Asha started collecting food around 10 years ago to give asylum seekers a little extra at Christmas. Before long asylum seekers began looking to Asha for help year round due to having no food. The Women’s Club drew up a list of ‘survival’ items such as pasta, long grain rice, sunflower cooking oil, tinned tuna and tomatoes, some pulses and sugar.
Today, a certain degree of rationing has becoming necessary. There are more asylum seekers who have no recourse to public funds and who are not allowed to work. They, along with individuals and families who suddenly face unexpected expenses that throws them into crisis, are seen as a priority.
Food Bank vouchers may be given to an asylum seeker who has received ‘leave to remain’, but are unable to claim Job Seeker’s Allowance until they have received a National Insurance number, however if you, or someone that you know is struggling, please come to Asha for support.
With a widening circle of organisations, people and faith groups donating food no-one in need is turned away and Asha will continue to do support those in need with food.
Some of our donors include Tesco’s Community Food Connection who provide fresh produce twice a week and Lichfield Food Bank who provide food when Asha's stock is low and they have a surplus.
On average Asha gives out 300-350 food bags each month and the support from all of our partners ensures that people in need do not go hungry.
Asha’s most needed food is; Rice and pasta, Sunflower Cooking Oil, Long Life Milk, Tinned Tuna and Tinned Tomatoes. We also need a steady supply of biscuits, coffee and jam so users can enjoy refreshments when they call in.
Asha receives clothing from a range of partners and donors to distribute to asylum seekers and refugees who come to Asha in need of support.
Asha asks donors to identify clothing that is ‘nearly new’ and worn clothing and shoes can also be sold for recycling.
Any money raised from worn clothing sales is used to purchase food products that can be distributed to asylum seekers who are unable to feed themselves and/or their family.
Asha also accepts good quality bedding and household items.
On average Asha gives clothing to 150-200 people month.
If you are willing and able to donate clothes, shoes or other household items to Asha, please contact us. Any donations are much welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Now that Asha’s Support Worker, Lydia Mugoyikaze, is a qualified British Red Cross Support Worker she can bring her expertise to bear by advocating with the DWP on behalf of an asylum seeker who now has refugee status. In the meantime Asha gives whatever help it can.
Integration Fund - Most of Asha’s users live in outlying neighbourhoods and have no money for transport, many who are mothers with babies or toddlers. Asha raises money for mothers and their children to attend the women and children’s clubs. This lessens their social isolation and paves the way for a user to engage with activities and community events on their doorstep.
Emergency Fund - Asha has an emergency fund for special payments like, for example, providing a train ticket for a destitute asylum seeker to travel to Liverpool or Birmingham to lodge a fresh claim or assist a mother to purchase nappies for her new baby while waiting for a payment from the Home Office.
It is Asha’s donors who sustain the above funds. Without them Asha would not be able to help asylum seekers to access the centre or to have somewhere to turn in a crisis or an emergency.
Asha runs regular English classes for asylum seekers, using trainees on the Trinity Cert TESOL teaching course at Keele University.
We currently run two classes per week, however the demand for English classes is growing year on year.
Asha and Keele University Language Centre pride themselves on the amazing relationships and community spirit they have built through the English programme regular classes. Students at Keele gain skills and attributes from their contact with asylum seekers, and asylum seekers respond well to students teaching them, as they are aware they are also helping the students to learn how to teach.
On Friday mornings (and at other times too) the centre is busy with one to one tutors trying to find a ‘space’ to teach and help people learn English through conversation. There are so many different needs – holding a conversation in a shop to filling out a form for a schoolchild – that there is endless work required to meet the English asylum seekers need to fit into British society.
Most asylum seekers are unfamiliar with the internet and using email, however this is often an immigration advisors primary means of communication. It is important that asylum seekers remains in contact with their immigration advisor and Asha is able to help an asylum seeker become familiarised with email and the internet. Children also enjoy using computers at Asha's children's club.
Asha welcomes donated, working computers and can guarantee that these will be put into good use for asylum seekers.
Asha collects donated bicycles and asylum seekers refurbish these to make them roadworthy before they are given to an asylum seeker.
The gift of mobility is deeply valued and there is always a waiting list. Asha distributes over 50 bicycles each year and this can be invaluable when helping an asylum seeker to fetch food, support their children, or even gain employment or a voluntary post.
Every cyclist should have a crash helmet and a padlock so please donate these as well if you have them.