It was with a heavy heart that Asha bowed to the inevitable and closed except for two hours a day on two days a week.

This is so the 100+ men, women and families who call each week for food can continue to do so.

At present Asha has not been able to buy-in supplies but we hope when panic buying eases, we will be able to do so. We are determined to offer this most practical support and signifier that we care to our users for as long as possible.

Already Asha supporters have shown they care and have begun to donate money as well as food. We can use both!

Food can most easily be delivered to the porch of
32 Dartmouth Avenue, Newcastle ST5 3NY

This will maintain the distance we are being asked to keep from one another.

For details of ways to donate, please log on



We worry about parents with children especially single Mums and women on their own. For these, the Women and Children groups are the highlight of the week. Friendships are formed and mutual help and support comes to the fore. Loneliness is alleviated and social isolation lessened. Football performs a similar function for young me, offering a semblance of normality and a relief from stress.

During the weeks ahead, Asha will seek to phone our users to reassure them that they are not forgotten, and that Asha remains there for them.


Our volunteers are telling us that they are as bereft as we are. Getting to know people from different parts of the world, doing whatever we can to ‘make a difference,’ is enriching. To suddenly be torn away from welcoming newcomers and from sharing the time of day with those we are accustomed to seeing most weeks, is wretched.

Please keep us and our users in your mind’s eye.

Godfrey, Jane, Lydia, John, Angela, Ryn, Jackie, Paula, Gill, Keita and Tamba

International Women’s Day Celebration in Hanley, Saturday March 7th 2020

Women, men and children from across the world came together to celebrate International Women’s Day at an event hosted by Asha.

The women enjoyed relaxation workshops, yoga, hand massages and henna hand-painting, while children decorated a plant-pot, designed a kite and drew pictures of inspirational women in their lives at the RVS in Hanley.

Guest speaker Toyin Higgs, the Football Association’s City Partnership Development Officer for UEFA Women’s Euro 2021, spoke how women in sport were helping to fly the flag for equality, and how she herself, as first generation British, knew the importance of working for a more equal society.

Stoke Central MP Jo Gideon spent two hours at the event talking with people and getting to know about the experiences of asylum seekers and what they would like to see changed for the better. She said her case workers could come to Asha to help people with their concerns.

The Asha team of drummers got the music and dancing started and played a mix of African and Afghan tunes which had everyone on their feet. Rebecca and Kate from B’Arts provided the children’s activities and Amanda and Morgan from Fenton Environmental Community Cluster asked people to write an inspirational word on material hearts which will then be embroidered and made into a quilt.

Jackie Gregory, Asha’s women’s wellbeing worker, said: “Our city is now home for many women who have made journeys of a lifetime, who are resilient and talented, making friends and contributing to the community. We thought International Women’s Day was an ideal day to celebrate this and thank all the Asha volunteers who helped to make it a memorable day, and thank everyone for coming and taking part.”

  International Women’s Day is officially held on March 8 each year. It’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also making a call to action to accelerate gender equality.

Community Safety for Asylum Seekers 28 February 2020

Introduced and facilitated by Godefroid, fifteen Asha users divided into two groups and were asked to identify acceptable and unacceptable behaviour ‘back home’ contrast this with what may be acceptable or unacceptable here in the UK.  Alcohol and drunkenness, sexual consent, rape, grooming and touching as well as sexual identity and trans gender issues were instanced as areas of behaviour which aroused some uncertainty.  When the session ended, users continued to ask questions and to discuss the various topics. All agreed that they felt better informed and more confident than before.

Tamba Musa, who convened the session commented, “Community learning is creating a very positive impact on the lives of service users. The frequency of their being involved in crime is presently low and being well informed should keep it that way.”

Drummers delight at Leek Concert Saturday 7 March 2020

Trinity Church Leek has long been a supporter of Asha and was delighted to invite our African drummer friends to contribute to a concert in aid of Act21, a local charity which provides services for young people in the area. Their playing and singing was enthusiastically received and resulted in an impromptu session with one of the choirs during the interval. As Tamba, one of the drummers, commented, “We are very pleased to join you and give something back to a community which continues to support us”.

