meeting of many in our new building and we are all very excited for what the future holds… We will now be able to accept donations of toys and books for the children, clothes, (non-perishable) food and toiletries for the benefit of our members.

Many thanks to all who have helped us in our journey so far and those who continue to support us in our work.

Refugee Awareness Open Day

Adamsdown.jpg

WSSAG invites you to come and celebrate our Refugee Awareness Open Day

Saturday June 22nd (1-5pm) at Adamsdown Resource Centre

Awareness raising open day on the plight of people seeking sanctuary in Wales and in Cardiff in particular

Discussion and sharing of experiences about the issues people seeking sanctuary face will be held around a free international lunch

Children welcome – crèche provided

Refugee Week Wales.jpg

Congratulations Constance!

constance6

On Friday 8th March 2013, members of WSSAG Wales attended The 2013 Migrant and Refugee Woman of the Year Awards Ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

constance3

We were incredibly proud to be there to support our very own founder Constance Nzeneu as she was jointly awarded Migrant Woman of the Year along with Remzije Sherifi, who runs Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) in Scotland. Constance was handed her award by Nazek Ramadan, founder of Migrant Voice, and winner of the 2012 award.

constance4
constance2
constancemigrantforum

It was a truly inspirational evening, full of hope and achievements and wonderful women. It has empowered our members to dream big and aim high. We at WSSAG Wales want to thank Migrant Forum for the event and to add our CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners!!

wssag2

To read more about the Migrant and Refugee Woman of the Year awards night, please click here

Bring Them Back!

*Warning, the following video may be distressing to watch*

I first met Mrs Saleh in Cardiff in 2010 with one of her daughters. Her claim for asylum had been refused and she had no understanding of the asylum process and no legal representatives. She was frightened and confused about what would happen to her and her children. At that time the fear showed visibly on her face and she found it very difficult to relax or communicate.

We invited her to join Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group, a grassroots self-help group for women seeking asylum in South Wales. When Mrs Saleh started coming to the group, she was very quiet, just listening and taking in the information, over time she received emotional support and began to feel able to speak about her situation, which is when I gradually came to hear her story.

Mrs Saleh had been abused and threatened by her violent husband in Egypt for many years, but was unable to seek help from the authorities because of his close ties with the police and judiciary. Her husband had also made one of their members of staff pregnant, and the staff member’s father then threatened Mrs Saleh and her children. Mrs Saleh knew that her life and the life of her children were in danger from this vendetta feud and no-one in Egypt would protect them. This led her to claim asylum in the UK in 2007.

Refugee case law shows that if a woman is at risk of serious harm from family members or other individuals, in a situation where her state refuses to provide any protection, she may cross borders to seek sanctuary. Unfortunately, Ms Saleh ran into many of the problems that women face when they claim asylum from gender-related persecution. She was confronted by the culture of disbelief which has long been documented at the Home Office. Ms Saleh began her claim using another nationality in order to safeguard her youngest daughter, who was still in Egypt. She was scared that her daughter would be targeted if it came out that she had claimed asylum in the UK. As soon as her youngest daughter got to the UK Ms Saleh corrected her story, but this initial falsehood, which she created for understandable reasons, has been used against her throughout her claim.

Mrs Saleh had other difficulties during her asylum claim. She had poor translation from interpreters who were provided during interviews, and she went to court in the early stages without legal representation. Her first lawyers did not properly authenticate documents that were provided as evidence, including a crucial “House of submission” order that her husband had issued in Egypt, which would mean that if found anywhere in Egypt the police had powers to bring Mrs Saleh to her husband. Mrs Saleh’s current legal representatives also recently brought new evidence to the UK Border Agency, including an expert witness report with clear detail about the danger for someone in her position in Egypt. However, these documents have not been considered. Last week Ms Saleh was still living in hope that she would receive a fair hearing from the UK Home Office as an upcoming oral hearing for judicial review had been set for November.

Yet without warning on 18 October at 6am in Cardiff, Ms Saleh and her two younger children were dragged from their home by UK Border Agency staff. A video of this dawn raid has been viewed more than 12,000 times on Youtube; in it you can see Ms Saleh’s older daughter, Shrouk, crying on the steps as her mother is dragged away. Shrouk has an independent asylum claim and was not detained or deported.

