by Tamba, seven Asha users trooped down the road to tidy-up around the Mosque
and Stepping Stones. This was by way of
a thank-you to the Mosque for their support and a reciprocal gesture to
Stepping Stones who hosted a solidarity event attended by Asha users shortly
wind was getting up as the litter pickers finished the job but there was just
time for coffee in Stepping Stones before the rain came down.
is grateful to the Rector of Newcastle’s Civic Church for inviting Asha to introduce
a new dimension to their monthly family service which starred our drummers.
with hymns and Bible reading, the congregation heard the story of two asylum
seekers, one of whom achieved refugee status and is completing his third year
at university and other who was killed when his final appeal to stay had been
rejected and he had little choice but to opt for voluntary return to the
country he had fled.
congregation learned how the hand of friendship reaching out to a new arrival,
can alleviate the pain, separation and loss of family, home, job, community and
One of Asha’s teachers concluded the event by introducing a couple of Befrienders and Befriendees, Jamal and Comfort, before reading a poem, a ‘Glass of Tea’, by Shukria Rezael, aged 15.
Staffordshire University Sports Hall is big enough for large party games with the bar area for parents although this was a tight
Communities had lunch bags for the children and Asha’s volunteers cooked for
the parents, guests and volunteers. The food this year included delicious
samosas cooked by two Pakistani members of the women’s group and seaweed
dumplings and vegetable noodles contributed by Chinese members.
Rigby, Managing Director of Sporting Communities, and his experienced team
organised games for every age group and the party ran like a well-oiled
machine! The queue for Santa Claus was patient as was the parent’s collecting
bus fares for the journey home. All in all, a successful occasion for everyone.
children were signed up for the Christmas party and a team of volunteers
gathered to wrap the toys from the Tesco Toy Appeal and another tranche
collected by Keele students. The
operation commanded by Ryn, was efficiency itself. It needs to be because or
tempers can fray queuing for Father Christmas if presents aren’t quickly
despatched! Inevitably there will be
parents and children arriving without having registered for the party, so a
supply of reserve presents is also needed.
staff and volunteers gathered to wrap around the donated toys and hall lookwd
quite magical as they set to work.
Accompanied by Ryn’s husband Paul with his big car, Angela represented at a Toy Collection gathering in the Delilah Suite at Stoke City FC Stadium. There was a large gathering of local charities, several of whom entertained before a buffet. The toys were all in large Santa sacks and a big box. After a speech from Chloe Challinor, Marketing Manager of Aspire it was time to gather up the toys and leave but not before Angela had been wished a Happy Birthday and presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers! She had inadvertently let the cat out of the bag to Liz Locker, Tesco’s Community Champion, and she was 85 that day and of course Liz could not let this pass unnoticed! Thank you, Tesco.
It is a bit late in the day to plant bulbs, but one user enjoyed the experience and we hope more will do so in the spring. Looking ahead Claire, the Hanley Park Liaison Officer, attended Asha this Friday morning to describe the various free activities in the Park available to anyone who wishes to join.
Our Muslim neighbours at Stepping Stones
invited Asha and others in the neighbourhood of Shelton to meet, eat and
network to breakdown stereotypes of who we are and what we represent and to
strengthen a sense of a shared community.
Angela, a new volunteer and four Asha users
including a Mum with two children took up offer. The basic tenets of Islam were outlined,
three musicians with drums sang some sacred songs and several local speakers
described where they came from before everyone enjoyed a delicious meal. After
this there was an opportunity for a guided tour of the Masjid or Mosque. Our
group brought up the rear and it was a moving moment when the chairman went in
search for a copy of the Quran in Arabic for one of Asha’s new arrivals. He returned with what he described as a very
special edition. It would be fair to say that this simple act of thoughtfulness
meant a great deal to the recipient. The
afternoon was rounded off with more networking and delicious cakes to see us on
Because Asha receives regular support from the Methodist Church and as
Heather Bates said, “They do this as a way of saying thank to the people who
The group of four staff and 12 asylum seekers
were greeted by the Revd. Julie Hassall, a minister and superintendent of the
Staffordshire Moorlands District Methodist circuit.
It was reported that several people asked the litter pickers who they were and on learning they were asylum seekers the response was positive. This was heart- warming as it is not always so. Councillor Ian Plant, Mayor of Cheadle, looked in and enjoyed a chat and some refreshments too.
Tamba and Misbah represented Asha at a national forum in London funded by Refugee Action. The forum aims to discover and implement services that help people in the asylum system before they reach crisis point. The forum is a vehicle to give of asylum seekers a campaigning voice on issues like the (broken) dispersal system and for permission to work if a claim is not resolved in six months. Ref. https://asylumearlyaction.org