Concert in aid of Asha at Trinity Church Leek

For some time now Trinity Church and the Methodist churches in the Staffordshire Moorlands Circuit have committed to supporting ASHA in various ways as part of their mission plan (awareness raising, volunteering, fundraising, befriending, donating money, food, clothes and bicycles)

On Saturday 20thOctober Hannah Turner and Young Phoenix singers combined forces to put on a concert of varied vocal and instrumental music in aid of the ongoing work of ASHA, which receives no permanent funding and relies on small grants and donations.

Hannah performed a variety of solo pieces, some new and others well known and Young Phoenix chose a selection of mainly unaccompanied songs from their growing repertoire. Their programme was very much enjoyed and Trinity is grateful for their willingness to come along and help raise money in such a good cause.

The event attracted a good audience from local churches, the Methodist circuit as well as the wider local community.  A group of volunteers and asylum seekers from ASHA also attended, which included a trio of drummers form various parts of Africa who welcomed folk as they came into church with a burst of drumming .They also performed three pieces half way through the programme .Their enthusiastic drumming and singing complemented the typical English programme really well and afterwards everyone from ASHA enjoyed meeting with folk from Leek which they don’t get much of an opportunity to meet.

One of the asylum seekers had brought for sale a number of his paintings evoking scenes from his home country, which were sold in aid of ASHA.  It is hoped that more of these will be available on Eva Massey’s craft stall at Wednesday Coffee mornings at Trinity.

In the absence of Angela Glendenning a Trustee at ASHA  ,who was feeling under the weather that day ,Godefroid Seminega concluded the evening by explaining what ASHA is all about and the huge gratitude felt for the moral and financial support that evenings such as this provided.

A total of £419 was raised

Maureen Wisken







Progress Report from Paul, Refugee Action

[campaign@refugee-action.org.uk] 5 November 2018


It’s only three weeks since the launch of our #LiftTheBan campaign to give people seeking asylum the right to work.


With your help, we’ve shown millions of people – including senior politicians – that the case for lifting the ban is undeniable.


Thanks to our supporters, and the more than 100 organisations backing the campaign, here are some of the things we’ve achieved in such a short space of time:

  • Media coverage including The Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Financial Times and New Statesman
  • A growing coalition of campaign partners as varied as the TUC, Ben & Jerry’s, Crisis, the Church of England and Amnesty International
  • The Labour Party has officially shifted its position to back our campaign
  • Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said she was ‘listening carefully’ to the arguments for lifting the ban, during a parliamentary debate on the campaign
  • Home Secretary Sajid Javid said ‘we are looking to see what more we can do’ in response to an Oral Question in the House of Commons
  • More than 16,000 people have signed our petition to give people seeking asylum the right to work


We’re overwhelmed by how strongly the public has come out in support of the rights of people seeking safety in the UK. Research shows that 71% of the public are behind us on this issue, but to see that put into practice is something else entirely.


There is still a long way to go, but we’re now more confident than ever that we can transform the lives of people seeking asylum by winning their right to work.


We could not do it without your help.


There’s a lot more to come from the #LiftTheBan campaign, so please keep helping us push to turn cross-party backing and public support into real change.


Bicycle Donation

Photo of Asha’s footballers playing and their bicycles donated by Asha to help them moving and to come to play.

Thank you for all of the donations. The bikes donated are regularly being used to help a number of refugees to access both programmes to improve health and wellbeing, socialisation and employment and volunteering opportunities.

The West End Methodist Church

Saturday 3 November 2018

The West End Methodist Church hosted a three day Christian Aid exhibition  and invited ASHA to display our Women’s Group Craft Work on the final day Those who don’t know the church and its community centre and café won’t know that not many moons ago it was the very dilapidated West End Pub! It is now a superb community hub with a whole variety of activities to engage every age group.

ASHA was delighted to attend and pleased to report that the craft work raised £33.

Staffordshire Vegan Festival Kings Hall Saturday 30 June 2018

ASHA was very pleasantly surprised to be invited to the Vegan Festival and even more surprised to learn that ASHA would be a beneficiary.  With support from ASHA trustee Cath Ralph, Manjula and a couple of other asylum volunteers ASHA set up a stall and took along some of the women’s craft work for display and sale.  The happy outcome for ASHA was a donation of just under £600.

We already have a date for the festival in 2019.  It is on Saturday 10 August.

Thank you Vegan Supporters.

Women’s International Day 10 March 2018

Responding to an invitation from Stoke and North Staffs Women’s Network women from ASHA’s sewing group took part in a Craft Fair at Burslem School of Art.


Those who took part very much enjoyed the occasion and the team were pleased to receive this endorsement of their participation from Mo Sullivan who wrote:


‘I am writing to ask you to pass on thanks to ASHA’s craft group of women and children, and also to Godefroid, Lydia, Eva, Ryn and Rufieda for their wonderful contribution to the craft day held in honour of International Women’s Day at Burslem School of Art last Saturday. Angela supported in her usual invaluable way as did Cath Ralph.


‘The ASHA women and their lovely craft work and friendly manner played a big part in the success of the day, and the children were very well behaved.  Godefroid and Lydia were very efficient and good humoured in planning everything in detail beforehand along with the helpers, and Lydia was a great ambassador for ASHA on the day.

