Asha North Staffordshire
Asha North Staffordshire

Unit 7 Hanley Business Park, Cooper Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4DW

E: [email protected]



Keele University hosted an 8-a-side football tournament to mark World Refugee Week with teams from Asha, Crewe, Derby, and Burton-om Trent.

Asha has enjoyed a growing collaboration with Keele’s English Language Centre and Russell Clark, director of the Centre commenting on tournament said: “Having Keele students and staff meet and socialise with refugees has been a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Hinna Sheikh, Race Equality Officer at Keele University added: “It’s such an honour for us to be hosting this football tournament withr efugees from local and surrounding areas.”


Up to 300 asylum seekers, refugees, volunteers, friends, and supporters of Asha gathered for what is becoming a tradition, a barbecue and festivities to celebrate World Refugee Week.

Asylum volunteers in high-viz Asha jackets, supported by staff,
worked hard all day.

Trustees, Jenny and
Sally, gave a medal to every footballer – Asha sent two teams to
the tournament – and trustee Cath with some young friends, provided
live music, and children gathered round to have their face painted.


It was perhaps three ‘belly dancers, who made the biggest impact, and Keita was a dynamic compere!



The piece de resistance was the arrival of an ice cream van. This was the brainchild of Ryn, who raised money running the Stoke-on-Trent Half Marathon. A queue formed very quickly!




Volunteer Chris Chambers managed the placements and he formally reported as follows:


Once again, we have been able to host four second year medical students from Keele University for 12 weeks. As part of their course, they are expected to be placed in a community organisation, to understand something of the problems of delivering healthcare to people in different situations.

This year has been especially interesting, as they joined us just as ASHA was opening following a closure of the building during the worst of the ‘lockdown,’ and the return of service users was sporadic, with usual activities taking some time to re-start.

Although one of the students intended to help with Saturday football sessions, he managed to sustain an injury prior to starting, and had to opt for alternative activities, such as registering people as they arrived at ASHA, or assisting in English classes, as well as occasionally joining the other three students, who regularly helped with the children’s group on Saturdays.

Although the impact on ASHA of having these students may not have been significant, the students all learned a considerable amount from their time spent with asylum seekers and refugees. This will have a lasting impact on the way in which they approach the provision of healthcare for different communities. As they all worked with the children during their placement, their comments indicated that they had become much more aware of the effects of the trauma that they had suffered on their behaviour, and they are likely to be more understanding of this when dealing with such patients in the future.

One task each student had to do was to design a poster which could be useful for ASHA to advertise services which they provide, or other services which are available to our service users. The posters produced consisted of a general description of what ASHA is trying to do, aimed at the public, encouraging their support; two posters encouraged asylum seekers to enrol at Hanley Central Library; one poster advertised the Saturday children’s club, and the student produced this in five different languages.

Overall, the students benefited from the experience. However, the reduced number of days the organisation was open did have an impact on how they viewed the effectiveness of ASHA, and when they were not responsible for specific tasks such as interacting with children, they felt that at times their skills could have been better used. There were not always sufficient service users who needed their input, and areas such as clothing and food were not highly organised during the immediate post-covid opening, so a lack of clear direction meant that the students felt they were unable to use their time effectively in these situations.

The return of larger numbers of service users should allow Asha to operate for more days of the week, and have greater clarity of purpose, so future students will hopefully find ASHA to be an organisation offering more specific opportunities for the students to develop their skills and understanding.


The City Council has taken the lead with other West Midlands councils to demand that the Home Office dispersal system is just that, that numbers are evenly spread, and Stoke-on-Trent does not accommodate a disproportionate number. The total which exceeded one thousand has now dropped to around eight hundred. Council leader, Abi Brown, commented: “We look forward to working with the government to deliver a fairer system that continues to support vulnerable people fleeing violence and oppression” and “we recognise the immense value they bring to local communities.”

Asha can see where Abi Brown is coming and the council is under no obligation to take any interest in Asha’s services, however a gesture of interest now and again would not come amiss!



S and A (halal) Warehouse has closed and before it shut up shop, Soraya offered Asha some surplus spices. We did not know these would arrive in 5K sacks! Fortunately, large packs of small plastic pots followed and on a sunny morning members of the women’s group set to work. There are three remaining sacks which will receive attention due course. Thank you, Soraya, S and A Warehouse.

TOGETHER WITH REFUGEES continues to campaign for a compassionate approach to refugees and REFUGEE ACTION is fighting anti-refugee laws and Lift the Ban campaign continues to lobby

for asylum seekers to be able to obtain employment while their application is processed


The Institute of Race Relations has published Refugee Action’s opinion piece on the asylum system’s deep racist foundations. We shouldn’t just demand a shift from an inefficient brutalizing system to an efficient one but understand how it’s rooted in colonialism. Link to article –


Loretta’s application for asylum had been unsuccessful when I was introduced as a befriender in March 2018. During the next three years, I got to know her we did not talk very much about her reason for seeking asylum other than she was fearful of her family finding her. I attended enough of her appointments with mental health services to understand something of the impact of severe post traumatic stress which she carried with her.

Loretta was not alone. She had an eight-year-old son with speech and language needs. His GP suspected autism spectrum disorder although an assessment rejected this diagnosis. His school was two miles across the city, and her younger son aged six, nursery school was also some distance from home. I was able to support Loretta to liaise with the education department for a place in a school closer to home and in April 2019, a place was secured.

During this time, the asylum reporting centre was moved from the city to Salford, a journey requiring two trains and a bus. Fortunately, I was able to take Loretta in 2018 and 2019.

After waiting six years, Loretta’s solicitor got in touch in the summer of 2020 to say her appeal was pending. Lockdowns had made the year even more difficult for her and the boys and their mental health had deteriorated. I visited but we could only hold doorstep conversations.

The appeal, scheduled for November, was to take place online and Loretta did not actually meet her solicitor or barrister. She felt vulnerable answering their questions on her mobile phone and we were both relieve when the judge decided that proceeding online placed Loretta at too big a disadvantage and adjourned the case for Loretta to be present in person. When the hearing took place the following January 2021 it was a hybrid model. Loretta, her barrister, and the judge were physically present in Birmingham but other witnesses, including myself, participated via video conference. The judge conducted the case sensitively and ensured that the process took account of Loretta’s emotional needs, and within a month, Loretta learned that her appeal had been successful.

I saw the family a couple of times before they moved to London in April 2021 where Loretta had friends to support her. We remain in touch by text and video calls, mainly around birthdays, and recently, finding London very expensive, the family moved to Coventry.

I expect to keep in contact as long as Loretta wants to. Befriending is a genuinely

two-way process and I’m sure I have gained as much, if not more, than Loretta and her two boys, from our meetings and friendship.
Join our mailing list:

T: 01782363122  Whatsapp Logo
T:  Godfrey on 07429007234   
E:  [email protected]
   T:  Lydia on     0791–411–7440     E:          
[email protected]

Charity Reg. No. 11769634 (England & Wales) Company No. CE013097

Due to the impact of COVID 19, British Red Cross informed us they are unable to provide a service at Asha. They have moved to an online service.
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error
Error: Server configuration issue