While the Asha Centre is based in Hanley, asylum seekers who use the services throughout the week are scattered right across the city from Tunstall to Longton. Asylum seekers are no different to anyone else in their need to travel cheaply – if not always for the same reasons as us, which for them may include;-
- Routine signing on at the centre on Festival Park-sometimes weekly
- Attending medical /hospital appointments
- Meetings with solicitors
- Attending college for free English and other classes
- Attending Asha to access any of the services on offer
- Accessing the cheapest foods and clothing
- Meeting up with others to counteract social isolation
- Allow families to go for cheap trips out if they all have a bike
- Volunteering –you would be surprised how many freely give time to support local voluntary organisations like Age Concern
- Just keeping fit at no cost
Many are obliged to walk long distances to their destinations often in inclement weather. Finding the money to travel by bus even once a week can make a huge dent in the £37 per week each receives while waiting for their claim to be processed.
Asha has found that providing recycled bicycles has been a great solution for many and as fast as the bikes come in and are checked and repaired, then they are found new homes almost immediately. There is always a waiting list, which currently stands at around 20 +.
Checks and repairs are carried out in house by Kirill, an asylum seekers who had a successful career as a highly skilled engineer in his home land.
See him here in his temporary, makeshift ‘workshop’ in the corner of one of the large rooms at Asha.
Nothing is more guaranteed to bring a smile to his face than the delivery of another bike to make roadworthy again.
Over the last year around 50 bikes have been donated from across North Staffordshire.
You may have had a new bike for Christmas and don’t know what to do with the old one or you just haven’t got round to sorting out the one in the garage.
If you have a spare bike in whatever condition (some past their best can be used for spare\parts) and want to do your bit to help asylum seekers and free up space at the same time, do get in touch with Asha or, if you live in Staffordshire Moorlands, with Maureen Wisken on 01538 -285799 (07763-871-092). It helps enormously if you can deliver a bike but if this is not possible we will find someone to do so.
These four young people were thrilled to receive two bikes between them. Asha takes special care giving a bike to a young person because it is important to know that they will be supervised and have a good understanding about cycling safely and looking after their bike.