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RECENT NEWS/ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Refugee Week 2024 Image

The theme for Refugee Week 2024 is “Our Home”.
More details at https://refugeeweek.org.uk/theme-2024-ourhome/

Friday June 21st  Celebrate Refugee Week, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Chad’s Church and Community Centre, Lime Street, Wolverhampton, WV3 0EX.
*World music and dance
*Snacks from across the world
*World games
*Fashion from many countries – dress in your favourite clothes.
We hope you can join volunteers, trustees and supporters to celebrate Refugee Week 2024 with friends from around the world.  Please R.S.V.P. by June 12th.  Please let us know the number and ages of any children you will be bringing with you.

Photo of Gelliwig hostel

Summer Holidays?

Some of us struggle to find the money to pay for a holiday.  Sanctuary-seekers don’t have any spare money to pay for even a day-trip.

Since 2017, the Wolverhampton Society of Friends (Quakers) has joined with the Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary charity and the Birch Thompson Memorial Fund to provide holidays for Sanctuary Seekers and their children. Those invited are known to the Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary through its regular weekly Drop-in Centre meeting.

Three groups are taken by volunteers to stay at Gelliwig, the Charity Residential Centre in Porthmadog owned by the Birch Thompson Memorial Fund. These five-day holidays provide a most welcome short respite from daily life in temporary accommodation in the Wolverhampton area.

Seventy people including children benefit from these holidays, and the cost in the region of £7,000 has to be raised every year.  In 2023, the People’s Fundraising page raised over £1,000, and our target this year is to raise at least that much from this wider appeal to the general public.

We do hope that you will help us to continue this venture and bring a short break for those who have escaped from persecution, violence and similar threats in their lives. You can donate at:
https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/donation/wolverhampton-asylum-seekers-2024 .

 

Refugees into Nature (2)

Photo of Sanctuary-Seekers and Volunteers at the Cambrian Wildwood Project

Sanctuary-Seekers and Volunteers at the Cambrian Wildwood Project

In June 2023, Cambrian Wildwood invited us to bring a minibus full of asylum seekers to an open day at their wildlife restoration project in Wales, and following a great fundraising effort, they’ve been able to invite us back for several more visits this year.  “At Cambrian Wildwood we believe that everybody has the right to experience nature and wild spaces, and benefit from the improvements this brings to physical and mental well-being.  That’s why we have developed a collection of programmes aimed at encouraging a diverse range of people to get outside, learn new skills, develop relationships and build confidence.”

Photo of Children Pond-Dipping Photo of Children identifying.....something!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“All the people really engaged with activities and just being there, making it very worthwhile.  Their faces relaxed and the smiles got less hesitant as the day went on”.  “Some of the children said it was the best day ever and wanted to stay forever – so the day was a definite success!”.  “People came from Iran, Iraq, and China. None of those families would normally get to go to the countryside”.  “A lovely day; It felt very relaxed.  It was so good to see the children embrace the place and just enjoy being outside”.  “Some of the children have faced very difficult situations in their personal lives, so it was great to be able to help them in this way”.  “It will be a lasting memory of happiness for everyone – particularly the children who had such a wonderful time.”

 

"free the Rwanda detainees" banner“We are shocked and dismayed at the images circulated by the Home Office of asylum seekers being detained in hand cuffs and pushed into caged vans. They now face many months of stressful detention before possible deportation to Rwanda.

These are not criminals; many are people seeking sanctuary who have already lived through the trauma of war, loss and persecution. Most of those detained last week would qualify for asylum; 18% are Afghans and 21% Syrians whose countries have been wracked by violence and intervention by foreign powers – including the UK.

We cannot imagine what they are feeling, but we do know that the community of sanctuary seekers in Wolverhampton is suffering distress and extreme anxiety as a result of this latest government action and, like other refugee support organisations, we are trying to provide accurate information for them and stay alongside them.