Due to a security mix-up, the family were not immediately forced on a flight to Cairo, they were instead driven to Cedars family detention centre in Crawley. The UKBA then chartered a flight to Egypt, at a cost of £60,000, a price we have never heard of before for the removal of one family. Mrs Saleh and her children were only made aware of the charter flight late on Tuesday evening, just before offices were due to close. The flight was booked for 8am Wednesday morning, before any offices were due to open, forcing the legal representatives to seek an out of hours judge and try and gain an injunction to cancel the flight.

Supporters were beside themselves with worry. Mrs Saleh said this to supporters: “When I first arrived here, [in the UK] I felt human again, that me and my children deserve to live a life with no fears and with freedom, but now, after they have been trying to remove me forcibly, I remember life in Egypt and how we would be treated as slaves and the danger that would be waiting for us. I look at my children and my eyes are immediately full of tears.”

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, at the thought of being forcibly removed, Mrs Saleh cut her wrists in the bathroom of the detention centre and wrote in blood on the walls that she only wanted to save her children. Mrs Saleh has been through tremendous ordeals in her home country, and was clearly not in any fit state to be detained, let alone to be deported. She received no care or acknowledgement of what she did by staff at the centre, instead being asked to remove her blood soaked clothes and given new ones to hide what had happened. This directly violates procedures which staff at Cedars and other detention centres are meant to follow for those at risk of harm to themselves or others.

That night the legal representatives managed to secure an injunction which effectively cancelled the flight. However, after around half an hour, without following proper procedures to appeal this injunction, the UKBA called the judge and asked him to change his mind, due to the enormous expense they had gone to by chartering a £60,000 private flight. Friends and supporters had driven to Cedars detention centre on Tuesday night to show their support for Mrs Saleh and her children, and once they found out about the unjust actions of the UKBA, attempted to block the coach from leaving. They received heavy handed treatment. One supporter wrote this afterwards: “So my friend’s family were deported. I am distraught. I am also in shock and a great deal of pain, having been subject to a completely unprovoked physical assault by two police while trying to peacefully prevent the coach that was to take them to the airport from entering the Cedars Detention Centre. All I did was stand in the road, linking arms with other friends of the family. I did nothing aggressive, didn’t even say anything that could in anyway be construed as aggressive. Yet I was assaulted so forcefully (hit in my back as I was held face down in the mud, arms twisted up behind my back) that I was screaming in pain and left incapable of standing, even moving.”

The coach left Cedars at around 6.30am and drove to Stansted Airport to remove the family on the private plane. We heard that Mrs Saleh’s son experienced force from the private security guards who were escorting him, something he had expressed fear over when speaking to his sister, as he had heard this has happened to other people in the past. As he is only 17, this is directly opposed to the recommendations from the Director of Prisons, who had just released a report on Cedars, saying that force used against minors and pregnant women should not be used.

The current legal representatives have since made an application to the Court of Appeal, believing as we do that this forced removal was not only unjust, but unlawful. Mrs Saleh and her children are in hiding in Egypt, but should the Court of Appeal decide that this treatment was unlawful then the UKBA may be asked to locate them and bring them back.

WSSAG Wales is a grassroots advocacy group run by asylum seeking and refugee women. We have heard countless first hand examples of the mistreatment of people seeking sanctuary and know only too well how mistakes can cost the lives of those who should be protected. We hope that the bravery of Ms Saleh and her children in speaking out about their treatment will help others to understand what is happening to those who seek asylum from persecution in the UK.

We call for the safe return of Mrs Saleh and her children, back to Cardiff and the community where she had been rebuilding her life.

TO TAKE ACTION:

To join the campaign created by friends and supporters, please go to facebook savesalehfamily

There are also a petition, a way of voting on 38degrees and you can also find out more information from the LGBT Excellence Centre here:

The organisation called National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) have also written an article, which you can find here.

Mrs Saleh and Family Belong in Cardiff

An Egyptian mother and her two teenage children desperately need protection – detained yesterday, the family are once again under threat of removal.

“Voluntary leave was offered along with £500 and if voluntary leave is not taken then the government said they would forcibly send us back home. Even if they offer a million pounds for voluntary leave,
what use would it be if the result is death?”

-the eldest daughter of Mrs. Saleh

Background

Mrs. Saleh, an Egyptian national, applied for asylum in the UK after escaping an abusive and cruel husband whose acts endangered her and her children’s lives for over 15 years to the extent of death and rape. The Egyptian authorities ignored this domestic abuse as her husband has close links with police, judges and other officials. The entire family is under serious threat of honour-based violence and possibly even death if deported back to Egypt. Simply setting foot in Egypt again leads the family to fear for their lives seeing as they could not ask for protection from the authorities, knowing that they have close ties with her husband. The family believes if they are removed to Egypt they would be forced into hiding.

