A MESSAGE FROM JOHN
A healthy New Year to Kevin, Godfrey, and Jane and ALL the great Asha team and volunteers
Like everyone I am concerned at the present state of the pandemic, at the increasing number of infections and deaths. This is almost certain to continue until a substantial amount of the general population has been vaccinated. I cannot see a return to normality or an extension of services until this happens.
I feel it is time we reflected on the workload that those providing the services have been carrying for the past nine months, especially, Godfrey, Jane and, of course, Kevin. They deserve our gratitude and thanks as do our volunteers and especially those who withstand snow, bitter wind and rain distributing food outdoors on Thursdays! Covid19 is affecting every aspect of our lives and none more so than those who are in the frontline providing vital services to others. I feel that it is crucial that they feel supported when they are working
under so many restrictions. Until there is a clear sign of a return to some kind of normality, it is important that we do not ask too much of the frontline workers. Just do what is necessary to keep services ticking over until matters improve substantially and an increasing number of volunteers can safely return and start the process of an expansion of the other services that we all long to see. I hope that I am not too pessimistic! best wishes and keep well. John
BabaBabbon is the Go-To Site for What’s On in Stoke-on-Trent
Newcastle-under-Lyme. Asha was pleased to read an account of Asha’s Imagine, a project for children to celebrate last year’s Refugee Week. Asha’s is glad that Baboon also recorded the charity’s indebtedness to the Severn Trent and East Midlands community funds for their help in meeting the cost of the tablets distributed to families last year.
DIGITAL INCLUSION IN HEALTH AND CARE Lessons learned from the NHS Widening
Participation Inclusion programme
Turn to page 34 if you wish to know more about Asha’s participation as a community hub in this Digital Health programme. As well as being one of six of pathfinders, the Good Things Foundation has commission Godfrey to lead four workshops for BME foundation to members develop their capacity to engage and develop digital health skills amongst their constituency.
Asylum Seekers in Crewe
At the beginning of November volunteer, Diane, started collecting food from Asha and delivering it to a house in Crewe where four men seeking asylum were accommodated. One, from Kuwait, spoke little English and was depressed and anxious about his interview with the Home Office. Diane contacted Lydia who telephoned him. Since then, Diane has visited weekly with food and gradually the number needing support has grown. She now delivers 16 bags of food to five addresses. She was pleased to discover another man from Kuwait and the two exchanged phone numbers. A man from Angola wants to volunteer when he is able to do so.
When the pandemic restrictions are lifted, a local Methodist minister hopes that her Church Coffee Shop may become a meeting place for local asylum seekers.
On-line English Teaching
Last February, the Keele Language Centre in conjunction with Asha hosted a training event led by John Sutter, Director of Learning Unlimited and funded by the Education and Training Foundation. The event was well attended with representation from a majority of local ESOL providers. The focus was on the crossover area between Literacy and A0 Beginner English, a field which is currently undergoing a significant amount of research. Then, the March Lockdown and teaching ceased. Happily, Dr Barbara James, a former trustee and long-term Asha volunteer, and Keele’s Language Learning Unit, was soon into the task of setting up online learning to enable student teachers at Keele University and volunteer teachers at Asha to deliver classes to asylum seekers. Keele University staff tests students first to allocate them to a one of two classes of eight students each, others will be taught by Keele’s TESOL students. Barbara who has been Zoom teaching since March, introduced Asha teachers to its operational features, what materials can be used and how to operate them. Keita identified students wanting to learn English, who were then tested for their level by Keele staff, and allocated to Diane and Sue, Mike, Liz and Sally based on the teacher’s preferences. Keita then supported teachers by arranging their classes and ensuring they were able to operate Zoom. We are pleased that new teachers are now coming on board to help with this project. For anyone who would like to teach English, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
and for anyone wanting to learn English, contact email@example.com or call down to Asha
on a Thursday morning and speak to Keita and he will arrange for level testing to be carried
News of old friends
ROZA Many will remember Roza and her husband Aslanbek from Ingushetia. She was one of Asha’s most dedicated volunteers, a committed student who applied herself to studying learning English. She always projected a positive image when she and Aslan had little to be positive about. Roza was all set to do degree at Keele University when the Home Office moved her and Aslan to Leicester. Undaunted, Rosa become a volunteer with the British Red Cross; her training included a two-day Microsoft workshop in London to which Aslan was able to accompany her. She also won a 7-day master class at Leicester University. To top all this, Roza has now achieved a master’s distinction in degree in Banking and Finance. CONGRATULATIONS, ROZA. She and Aslan are arrived in the UK in 2012. They are still waiting on the Home Office to know their future.
KIRILL There is also good news from Kirill. Formidably qualified in building and construction in his native Russia, Kirill found obtaining employment in or near Stoke-on-Trent near to impossible. Seeking another approach, Kirill is embarking on a two-year master’s degree in Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology at Keele University with a view to starting his own company. Meanwhile, he has become a grandfather. His daughter, Masha, has had a baby girl. His other daughter Sofia is a primary school teacher. CONGRATULATION KIRILL.
DEVA Another stalwart Asha volunteer was Deva. Besides beavering away at Asha, she volunteered in a local care home and studied to obtain varying certificates in health and social care. On obtaining ‘leave to remain,’ she was allocated a one-bedroomed flat in Smallthorne. In normal times, it might have been ideal but at the beginning of the pandemic it was lonely and isolating. With her experience and qualifications, a job in Stoke should have been forthcoming. Unfortunately, it wasn’t but through a friend she was offered accommodation and employment in Hemel Hempstead and was soon on her way. WELL- DONE, DEVA.
SULIMAN’S STORY My name is Suliman Musa Arnagouk from Sudan. My wife and three boys are in a camp in Cairo, Egypt. I was granted refugee status on 24th December 2019 and Jez, from ARCH helped me get a council ground floor flat on 31st July 2020. In September, my neighbor above me had a water leak that wrecked my flat so when I returned, I had been locked out because the flat was uninhabitable. Four weeks later I returned to my repainted and repaired flat, I was very thankful for getting a complete makeover. Two weeks later, the
council put in a sprinkler system for fires in the flat. I have a tank of hot water and 3 storage heaters in the flat that work. I only use two storage heaters now. I have set up a direct debit with my Bank with the help of Jez so that my rent and council tax are paid regularly. I have got a fridge-freezer from the Heart Foundation in Stoke and an electric cooker from the Furniture Mine just behind ASHA. I got curtains from Dunelm. I must get an extra bed and blankets for when my family join me. I am very happy with everything. I will get a washing machine and carpets for when my family arrive. (What Suliman forbade to mention is that when his first flat became uninhabitable, it was volunteer John M who had been helping him with his English, who came to the rescue. Suliman stayed with John until he could return to his flat and John has helped him to get a grip on what it means to become a householder!)