As a charity committed to Human Rights, we believe in a fair, well-managed, and compassionate asylum system, and are ashamed of the actions of our government.”

 

A rally against the Rwanda Bill, current government operations of asylum seeker detainments, and forced deportations to Rwanda, has been held in Birmingham, amid regular protests outside a Home Office reporting centre in Solihull.  Activists want Rwanda deportation plans to cease.  Click HERE to view the video (including supporters from Wolverhampton).

 

Link to May National Newsletter

Click the Picture for the May National Newsletter

 

St.Chad’s Community Centre (on Google Streetview)

WEEKLY DROP-IN  In January 2024, we moved to larger premises, St. Chad’s Community Centre (building shared with the Church of St.Chad and St.Mark), at the junction of Owen Road and Lime Street, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton, WV3 0EX.  Still from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Frequent number 2 bus from the City Centre to bus stop on Lea Road close to Owen Road, then walk down Owen Road to the Community Centre (entrance in Lime Street).  You can get on the bus at City Centre bus stops in Stafford Street (University) – Lichfield Street (Art Gallery) – Darlington Street (‘top end’) or School Street.  Click HERE for map.

 

This Winter Help Make WELCOME WidespreadBUYING BOOKS FOR BIRTHDAYS?  Looking for stories to inform children and adults about the lives of asylum seekers and refugees?  Click HERE for details of nine books recommended by the BBC Radio 4 programme “Open Book” (28/09/23).  Stories to incite compassion and increase understanding (and a good read as well!).

 

Refugee Week 2023 Banner (designed by Murugiah)
Refugee Week 2023 lasted seven days, but the movement for a kinder, fairer and more joyful world continues all year round. Every action makes a difference, and when we come together, we are powerful.  Click HERE for some ideas on the national website for staying involved.

The theme for Refugee Week 2024 is “Our Home”.  More details at https://refugeeweek.org.uk/theme-2024-ourhome/

 

Displaced Student Opportunities UK  Study opportunities to support access to university for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.  https://www.displacedstudent.org.uk/ .  A website jointly hosted by three organisations: Refugee Education UK, Student Action for Refugees, and Universities of Sanctuary.

We have updated our W’ton City of Sanctuary INTRODUCTORY LEAFLET – Click for Version to Read or Version to Print .

DONATIONS – We continue to raise money for our Exceptional Needs Fund for destitute Asylum Seekers.  To donate to this or the Drop-In or to our other costs, Click Here .

 

Our Drop-In Centre volunteers need helpers!   Could you help with simple but essential jobs like assisting at the Welcome Desk or in the Coffee Bar kitchen? (as and when you’re available?).  For further information, please contact [email protected] .  Volunteers will need to comply with our Safeguarding procedures and Code of Conduct.

 

What’s COP got to do with refugees?

It might not seem that climate change is linked to the growing number of refugees. Yet as the climate has become less stable, the number of refugees world-wide has increased in recent years. Sometimes the link is direct – e.g., when floods or famine caused by climate change force people to leave their homes.

But the indirect impact can be huge too. As crops fail, so poverty increases and communities fall apart. As people become more desperate, it becomes easier for extremists or organised crime to flourish and to take control. Violence ensues, and innocent people have to flee.

It is clear that if we do not get a grip on climate change very soon, we will see many more refugees and displaced people across the world. Coastal communities from nearby west Wales all the way to far off Pacific islands will face tidal flooding; food supplies will be hit and make prices rise even further, and famines will be more common. Poverty, war and instability will increase.

Smestow Valley TreesIt’s in all of our interests to address the issue, whether that is our governments at their COP talks or us at our local community level. Trees are one of the simplest, cheapest, and most natural ways to control the climate. And we can all play a part by caring for trees and green spaces and planting more trees. Some asylum seekers have volunteered time to look after Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve. One very productive area has seen sanctuary seekers take on new allotments, growing their own fruit and veg, and sharing ideas with neighbouring allotment holders. (See photo and article below).