A member of the audience, also a newcomer, said “Everyone really enjoyed the Extravaganza on Saturday, especially the Asha drummers, they were brilliant!”

ESOL training event success 26 February 2020

Keele Language Centre, in conjunction with ASHA North Staffordshire, successfully hosted an ESOL training event on Thursday 20 February 2020 led by John Sutter, Director of Learning Unlimited (specialist in ESOL/ELT and Literacy Education) and funded by the Education and Training Foundation.

The event was well attended with representation from a majority of the local ESOL providers, including Stoke on Trent College, Sanctus, ASHA North Staffordshire, Harper Adams, Keele’s Trinity CertTESOL students, and language training staff.

The focus was on the crossover area between Literacy and A0 Beginner English, a field which is currently undergoing a significant amount of research. , including information on how staff can get involved in learning a new language. 

Dr Barbara Enid James

Keele University Medical Students on Placement February 2020

For several years, Asha has welcomed four second year medical students on a  community placement for a minimum of 22 hours.  Starting with an induction about Asha’s services, policies and procedures the students meet with newcomers to our country and to Stoke and hear something of what they have endured to get here.  This year all four students were from, what we call, ethnic communities.  So, they blended in perfectly with the ASHA client group!

One of the students was himself an asylum seeker who came to Britain in 2008.  Since then he has graduated and is studying medicine.  Being a graduate, he is unable to get a student loan and he has a part-time job to support himself and he also manages to send some help to his family back home.  He is what might be rightly called, a busy, inspirational person and a real bonus to his adopted country. 

We hope that these community placements will continue to be of mutual help to both students and ASHA.

John Walsh

Rolling with it during half term February 2020

Twenty-two children and eight parents strapped on roller skates and got in touch with their inner child during the half term break.

There were a few trips and falls, no broken bones and a lot of laughter as Asha children and parents had their very first Roller Disco at the YMCA in Hanley.

Many had never been roller skating before and for others it was a treat they had not had since they left their home country.

A huge thank you to our volunteers Sophie, Mel and Laura and the staff at the YMCA for supporting me, Eva and Jacky to run the session.

All had a great morning and would like to repeat the expererience again.

Valentine’s Day at Asha 14/02/2020

Women from Asha joined in a kitchen party to decorate biscuits for Valentine’s Day and make these lovely gift boxes. We celebrated together the importance of companionship and support for each other, and gave out our gifts to others in order to spread the love. At Asha’s Friday community meal, men and women wrote love lines on post-it notes either in English or their own language. No-one was shy in coming forward, clearly there are many romantics attending Asha!

A new teacher’s account of her first class 10 February 2020

(Men predominate in the English classes and this sidesteps learning around those things likely to matter most to women, hence a ‘women only’ group to be tutored by a young Muslim mother!) 

The tutor began with two women from Sudan and one from Morocco. Reporting on her first session, she commented “The students seemed very keen and we got on great. I planned for the beginners tefl class and it fitted perfectly with the ladies. We covered basics such as the alphabet, pronouncing, writing and naming things we use in everyday life.

I covered how to do self-introduction such as My name is, I am from, I am married, and I am X years old. We practiced what is termed Survival English, which covers matters like going to the doctors or the pharmacy or visiting a child’s school.  I then introduced numbers 1-5, how to use and recognize coins. We worked with 1p-5p’s and the different ways we could make 2p,3p 4p and 5p, so handy when going to the shops. We spoke English most of the time and when the ladies struggled to understand I knew  enough  Arabic to help them.

The students were given some simple homework and were eager for two lessons a week. At the moment, I will stick to one a week to see how we progress together.

Time To Talk Day 06/02/2020

Time to Talk Day is a national event taking place in work places, schools, community settings and homes.  Its a chance for us to talk about mental health and encourage friends, colleagues, neighbours and families to do the same.

At Asha we had a wellbeing awareness day.  Around 30 Asha members took part having conversations around wellbeing and mental health.  There was a positive vibe around the place with balloons, mandala colouring, Jackie’s crafts boxes, stress relief toys  and breathing techniques.