Unit 7 Hanley Business Park, Cooper Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4DW
Asha supporters raised a record sum of £6655.00.
Asha staff and volunteers wrapped 454 gifts for seventy-seven children at the North Stafford Hotel, and seventy one at the Great Western Hotel in Hanley, and three hundred and four children of families already here.
Asha welcomes Ryn Bentham as our new deputy manager and Miriam Mamalouk as our volunteer and befriending coordinator.
In early December, men, women and families from the scandal-hit Manston Immigration Centre where conditions were described as appalling, unexpectedly arrived in Stoke-on-Trent. With little more than what they stood up in, they were accommodated at the North Stafford Hotel and the Great Western Hotel in Hanley.
Many quickly found their way to Asha for clothing and support and it was soon standing room only. Staff, asylum and local volunteers welcomed them with refreshments, a listening ear, advice and guidance, access to a computer and Wi-Fi, and after their gruelling journey, the children find respite in plenty of toys to play with.
Learning or improving English is a priority. If you think that conversational English or a small group of students is up your street, speak to Keita. An enquiry does not commit you!
A welcome event is expected to take place at the Great Western Hotel on Sunday 29th January from 12.00 –100pm.
See page 4 for details.
Staff visit the North Stafford on Tuesdays from 1-4.00pm to offer games and activities for the children and offer assistance in applying for Section 95 support. Until then nobody had money to buy what we might very well regard as essentials. Volunteer Chris, who teaches English at Asha, visits regularly and is an additional friendly, care face.
Rallied by NorSCARF and Asha, local people gathered outside the North Stafford Hotel to welcome the new arrivals with coffee, tea and biscuits.
Miriam eloquently describes how she and Ryn made two journeys to Birmingham to collect toys from Signal 1 Mission Christmas. She writes: ‘It was incredible to see the love and effort of so many who come together to ensure no one was forgotten this Christmas. We had amazing turn out of volunteers to wrap gifts and we did so in record time (due to Ryn’s well-honed organisational ability!). We could not have done so without so many offering their time. It was a lovely day, wrapping gifts with music on in the background, and a delicious lunch prepared Ryn’s Mum and Fudia, Tamba’s wife.
‘We had great support delivering the gifts with lots of regular ASHA volunteers but also a lot of familiar faces from the past and family and friends of staff.’
The Salvation Army in Leek, BBC Radio Stoke and many private donors also donated gifts. Many recipients received more than one and this in itself was a pleasure for the giver and receiver.
Asha was able to arrange a small party at the North Stafford Hotel. It was a beautiful afternoon, Keita provided a speaker so people could play their own music and songs from their own culture and share traditional dancing. Santa was able to give each child chocolate donated by Stanworth Funfair.
Instead of a one big Christmas celebration, this year, Asha organised a series of smaller parties for the women and children’s clubs, mums and babies, younger teenagers, and the men’s group.
Our regular asylum volunteers were involved in all these activities.
An event which went unrecorded in the previous bulletin is that B ’Arts invited Asha’s youth group to take part in their Sea of Change Lantern Procession. Their youth engagement worker, Martin, who has been leading on arts and crafts in the youth group taught them to make lanterns so they could all join in. It was moving to hear Newcastle’s Town Crier dedicate the occasion to those who are forced to travel overseas in the hope of a better future.
Refugee Action says: LIFT THE BAN: GIVE PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM THE RIGHT TO WORK
‘A builder, a chef, an office worker, a scientist, a farmer, a care worker and a teacher, want to work. It sounds like a set for a punchline, it’s the Home Office rules which freeze them out because they are seeking asylum that are a joke.
‘It is not just non-sensical, the ban is harmful to everyone involved. It takes the toughest toll on people seeking asylum, but the UK economy also misses out on tax revenues and much needed specialists by leaving people in poverty’.
In November, Refugee Action tried to deliver a giant cheque for £300 million to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt. That’s how much money the treasury would get in savings and new tax if the government lifted the ban. Lifting the ban goes beyond the economic argument. It would allow people to move out of poverty and improve their mental health.
The time has come to Lift the Ban. WRITE TO YOUR MP.
WELCOME TO STOKE 2
Following the success of the NorSCARF and Asha asylum seeker winter appeal and solidarity event at the North Stafford Hotel, supporters will gather again outside the Best Western (formerly Quality Hotel) in Hanley (ST15NB) from 12 noon until 1pm on Sunday 29th January.
We hope as many people as possible will join us. You are invited to bring donated items such as shoes, clothes, snacks, toys, board games, new sets of underwear/socks, colouring books, sanitary products, comfort items, tea/coffee, sugar, biscuits, and long-life milk.
We would also like you to bring hot drinks in flasks and disposable cups to share warm drinks and snacks outside the hotel. Please bring welcoming signs and placards to show your support for the new arrivals.
This will be an opportunity to help those in need and to show Stoke as the welcoming and inclusive city.
Join our mailing list: https://asha-uk.org/
T: Godfrey on 0742-900-7234 E: [email protected]
T: Lydia on 07914-117-440 E: [email protected]
Charity Reg. No. 11769634 (England & Wales) Company No. CE013097