 

CofS on YouTube  National City of Sanctuary now has its own YouTube channel, on which you can see video briefings, videos of recent conference presentations, and specialist webinar discussions.  Click HERE to see the video menu.

 

One of our young refugees recently heard that his brother had died at sea:

Poster #WeStandWithRNLI

“We’re proud of the lifesaving work our volunteers do in the Channel – we make no apology for it. Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger & distress. Each of them is someone’s father, mother, son or daughter – every life is precious.”  RNLI – July 28th

 

COVID Vaccination  Doctors (GPs) are making sure that everyone who needs a COVID vaccination gets one.  All asylum seekers and refugees have the right to register with a GP.  Here’s the card being used in the current publicity campaign [Note the 0300 311 2233 (standard rate) phone number in case of refusal]:

 

 

 

 

 

AND ALSO “How to access medical care as an asylum seeker”  Click HERE to read an excellent leaflet which explains in clear and straightforward English: your rights, how to register with a GP, what happens if you move, access to mental health care and many other issues.  Click HERE for translations into: Albanian, Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, and Tigrinya.

CF-BarrowCadburyTrust_LogosWe are delighted to have been awarded a joint grant from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, to help us to ensure that the children of asylum seekers are not disadvantaged in their education.  Click HERE for more information.

 

Link to NACCOM websiteWe have also been awarded a grant from NACCOM, the UK-wide “No Accommodation Network”, which has been used to purchase another 14 laptops.  A “thank-you” video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/DIu6rT9Vyo4 .

 

Photo of Gill Kelly and Hamia Boutarik with Cookbooks

“A love of cooking among a city’s migrant community has helped to produce a unique cookbook.”
Click the picture for the full article in the Wolverhampton Express & Star.

Main photo of Allotments article in W'ton Express & Star

“Sanctuary seekers living the good life at Wolverhampton allotments”
Click the picture for the full article in the Wolverhampton Express & Star.

Link to Article in Wolverhampton Express & Star

Desiree Lieuwo with some of the masks she has made.
Click the picture for the full article in the Wolverhampton Express & Star.

 

?How to Occupy/Amuse/Educate yourself and your children during the school holidays?  You might like to try some free online English Lessons: https://www.esolcourses.com/uk-english/beginners-course/free-english-lessons.html , then try the more advanced lessons!

We have a guidance leaflet to help people wishing to donate Goods for use by Asylum Seekers and Refugees – please click HERE.

A group of our female volunteers are succeeding with their Pants & Pads campaign – To collect donations of those extra essentials for female asylum seekers which asylum support payments of as little as £36 per week don’t allow for.  Items can be handed in at our Weekly Drop-In (see below) or contact [email protected] .  Click HERE for jpg leaflet.

 


OLDER NEWS:

Link to April National Newsletter

Click the Picture for the April National Newsletter

 

WCC Photo of Award PresentationWe welcome The King’s CofE School in Tettenhall to our family of Schools of Sanctuary in Wolverhampton.  Click the Photo to see more on the City Council website. You can find more about other Schools of Sanctuary in Wolverhampton on our Schools webpage .  Headteacher Joy Langley said: “We are delighted to have received School of Sanctuary status.  This award is a recognition of The King’s being a school where everyone is welcomed”.  [Now known as “St. Regis CE Academy”].

