Busy times at Asha! A quick update….(29/07/2019)

Period Poverty   Stoke-on-Trent is the first council to make sanitary products available in public buildings. Recognising the headway the area has made under the leadership of Period Power chair and founder, Linda Allbutt, the New Vic Theatre hosted a conference, Seeing Red’  at the beginning of June. This unwrapped the whole issue of period poverty and promoted Unite’s campaign for a change of attitude towards periods. Charlotte, Angela and a Befriender attended.  We were sorry more Asha women could not e there to enjoy the venue and a good lunch but there was no budget for bus fares.

Asha is very grateful for the free sanitary products which Linda delivers periodically; the cost is prohibitive for those on a meagre income.

The Gathering   This was the term used in an invitation for two representatives of Asha to meet Ian Dudson,  Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire,  at a gathering at VAST to learn about his work and the contribution of Voluntary Action Stoke-on-Trent,  the Staffordshire Community Foundation and Connecting Tracks to supporting the work of charities like Asha.  Angela and Godfrey attended and were glad to renew contact with people and groups with whom we have collaborated in the past.

Hardship Commission In May Rosalyn Beddows (Staffordshire University) and community researchers Jennifer Spice and Lynne Ball attended a Friday Hub Meeting to tell us about Stoke’s Hardship Commission. The Commission is investigating how poverty and hardship feel and what can be done to make life better for those who struggle to make ends meet. Rosalyn outlined an imaginative approach using simple diagrams to help people to identify their income level on four ladders and used the opportunity to show how their focus groups operate. Asha hopes the voice of asylum seekers will be part of the final report and John with three of our participating asylum seekers will attend a feedback event on 11 June.

BBC Radio Stoke    Angela and an asylum seeker turned out at 8.00am on a Sunday morning to promote Asha’s Refugee Week events and invite local people to attend.

Refugee Week:  Exploring Your Culture and Mine                                               

Asha celebrated Refugee Week with two inclusive events bringing together men, women and families seeking asylum and our volunteers, supporters and members of the local community.  This year Matt Pointon TUC Projects Officer and Mark Robinson, PSCU Regional Training Officer facilitated a morning session on Crossing Cultures and Sexual Consent.  After a delicious lunch cooked by two asylum volunteers, Maggie Thompson of Laughter Association UK orchestrated a session of Laughter Yoga. It was great fun.  Laughter is great therapy although I’m not sure it was what four representatives of Synetics Solutions expected.

Refugee Week: Social Inclusion in Action                                                             

The second event on Saturday,(22 June)  was on Asha’s car park which hosted  Murphy’s Marbles, a Celtic band led by Asha’s chair Kevin Sauntry, a performance by young people from Silverdale’s North Star Community Circus and a Barbecue laid on by members of our Sudanese community.  Asha’s footballers played teams from Derby and Tamba and Misbah organised a Grand Litter Pick with pickers kitted out in bibs which declared ‘Asha supports the community.’ Members of the City Centre Mosque joined in and we were glad of the loan of litter picking sticks and hoops from the City Council.

After weeks of rain the sun shone and it was a glorious day.

Garden Party A week later a garden party – with strawberries – was organised by an Asha volunteer. As it was on a Saturday only a few Asha ‘folk’ could attend because Saturday means the women and children clubs and football. By all accounts it was a lovely event and raised £330 for Asha.

Lichfield Food Bank When Lichfield has surplus they do us proud and this time their donation arrived when Asha was facing a critical shortage. Thank you Lichfield FB.

Visit to the Central Library Members of Anita’s class forsook the classroom for a visit to the library, a new experience and all took out books.

Reach Up Coca-Cola European Partners and UK Youth are working in partnership with Sporting Communities to deliver an exciting new ‘employability’ project.  Keita enlisted 25 asylum seekers to take part in this six week programme and it got off to a flying start on Monday (22 July). Its aim is to teach the kind of skills needed to get a job. Being the start of the holidays the centre was alive with children and it was as well that our two asylum cooks over catered because they must have fed at least 45 people.  For the Coco-Cola volunteers the day was a new experience which by all accounts they thoroughly enjoyed and the feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive.

Bicycles On Wednesday (24 July) volunteer Phil Moors delivered 10 bikes.  They all appeared to be a good condition but Keita and his team give them an overhaul before they are given to the next ten asylum seekers on the waiting list.

Asha Hub Meeting Angie Powers and Adrian Black from the Bowel Cancer Screening Nursing Team attended the Hub meeting to tell us about the NHS outreach programme.  It has seen uptake increase from around 50/55% to 65%. They have diagrammatic leaflets in Polish, Arabic and Urdu which, for example, include tips on how to collect your poo! It was agreed they will offer a date to talk to the Women’s Group and then to move on to the footballers. 

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