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:
Chair | Kevin Sauntry: Chief Executive Officer, Sporting Communities
Kevin’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.
Vice Chair | Catherine Ralph
Secretary | Angela Glendenning
Angela 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.
When John graduated from Galway University he worked in the public sector before moving to Chicago.
On 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.
Dr Sally Aldridge has a long involvement with voluntary agencies in the Potteries. Graduating from SOAS, she worked as a teacher in Zambia. On her return, she trained as a counsellor at Keele University before being appointed Head of Student Services at Staffordshire University, then a Director of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
She is also a trustee of the Psychologist’s Protection Society and a member of the Grants Panel for Transforming the Trent Valley Project and Chair of Friends of Lyme Brook a local environmental group.
Service Manager | Godefroid Seminega
Godefroid graduated from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) – School of Public Health with BSc (Hons) & MA in Public Health. Godefroid has held managerial positions in Africa as a Public Health Adviser, Consultant and has taught in various Health and Nursing Schools. In 2001 Godefroid and others founded a community group-based support service for asylum seekers and refugees which eventually evolved to become the registered charity Asha North Staffordshire. He is an active member for North Staffordshire Equality Council and elected to the position of Vice Chair on the Black and Minority Ethnic Forum. Godefroid also represents BME communities in Local Strategic Partnerships in the Health Community Sub Committee. He has worked for local health authorities and several NHS Trusts in North West promoting health among Black and Minority Ethnics Community, in particular HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care.
Deputy Manager | Jane Bailey
Since 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 assisted in setting up a Sales and Letting Agency in Newcastle-under-Lyme, which led to her becoming Sole Proprietor. Jane then took up the position of 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.
Support worker | Lydia Mugoyikazi
Lydia 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.
Children’s 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.
Children’s Coordinator | Henni Hill
Henni graduated with BA in Ancient History from Cardiff University in 2018, before going on to study MA International Education and Globalisation at Bath University. During her postgraduate degree, Henni focused her research on education in conflict zones and areas of civil unrest, and the education of refugee and asylum-seeking children in the UK. Henni discovered Asha when carrying out research for her dissertation, interviewing staff members about primary education for refugee and asylum-seeking children in Stoke-On-Trent. Henni became a volunteer with Asha’s women and children’s club in 2019.
Digital Health Support Worker | Keita Facinet
Keita graduated in MIAG (IT Method Applied to Business Management) from the University of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Guinea. He joined Asha in 2014 as an asylum seeker peer volunteer support worker where he helped in fixing bicycles which had been donated to the charity and helped to teach IT to asylum seekers. He specialises in the following areas: Phones/Tablets, Games consoles, IT software and hardware.
Keita speaks 5 languages: French, English, Susu, Fula and Mandengo and was an Olympic Judo player.
Women’s Well-being Worker | Jackie Gregory
Jackie is currently studying for an MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, with a background of working with clients for the NHS. Previously she was a journalist where her ethos was to give a voice to people in marginalised communities. For ten years she was employed as a senior lecturer in Journalism at Staffordshire University and during this time she mentored students as a personal tutor. Jackie has also volunteered for charities working with asylum seekers, gaining experience in teaching English, helping to run a children’s play scheme, helping on an advice desk and befriending. She has a BA degree in English Literature, and an MA in Higher and Professional Education.
Social Inclusion Programme Coordinator | Tamba Musa
Tamba was born and bred in Sierra Leone. He holds a diploma in Journalism and
management and has served the media world for nineteen years (1995 – 2014).
During the Ebola outbreak in his home country – Sierra Leone neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, Tamba left the editing desk and worked for the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society as the Beneficiary Communication Officer (BENCOM) as a way of sensitising communities on the epidemic which eventually led to the sub-region overcoming the deadly Ebola virus.
In the UK, Tamba has completed level I & II Asylum and Protection and is hoping to advance.