Upon arrival to the UK, out of extreme concern for her youngest daughter who was still in Egypt, Mrs. Saleh told the authorities that she was from Iraq. Fearing the Egyptian government would be contacted once they discovered Mrs. Saleh had sought asylum, she chose to wait until after her 13 year old little girl safely made it to the UK before correcting the inaccurate information she had previously provided to the UKBA. Mrs. Saleh did not know that her doing this would later be used against her. From the UKBA’s cold perspective, Mrs. Saleh’s credibility had been critically jeopardised — subsequently used as justification for her and her children’s asylum refusal.

The family submitted many pieces of evidence to back up their case, however the previous legal representatives had not translated them through a certified translator, so they were disregarded by the UKBA. These documents were withheld when the current solicitor used the data protection act to ask for a copy of all the paperwork (SAR) that they hold on file for Mrs Saleh’s case. The UKBA in fact only sent part of the requested SAR, and to date have not sent the rest.

Risk of Return
After five years living and growing up in Cardiff, the family have integrated into the local community. Mrs. Saleh is an active member of the Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG) self-help group and her two teenage children, risk being ripped from the lives they have established here, the connections they have made, and the very place that has provided the environment necessary for them to learn, grow, and develop in peace. Mrs Saleh’s son had just began a course in electronic engineering, this September. In the words of Lucy Jade, supporter and WSSAG member, “This family belong to Cardiff and deserve our protection. To return them to Egypt now would not only traumatically disrupt a crucial period of development in a child’s life, it could risk ending their lives altogether. “

The family were taken forcibly from their home yesterday (18th October) in the morning at around 7am. They were taken to the airport immediately with the intention of being removed on a Egyptair flight at 3pm. A ‘technical error’ prevented them from being put on to the flight, so the family were taken to Cedars detention centre in Crawley.

Mrs. Saleh said, “When I first arrived here, [in the UK] I felt human again, that me and my children deserve to live a life with no fears and with freedom, but now, after they have been trying to remove me forcibly, I remember life in Egypt and how we would be treated as slaves and the danger that would be waiting for us. I have had a few nervous breakdowns, not being able to eat or sleep. I look at my children and my eyes are immediately full of tears”

To learn more about the family’s situation, as it happens, please check out the facebook page

Members of staff from the high street store – Lush – in Swansea have previously taken Mrs Saleh’s campaign to the streets collecting signatures on their behalf.

TAKE ACTION
A petition has been started and is still gathering signatures here. Please can sign it and circulate it to show your support.

We are asking if you could contact the Home Secretary and call on them to delay the removal until all aspects of the case are lawfully considered. You can use this model letter as a template but please write using your own words if possible. Also please include Mrs Saleh’s Home Office reference number in your letter.

To email the Home Secretary, please use the following addresses:

mayt@parliament.uk
UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk
CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

To post:
Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St
London
SW1P 4DF

Fax: 0207 035 4745

You can also contact the Minister for Immigration to ask him to defer removal until after the the case has gone to court in November.

Immigration Minister – Mark Harper MP

mark.harper.mp@parliament.uk

Free Asylum Support Training for Women

If you are seeking asylum and have a problem with your Asylum Support or you are facing destitution, come along to a free training session.

Saturday 27th October 2012 from 1pm – 4pm

ASYLUM SUPPORT APPEALS PROJECT (ASAP)
with Gerry Hickey – Women’s Legal Adviser

Topics that will be covered:
* Overview of the Asylum Support System
* Section 95
* Section 4
* Appeals

There will also be an opportunity for Question & Answers about Asylum Support.

ASAP is a legal advice charity that specialises in asylum support law. ASAP provide free representation for asylum seekers appealing decisions to refuse or discontinue their support.

Stories are Never Left Behind – Swansea

WRITING ABOUT JOURNEYS AND PICTURES
There are stories everywhere: about people and places, beautiful things, sad things, good things. For refugees even things that you have left behind are still in your mind. You keep telling yourself stories about your mother, your grandfather, your friend, your house… things only you know about.

Creative Writing can help you write your memories down as stories or poems, make them beautiful so they last. We can look at your photographs and talk about your journeys. This is for you first and for your family. Second it is so that other people can try to understand what it is like to lose everything and start again. You don’t need to be a poet or write English really well to do this.