 

On Tuesday May 4th we held an Online Briefing Session about the government’s proposed “New Plan for Immigration”. After a presentation by Emma Birks of Asylum Matters, we had a Question & Answer session to clarify understanding of the key proposals, and a discussion of future cooperation to promote the welfare of asylum seekers and refugees facing possible new legislation. A Brief Summary is available HERE. Details of a follow-up session will be available from [email protected]. Advocating on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees may include challenging those parts of the “New Plan” which may appear to be unworkable, illegal under international law, or contrary to established British values [Wolverhampton has been welcoming refugees since at least 1914].
If you missed the Online Briefing Session, there are Briefing Papers available at: OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT , “NATIONAL CITY of SANCTUARY” , “ASYLUM MATTERS” , “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL” , “FREE MOVEMENT” , “FREEDOM FROM TORTURE” , and QUAKER . Unfortunately, the government’s recent time-limited consultation on the “New Plan” could easily be interpreted as asking, not “How do you think that the asylum system could be made to work better?”, but rather, “What do you think would be the most effective ways of making it more difficult for refugees to apply for asylum?”. Hence the comments in various briefing papers that some of the questions were just unanswerable.

Christmas Gift Appeal – Success!
We are family to over 300 sanctuary seekers who are far from home. In normal times, we host a Christmas party in December for around 300 local asylum seekers and refugees, but we could not hold this due to COVID-19. You may have contributed in previous years to our pile of Christmas shoeboxes filled with gifts for Santa to distribute, but this has not been possible with the current restrictions. Instead, we have given each family a gift voucher and a Greetings Card, and arranged an online performance by a children’s magician, and for this we raised over £3000. Thank you to those who visited our JustGiving™ page, or donated by cheque or bank transfer.
[The design for the Greetings Card was chosen from designs by the children who entered our Christmas Card Competition at half term].

 

CookBook Cover PhotoRefugee Week Cookery Book of World Recipes to be reprinted!
Our volunteer Gill Kelly collected some of the recipes which had been greeted with great acclaim at our ‘Near Neighbours’ Drop-In Food Club. These were published in a Cookery Book (sample page available HERE) with the first print run delivered as gifts to our regular Drop-In guests, as some small compensation for cancelled holiday trips and days out (Thanks to our donors who raised the money for this). Now we are printing more as a fundraising endeavour, with the possibility of a special Christmas Edition. This is a collaboration with Hope Projects and the Wolverhampton Refugee and Migrant Centre – See their ‘CookBook Page’ at https://rmcentre.org.uk/refugee-week-cook/ . For the rarer ingredients, look for the Wolverhampton food shops specialising in particular countries, including those in Worcester Street, Salop Street, Newhampton Road, and Staveley Road, and also the many small Asian shops. Some large supermarkets (including Sainsburys) have a ‘World Foods’ section.

Why do refugees trust their lives to criminal gangs?
One former migrant opens up about his dangerous journey to the UK –
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07rx0fb/player

“Lessons Not Learned: How asylum decision-making in the UK has repeatedly failed”

Click HERE to read this disturbing report, on the National City of Sanctuary website.
Unfortunately, it’s not getting any better, as this recent article in the Guardian describes.

 

Stansted 15 BannerFor International Migrants Day 2018, about 30 people gathered in Queen’s Square, Wolverhampton at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday 18th December, to stand in solidarity with the Stansted 15.  In an effort to prevent the involuntary deportation of 60 people from Stansted airport in March 2017, the Stansted 15 had blockaded a Home Office charter flight as it was leaving.  After a lengthy trial, the group were found guilty of the terrorism-related offence of “endangering an airport”.  The Stansted 15 faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for preventing the plane from taking off.  Click HERE to read the response of a local poet.  Click HERE for a January 2021 update – Appeal successful!

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“Asylum seekers in ‘damp, dirty, vermin-infested’ housing” – BBC News, November 20th, 2018.  See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46282158# for this BBC news item about the report of the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.  “Less than a quarter of state-run accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK is compliant with standards, a much-delayed report has found”.  43% were “not fit for purpose” or needed “urgent” repairsWolverhampton City of Sanctuary assisted with the gathering of evidence for this report, and offer this summary – CLICK HERE .  The full report (76 pages) is available HERE .

See our Facebook page (link above) for photos of the recent West Midlands regional City of Sanctuary Gathering, hosted by Wolverhampton CofS.  Click HERE for a fuller report, on the national CofS website, including links to some of the presentations.

