Asha is a charity formed in 2005 to help men, women and children seeking refuge from persecution. We actively promote social inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees.

Our experienced staff have wide experience of projects to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, excluded and discriminated members of the community. 

Each year, Asha helps more than 900 different men and women from almost 50 different countries. On average, 160 people access our services each week.

Our vision | Giving help, planting hope

  • Our centre is a place where men, women and families seeking asylum are welcome and can find the support and help they need.
  • Our users are encouraged to become volunteers and co-workers in a collaborative enterprise which puts people first and promotes social integration.
  • We want our work with asylum seekers and refugees to seen by the wider community as contributing to its wellbeing.

These are just a few of our supporting funders and partners:

ChairKevin Sauntry: Chief Executive Officer, Sporting Communities

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2013-08-12 06:50:28Z | | http://codecarvings.comKevin’s career in youth work began in 1970 when he was appointed Hanley Youth Project’s (HYP) first detached youth worker, to assess the needs of young people termed ‘unclubbables’ and to help prevent them from dropping out of education, youth provision and generally falling by the way.

The project grew and was widely recognised for its preventative work, being academically published in Collins’ Sport and Social Exclusion.

In 1986, HYP became Stoke Council’s Parks and Recreation Department until 2000, when it was subject to cutbacks. Since then, Kevin has worked professionally as a consultant and voluntarily as a community advocate and unpaid director of Sporting Communities. He also leads Murphy’s Marbles, a Celtic and Roots Band.

SecretaryAngela Glendenning

ASHAAngelaAngela has been involved with Asha since the charity’s early days when she was chair of the North Staffordshire Racial Equality Council and of PARINS, a multi-agency partnership addressing the needs of victims of racist incidents and crime. 

On her retirement from the Probation Service for six years she was a non-executive member of a local community health trust.

In 2008. she was recognised as North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Citizen of the Year.

Honorary Treasurer | Jenny Dennis

Jenny has over 30 years’ experience working in various social fields. 

After completing a BA Hons Degree at the University of Kent and a Post Graduate Diploma in Edinburgh, Jenny became a detached youth worker with Hanley Youth Project.

She progressed to leading and initiating community development programmes in local neighbourhoods, and becoming Stoke’s Play Service Manager, developing an inclusive city-wide service.

She has since held management roles with Manchester City Council and is currently Early Years Provision Manager in Oldham Council’s Education and Early Years Department.

John Walsh

When John graduated from Galway University he worked in the public sector before moving to Chicago.

ASHAJohnOn his return to England he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest working in the south of England. His ministry took him into prisons and hospitals.

Following a second degree in Post-Colonial Literature, John moved to London to work with homeless people including asylum seekers and refugees.

Relocating to Stoke-on-Trent, he worked for nine years on the resettlement and integration of refugees before retiring. He currently acts as a Case Support Worker for Asha.

Ben Rigby

Ben’s career in youth work began at 16. Whilst at University Ben was a Detached Youth Worker for Newcastle Borough Council and a Youth Engagement Officer for Congleton Borough Council, founding Bear Town Boxing Club.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2013-06-25 08:35:12Z | | http://codecarvings.comDuring University he worked and studied in France, becoming the first student on the Erasmus programme to attend l’Université de Poitiers. After completing a Masters degree in Sport Development Ben has held posts including lecturer, Further Education Sports Co-ordinator and Sport Development Officer.

In 2012, Ben initiated the founding of Sporting Communities and has since been recognised as Sports Coach UK’s Community Coach of the Year.

Ross Podyma

After training as a professional artist, Ross worked for Hanley Youth Project before working for a local authority developing community services, children’s holiday programmes, events and partnerships. This led to him becoming a childcare development officer for an early years department. He joined Sporting Communities in 2013 as a local support team co-ordinator.

Service Manager | Godfrey Seminega

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.10.53In 2005, Godfrey and other asylum seekers established the community group which became Asha North Staffordshire. Godfrey is a specialist in health promotion targeting black and minority ethnic communities.

Obtaining employment in health promotion in Stoke-on-Trent, he became a member of the City’s BME Forum and was elected by the Forum to sit on the City’s Local Strategic Partnership. He was also an active member of the then North Staffordshire Racial Equality Council.

Support worker | Lydia Mugoyikaze

ASHALydiaLydia has a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business and Marketing. Born in Rwanda, she worked with the UNHCR from 1995 to 2000 as a Refugee Support Worker.

For more than eight years, Lydia volunteered for the charity, then was subsequently employed as sessional case worker.

Admin and Finance Service Coordinator | Jane Bailey

AshaSince graduating from Staffordshire University in 1998 with a BA (Hons) in Business Studies, Jane has spent the majority of her working life in the finance sector as both a bank adviser and a financial adviser. In more recent years, Jane was Treasurer and Administrator at St Giles Church in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and was responsible for the financial management of a major Heritage Lottery Fund project.

Befriending Project and Volunteer Placement Coordinator | Charlotte Swan

image1Charlotte has a background in social work and counselling. Having volunteered as a caseworker with the Red Cross, she now coordinates the Asha team of volunteer Befrienders and supports Asha service users in finding voluntary or paid work. Please get in touch if you wish to find out more about befriending or if you are looking for work and need assistance.

Children’s Activity Coordinator | Ryn Bentham 

Ryn has more than 20 years’ experience of working in various social inclusion settings in the voluntary and statutory sector as a student mentor, career adviser, volunteer brokerage supporter for those with additional barriers to volunteering, family support work (troubled families agenda), in-work support officer and project officer for several voluntary sector projects.  Her qualifications include HNC Business and Finance, NVQ 4 Career Guidance and NVQ 4 Learning Development Support Services.

Digital Health Support Worker | Keita Facinet


Women’s Well-being Worker | Jackie Gregory

IT Volunteer | Alvin Bampton

Alvin has a bachelor’s degree in maths (Hull University) and a doctorate in computer science (Keele University). He has worked in the computer trade all his working life in ‘four countries, three continents and two hemispheres’.

Now retired, his is a symbiotic relationship with Asha – he benefits from still being ‘in computers’ – and Asha benefits from Alvin’s expertise.