WHY PHOTOGRAPHS AND JOURNEYS?
In June City of Sanctuary and Swansea Museum set up a wonderful exhibition for Refugee Week that shows what life is like for asylum seekers and refugees. It is full of photographs and people telling their stories.

Photographs, are important; even photographs that have been lost. They remind you of your old life and remind you of your journey to the UK.

Picture: Romisa Asadi

WHO CAN COME?
There will be two sessions just with asylum seeker and refugee women and there will be a third one anyone can come to.

WHEN AND WHERE IS IT?
We will do some writing in the exhibition in Swansea Museum 11-1.00 on Wednesdays 8th and 15th August. The open session is the following Wed 22nd.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
Swansea City of Sanctuary will pay for one child-care worker for two sessions of two hours each so that women can write in peace. We can also pay bus fare.

We will make and sell a booklet of the poems and stories that are written and there will be a reading at the end of the exhibition.

ARE YOU INTERESTED?
Please contact Jeni Williams through WSSAG Wales

Rights of Women

Today we hosted a fantastic workshop by Rights of Women, where Sheona York gave detailed information of the rights of asylum seeking women in the UK. We were lucky enough to have this workshop just after the new changes have come out which affect families and couples under the rules of ‘Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights’.

To contact Rights of Women about an asylum claim or immigration issue, please use the advice line below.

Immigration and asylum law advice line for advice on issues including:

*The rights of EEA nationals and their family members
*Claiming asylum in the UK
*Trafficking
*Domestic violence and immigration law
*No recourse to public funds

Call 020 7490 7689 (telephone) or
020 7490 2562 (textphone) or
020 7490 2562 (textphone)
on Mondays between 2pm-4pm and Wednesdays between 11am-1pm

There are also a series of information hand-outs available for download from the right hand column of this page

Four Floors of Celebration and Awareness

This Friday 22nd June, to celebrate Refugee Week, Cardiff Central Library will be hosting four floors of entertainment. From cultural dances, music and poetry, along with stalls and refreshments, there is something to suit everyone.

This event starts at 11am and finishes at 5pm. Entry is free and WSSAG will be holding a stall there.

In the evening there will be a performance of Asylum Monologues at The Old Library in the Hayes, from 6-8pm.

“Asylum Monologues” is a rehearsed reading of the play by London based theatre company Ice & Fire. The actors will tell the story of young people’s experiences when seeking sanctuary in the UK. The event will also include a panel discussion on issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers young people by specially invited politicians, representative from YPSO, sector organisations and charities.

You can get your free tickets by clicking here

A little treat from LUSH Cardiff

Everyone needs to have a treat from time to time, and so our members were very happy to be invited to their very own pampering session at LUSH on Queen Street in Cardiff, on Monday May 14th.

From lotions and potions that feel divine on the skin, to massage bars and face masks, the ladies received a fantastic welcome and all came out refreshed and smelling wonderful.

International Womens Day 2012

Each year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Organisations, governments, charities and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.

On Thursday 8th March, WSSAG was very pleased to be able to promote the aims of the group and encourage weekday shoppers to reflect on the lives of women seeking sanctuary in Cardiff, at their local LUSH store on Queen Street.

LUSH also donate money to local charities where they can through the sale of their ‘charity pot programme.’

On Sunday 11th March, over at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, WSSAG attended a fantastic event hosted by Cardiff Feminist Network called Advocate:Challenge:Transform with stalls, panel debates, workshops and more..

Welcome!

Our address is 3 North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff, CF10 5HB

Meetings are open to all women

Children are also welcome


Need Help? WSSAG Wales can’t offer immigration advice, but we may be able to help you make friends, access services, find other community groups and help you start an anti-deportation campaign.

If you would like to know more, please click here to contact us.

“Whose Honour Are We Talking About?”

On Thursday 17th November members of WSSAG Wales attended a conference in London titled:

“Whose honour are we talking about?”

The conference was organised by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation: IKWRO and was in partnership with Refugee Women’s Association (RWA) and Turkisch-Deutscher Frauenverein e.V: Papatya from Germany.

IKWRO believes that all women have the right to live without fear and oppression. We provide confidential advice and other support to Middle Eastern women and girls who are facing domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and ‘honour’ based violence.

Their campaign to “STOP HONOUR KILLINGS” explains:

Each year at least 5000 women and girls around the world are murdered by their families in the name of ‘honour’. Families often justify these murders by reference to religion, morality or tradition. In many societies victims of honour are simply forgotten about and the perpetrators go unpunished.