‘Linda Holt, chair of the Stoke and North Staffs Women’s Network who organised the day and funded ASHA’s travel and helpers’ costs would also like to pass on her and the organising group’s appreciation.’



A Women’s Group Baking Day 3 March 2018

Fourteen members of the Women’s Group enjoyed baking bread under the expert tuition of two members of B’arts, Rebecca Frankenburg and Siobhan McAleer. Their products were delicious and demonstrated that the ASHA oven works well!

We hope this is a prelude to more ASHA users taking advantage of the myriad creative activities which take place B’arts.

ASHA support

ASHA supporter, Maureen Wisken, vigorously promotes ASHA amongst the people of Staffordshire Moorlands. One way she does is by offering regular articles on ASHA’s activities in the SPARK Newspaper.  This is what she wrote in October last year.

Harvest Giving

ASHA staff, volunteers and service users were overwhelmed with the several car loads of harvest food gifts from Churches across the Staffs Moorlands Methodist Circuit and asked me to say a huge thank you. To say the store room was virtually bare isn’t an understatement so the huge top up was very welcome. But food is given out almost as fast as it comes in so please keep donations flowing. Trinity Church in Leek and Cheadle Methodist Church in Cheadle are happy to receive your donations and pass them on.

Most needed items are sunflower oil, basmati rice, tuna, pasta, long life milk, lentils, chick peas, coffee, and tea.

How badly needed are the services ASHA offers?

The bald facts below paint a graphic picture of the level of vital activity provided by this relatively small charity.

965  -the total number of asylum seekers currently registered in Stoke-on-Trent

(Not including an unknown number who are destitute because their claim has been refused)

346 -the  total number of service users accessing ASHA in the last 6 monthsmany of whom are destitute and do not receive any public support

Of these 207 are men ,138 are women plus 87  children

47 the number of different nationalities of people using ASHA services

1741 –the number receiving items of donated food

833- the number who have received items of donated clothing

762 –the number who have attended English classes

401- the number who have attended the Saturday Women’s Group (excluding children)

355-the number who have received advice and support from the Red Cross

443- the number who have accessed specialist advice from the solicitor who attends biweekly.

58- the number who were assisted to travel to Solihull for immigration advice



The British Red Cross-how do they help asylum seekers in Stoke?

The Red Cross have a contract with ASHA to provide advice and support to asylum seekers and especially those who are destitute, homeless and in receipt of no support whatever.

Each week Red Cross Case Workers from Birmingham come to ASHA to provide a ‘drop-in’ on Thursdays for initial /less complex cases and on other days in the week by appointment only for cases that need more in depth advice /support.

Where a different level of expertise is required the Red Cross workers refer service users to other agencies including a solicitor who travels to ASHA every other week to help with immigration issues.

Access to these types of support in a local, familiar, safe setting like ASHA provides a vital lifeline to people who are often alone, are way out of their comfort zone, in a strange culture and with little or no influence or control over their lives.

ASHA Developments

Football To the great delightof an increasing number of young menASHA recently set up a Saturday Football Club with 46 attending in the first 3 sessions. With little or no money for anything but the barest essentials and much time on their hands it is a real challenge for asylum seekers to find enjoyable things to do. Organising football not only taps into the shared love of the sport but also encourages healthy, outdoor exercise and helps develop social contact and friendships between those who may be widely dispersed across the city.

There are plans to join a local league .To do so ASHA staff are keen to attract a volunteer keen and able to help coach and support the emerging team. If you can help contact Godefroid Seminega on

Community link worker

So very many of the asylum seekers in Stoke have brought with them very significant qualifications, skills and experience, which they are not able to put to good use because they are not allowed to take paid employment while their application is being considered-this can take months or, in some cases, years.  They run the risk of being deskilled and disheartened if not demotivated.

A number of those attending ASHA already volunteer in local organisations. Those who do find this helps gives structure to their daily which are lives dominated by interminable waiting to hear the outcome of their application. In addition volunteering provides opportunities for them to improve their English as well as offering skills in short supply. Above all volunteering enables them to give something back to the local community, who thereby gain first- hand experience of real live asylum seekers.

To address this situation ASHA has applied for and been successful in gaining a 3 year grant to appoint a part time Community Worker to liaise with organisations and individuals in the wider community to expand the voluntary role of asylum seekers in various settings, for example,  industry, hospitals, care homes, community centres, sports centres ,schools etc.

Once the post is filled the work will not only benefit asylum seekers themselves but also the wider community and will go a long way in this city to overcoming negative attitudes prevalent in many parts of the UK to  migrants in general

To improve the charity peer support services, improve the quality of this service and reduce the waiting time for support.


The next big event is the Children’s Christmas Party. It is expected that over 100 children will attend and each will receive a present from Father Christmas courtesy of Sporting Communities, who are expert at laying on games and activities for large groups of children of varying ages.  This won’t be the end of Christmas for these children.  Traditionally the Salvation Army provides a present for every child and these will be given out at the final Women and Children’s groups before Christmas.

Many individuals, faith groups and others contribute to ASHA and collectively, we can make a difference.