Christmas Holidays

Best and warm wishes to you and your loved ones. If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Our opening times for the festive period:

Closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Open on Monday 28/12 and Tuesday 29/12.

Closed from Wednesday 30/12 until Sunday 3/1/2016.

All back to normal on Monday 4/1/2016!

merry-christmas-red-with-balls-HD-wallpaper

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!

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.

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.

Train the Trainer Seminar

This Friday 17th September

Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales and No Borders South Wales, in association with National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns and Displaced People In Action (DPIA), are organizing an anti-deportation training workshop for people seeking sanctuary and their supporters. It starts at 10am and finishes at 3pm with lunch provided and travel expenses refunded for to all asylum seekers or refugees with a valid ticket for public transport.

Who is it aimed at?

➢ Refugee Community Organisations
➢ Asylum Seeker Support Groups
➢ Asylum Seekers’ Rights Campaigners
➢ Community Activists

To book a place, please contact
DPIA 02920 388 389 or WSSAG 07902562111

WCVA Wales Volunteer of the Year 2010

The Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards, managed by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and supported this year by CCLA Investment Management Ltd, is an annual opportunity to reward people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community.

On 10th June, WSSAG was honoured to have one of our members Constance Nzeneu receive an award for Volunteer of the Year at a presentation ceremony which was held in Cardiff Castle.

Adult category – Constance Nzeneu, Cardiff

‘Most women seeking sanctuary in the UK face not only the trauma that forced them to flee their country of origin and the complexity and hostility of the UK immigration system,’ said Patricia Barrera, Research Consultant with Black Voluntary Sector Network Wales (BVSNW).

‘They are also faced with the complex situation of finding themselves and their children in a foreign country which – most of the time – is alien to their cultural and social background.’

A board member of BVSNW, Constance – who is from Cameroon – is also currently training to become a volunteer adviser with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Constance has been one of the driving forces behind the emergence of WSSAG and its growing success,’ said Hywel Bishop, No Borders South Wales, who also nominated Constance for her award.
.
‘She acts as an inspiration to others by showing what can be achieved if women seeking sanctuary come and stand together to make their voices heard.’

Constance said her daily role involved providing a range of support, from interpreting to practical, social and moral. ‘There is no greater joy to know that you have helped someone.’

WSSAG is run by volunteers which not only empowers people but also builds vital life skills. We are very proud of the recognition for all the hard work that has been put in by our members, and celebrate such a great achievement for Constance. Well Done!

Shop for Justice

WSSAG Wales members were among the people seeking sanctuary and local supporters in central Cardiff  on 11th December who to tested the new ‘Azure’ payment card provided by the UK  Border Agency.

The card replaces the the old style Tesco vouchers that were given to some people seeking sancturary as their only means to support themselves and their families.

The Azure card was introduced this month for people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff who qualify for ‘Section 4’ support. This is a support given to people who the Home Office recognise cannot currently return to their country of origin. The Azure cards are topped up with £35 per week, though users of the card cannot receive change, obtain cash or use the card at shops other than Tesco, Sainsbury Asda, Boots and Peacocks

On attempting to use the card in Cardiff, they were not initially recognised in Peacocks and users felt excluded and criminalised when they were unable to pay for essential goods using the card in other stores.

The action was organised by Citizens for Sanctuary and involved local organisations, faith groups, local media, Student Action for Refugees and supporters of people seeking sanctuary.

The presence and support of Julie Morgan MP was massively noticed as she promised to get the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, involved in a better treatment of this particular vulnerable group of people.

The event was reported by BBC Wales and The Western Mail