In the UK every single day girls and women are locked up, threatened, beaten and forced into marriage by their families. Some are mutilated, or even murdered. These crimes are supposedly committed in the name of family ‘honour’, but there is nothing honourable about them.

The government has no figures on how many people are affected by ‘honour’ based violence in this country, but in 2009 police recorded over 250 incidents in London alone. Across the country there may be thousands more.

Honour based violence is very real both in the UK and other countries. Some women who arrive in the UK are seeking sanctuary from the threat of this violence, which at its worst can result in death. Most instances involve family members, which is incredibly difficult for those affected to come to terms with and recover from, even when they are in a safe place. The trauma undergone can lead to psychological and behavioural difficulties for the individuals involved.

The conference raised the issue that HBV, Forced marriage and FGM are ‘closed issues’ with few willing to speak up about them in the public arena. IKWRO has been working hard to support women who have been affected by HBV in the UK or other countries as well as assisting those who are affected by the threat of Forced Marriage and FGM. They offer advice lines, counselling and advocacy for many women each year.

The difference between Forced Marriage (FM) and arranged marriage was discussed at length, because of the fine line between the two. To make the distinction, a lack of consent of one or both of the individuals who are to be married is considered a forced marriage. Forced marriage appears to be a sensitive issue among many families, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible for the person who does not want to be married to speak out. Going against the wishes of family members can sometimes result in ‘honour’ based violence.

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the UK and many people are working to make it illegal internationally, as this practice has many health complications, which can result in death. The origins of FGM are unknown but it is evident that in many countries this barbaric practice is still occurring for many young women. In some places it is seen as a ‘coming of age’ ritual and in other places it is considered to keep a woman ‘pure’ for her husband.

Papatya in Germany are one group who have made links in Iraqi – Kurdistan to discourage FGM in many villages. Their work has shown that changing the mindset of women who previously believed this practice to be justified, can spare other women and young girls from having to endure the procedure and it’s associated health risks.

The culture of disbelief in the UKBA makes it very difficult for Asylum seeking women who have had the threat of, or undergone HBV, forced marriage or FGM. Some of those affected are not believed when recounting their ordeals, causing more distress and trauma.

This conference showed that violence against women in all it’s forms can and should be challenged and eradicated. Those groups out there working tirelessly for the benefit of all women’s human rights are trying to educate and inform groups and individuals so that these practices can be abolished. This conference and IKWRO’s guidelines booklet form an important part of this process.

IKWRO can offer help in Farsi, Kurdish, Dari, Arabic and Turkish. To find out more about their IKWRO’s services please click here

The film above which has been directed by Frederico Forcolini provides insight into the horrific realities faced by those who suffer honour based violence, perhaps for choosing to marry someone for love.

Refugee Week at The Cardiff Story

On Saturday 25th WSSAG will be speaking out about what it is like to be a woman seeking asylum in Wales is really like at The Cardiff Story in The Old Library, in The Hayes from 12-4pm.

There will be arts and craft activities for all ages, as well as poetry and live music from the Welsh Refugee Council.

The event is free and all are welcome.

Some of the other celebrations for Refugee Week in Cardiff can be found here.

Cupcakes and Cast-Off’s at Cathays Community Centre

On Saturday 4th June, WSSAG will be attending the Cupcakes and Cast-off’s event at Cathays Community Centre from 12-4pm. For a map of how to get there click here.

This free event will be a great opportunity to find some bargains and enjoy great food and live music!

Think bunting, balloons, music, face-painting, fun in the sun, kids activities, craftiness and of course ample quantities of the sweet, gooey, chocolatey – or other types of tasty – goodness that is CAKE! And of course clothes and other pre-loved goodies will be on sale for the cheapest prices around. Cupcakes & Cast-off’s is all about reducing, recycling, revamping & re-wearing!

Raising money for Asylum Justice, Environmental Justice Foundation and STAR (Student Action for Refugees).

Asylum Justice is a local charity that supports asylum seekers who don’t have a lawyer in Cardiff and Swansea by providing them with free legal aid. Many of these cases have been refused by lawyers and so the work of Asylum Justice – run by volunteers – is invaluable.

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJS) makes the link between the need for environmental security and the defence of basic human rights. One of EJS’ campaigns is on Climate Refugees. Deteriorating environmental conditions linked to climate change are already affecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. However, there is no legally binding agreement identifying and protecting climate refugees so EJS is working to establish one.