Our thanks to Wolverhampton Quaker Meeting for arranging and funding a seaside holiday for parents and children attending our Wednesday Drop-In.  Photo Albums of the Porthmadog hostel, Black Rock Sands beach, the Welsh Highland Railway, and Caernarfon Castle can be found in mid-August posts at https://en-gb.facebook.com/wolverhamptonquakers/ .


FOR YOUR ATTENTION!

Like to make a donation?……… Cheques should be made payable to Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary and sent to: The Treasurer, Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary, c/o WVCA, Paycare House, George Street, Wolverhampton City Centre, WV2 4DX.  Online donations can be made via the Charities Aid Foundation website (just type in “Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary”).  At a late stage in the ‘Give by Debit/Credit Card’ process, it asks “Do you want to Gift Aid this donation”.  The CAF admin fee deducted is 5%, which should be more than covered by reclaimed Gift Aid where eligible.  If you are giving from your own CAF account, then that will already include reclaimed Gift Aid.

Additional English Tutor(s) needed!  We have tutors for English and sometimes for Numeracy/Maths, giving lessons from 10 am to 11 am and from 11 am to 12 noon during our Drop-In each Wednesday.  The aims are to give learners a knowledge of basic English grammar, spelling and punctuation, and also to give learners the confidence to speak, write and read English.  Success means that we now need additional English tutors in order to continue providing the individual tuition needed by our diverse group of learners.  Just come along.  Volunteers will need to comply with our Safeguarding procedures and Code of Conduct.

The Refugee and Migrant Centre have a VACANCY for a Volunteer (two days per week) to assist in preparing clients to take the “Life in the UK” Citizenship Test.  Details available HERE .  More details from Sarah, 01902-313794,  [email protected] .

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Useful BBC summary of facts about Unaccompanied Childrenhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36714617

“A national shortage of foster carers means councils are struggling to care for the children”,
says the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
Click Here
for information about fostering a child in Wolverhampton.
Click Here for information about the YMCA ‘Host Family’ scheme.


Link to PDF documentGetting English Language Lessons makes a big difference to asylum seekers and refugees, but isn’t easy when you have no money to spare. Your website manager (who accepts responsibility for any inaccuracies) has attempted to list the conditions for some people to get free College Courses, and the places where free or low cost English Lessons may be available to others.  CLICK HERE to see version 13.

Let Refugees Learn photo link Refugees and asylum seekers who have fled to the UK want to rebuild their lives in peace. But, although they have reached safety, many of them can’t begin their new lives – working, studying, contributing to their community – because they can’t speak the language.
There are a few simple changes that the government could make that would give refugees and asylum seekers the access to English language teaching they want and need.  CLICK HERE for details.


Wildside Activity Centre Logo.

Low-cost refugee-friendly Parent & Toddler activity mornings for families in Whitmore Reans and Farndale (north-west Wolverhampton) – “Little Explorers”, every Monday.  http://www.wildsideac.co.uk/march-2016?id=281  Phone: 01902-572240.  Email: [email protected]

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tabernaclebaptist_321px

Google Streetview

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Refugee-friendly parent & child “Stay & Play”, every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Tabernacle Baptist Church, at the junction of Dunstall Road and Staveley Road, in the Whitmore Reans area.  Postcode: WV6 0NJ.  Bus Route 5.  Up to about age 3.

 

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Local Government Association LogoThe Local Government Association – Refugees and unaccompanied children: ” THIS PAGE  is a one-stop resource; We will continue to update these resources as more information comes through – keep checking this page to stay up to date”.

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Photo of Book CoverPhoto of Book CoverWolverhampton Libraries have many true stories of life as a refugee, as well as Studies of the issues.  Click HERE to see them in the online catalogue.

Picture of Book Cover

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For Children’s Fiction and Adult Fiction featuring life as a refugee, click HERE.

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More Books on our Resources webpage.

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Registered Charity No. 1176101