STAR Cardiff runs a weekly drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees, is involved in campaigns, improving awareness about refugee issues, and fund-raising for charities such as the Welsh Refugee Council. STAR Network is made up of hundreds of other STAR groups around the UK, all who are supported by a small head office through training and resources. Due to cuts in funding, raising money for the network is vital.

New Book Now Available…

We are able to offer a discount if you order 10 or more copies.

To order your copy, please get in touch

Members of WSSAG are able to provide workshops covering the resources section at the back of the book – at your school, organisation or event – raising awareness of the issues and challenges facing women seeking sanctuary in the UK.

Seeking Sanctuary – WSSAG Book Launch

In partnership with the Cardiff Ethnic Minority Communities team, Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group, is proudly hosting the launch of “Seeking Sanctuary: Journeys of Despair and Hope” on the Glanfa Stage of the Wales Millennium Centre on Tuesday 19th April 2011 at 1pm. All are welcome to this free event.

It is a collection of real life stories of women who have braved all sort of persecutions and human rights abuse and who have come to the UK to seek sanctuary and try to rebuild their lives…

Please send us an e-mail if you would like details about how to order your copy…

STAR Sleepout in Support of Destitute Asylum Seekers

On Friday 25th February, Cardiff STAR (Student action for Refugees) is planning a ‘sleepout’ in support of the ‘Still Human Still Here’ campaign against destitution of refused asylum seekers.

The aim is to raise awareness and show solidarity with the thousands of asylum seekers all over the UK who are made destitute either when their claims for asylum are refused, even though they may be appealing this decision or cannot return to their home country as it is too unsafe, or due to administrative errors leading to delays in receiving financial support or/and accommodation. With no support or money they often become homeless. More information can be found at the blog ‘Still Human Still Here’, which is an ongoing campaign to end the destitution of refused asylum seekers.

Some of the people who are involved in the sleepout are raising sponsorship money for Home4U who are a group of concerned friends in Cardiff who have been involved in various refugee community groups and have become aware of the huge and immediate problem that destitution poses for many people. They have been lent a house in the Rhondda, rent-free, in which two asylum seekers can live at a time, and they are hoping to get a house in Cardiff to provide emergency support for newly destitute people. The money they raise will cover the cost of food and travel bills and keeping the house running.

Everybody is welcome to attend the sleepout, whether you chose to be sponsored or not – the more people who come the better, so please invite your friends! The night promises to be informative, fun and most of all necessary to raise the profile of destitute asylum seekers all over the UK.

As well as WSSAG, some of the groups supporting the sleepout include: Home4U, Welsh Refugee Council, STAR, Amnesty International, Displaced People In Action, Medsin, People and Planet and Cardiff Refugee & Asylum Seeker Welcome.

Asylum Monologues in Cardiff

Asylum Monologues is an account of the UK asylum system told first-hand in the words of the people who have experienced it.
Scripted by award-winning playwright and Artistic Director of Ice and Fire theatre, Sonja Linden, it is an important and powerful work.

With personal testimony at its core combined with public opinion, political statements and statistical fact, this production disseminates what it really means to be displaced in the UK.

“This is the thing that the British people don’t understand. They think we came here just because we want to live here. We came here because there are problems – that why we came here.”

Some audience feedback:

“I came here tonight without knowing the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee. I am choked for words. This was a powerful, hard-hitting script of horrific events. I fully intend to support this cause.”

(Audience member, Asylum Monologues, Middlesbrough, Jan 2007).

“It really brought home just how easy it is to demonise asylum seekers and just how ignorant a lot of people are about the issues, including myself.”

(Audience member, Asylum Monologues, Oxford, October 2006)

The Asylum Monologues are coming to Cardiff on February 12th 2011 @ 6.30pm (for 7pm start) @ Cathays Community Centre, 36-38 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX. In conjunction with Cardiff STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and Fforwm: Cardiff Experimental Applied Theatre Society.

Free entry to all.

Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

On Saturday 27th November 2010, WSSAG Wales was very proud and honoured to win The Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize group award, recognising the importance of WSSAG’s work with refugee and asylum seeking women who have escaped all forms of violence to seek sanctuary in the UK.

“Emma was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners.

Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize judges choose the recipient of a group award, established to recognise the unsung work done by many women’s groups and organisations. This award marks the outstanding contribution of women’s organisations who work in this embattled area and whose creativity and resourcefulness have resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of male violence.”

In the evening, there was the chance to join the Reclaim the Night march against rape and all forms of male violence against women. “We march today to demand our right to live without the fear or reality of rape and male violence, we demand an end to male violence against women, we take back this night to win the day.