|Christmas Appeal for women and children seeking asylum
As Christmas approaches, we are asking you to contribute to our Christmas Appeal to help women and children seeking asylum.
Over 50 women attend the fortnightly All African Women’s Group (AAWG) self-help meetings at the Crossroads Women’s Centre where we are based. Many have no permanent home and no income. Some are living on “asylum support” payments which are half of the amount of poverty line benefits available to others. Over half are mothers. At least a quarter have previously been held in detention where they faced poor health care and even sexual abuse from guards.
Women and their families are surviving through mutual support, the kindness of friends, food banks, charities and churches. Just feeding themselves is a daily struggle let alone getting together shoes, winter coats, bedding and other essentials.
|The holiday period is a particularly difficult time, as one woman described:“Christmas should be a time for rejoicing with family. It is a sad moment when I realise that I can’t provide a meal or even a small gift for my daughter. I can’t treat her, not even once a year at this special time.”|
|Times are even harder this year. Legal aid cuts have caused particular devastation as women who have compelling reasons to stay in the UK, are denied lawyers and the means to bring their case to court and then lose their entitlement to support. Cuts in community resources like libraries, playgroups and after-school clubs have pulled the rug out from under many lives.
This year we aim to raise £5,000. For the first time, a private benefactor has promised to match each pound we raise! All the money goes directly to women in need — rare in the world of charity giving and hopefully an encouragement for people to contribute, knowing that none of your money will be squandered. And it makes a massive difference: women can buy a gift for loved ones or put some money towards the expenses of friends or relatives who are giving them shelter over the holiday period.
Despite their hugely difficult circumstances, women are diligent about attending AAWG meetings, supporting each other and speaking out about the injustices they face. This year members have contributed to two parliamentary inquiries into asylum, been interviewed by the media and participated in numerous public events.
Women are buoyed up by and celebrate every hard-won victory. These include: a mother winning family reunion with her son after an 11-year separation; a victim of trafficking from Nigeria winning refugee status; two lesbian women from Uganda winning protection from death threats and extreme violence, and a woman previously held under the Detained Fast Track in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre (where claims are decided within days denying time to gather evidence), winning the right to an appeal court hearing.
|We understand that many people will be feeling hard pressed financially but we ask you to dig deep and contribute as much as you can. We will distribute the money on Saturday 13December when Crossroads Women (the charity which runs the centre where we are based) is hosting a free Festive Tea Party for children and their carers, with entertainment, lucky dip and tasty snacks (www.crossroadswomen.net).|
|Many thanks and best wishes for the holiday season,Niki Adams
4 December 2014
For more information about the AAWG see video here.
Two of the women who will be helped are:
Desiree: who fled child abuse and attempted rape in Cameroon. She came to the UK to study to escape and completed her degree before developing life threatening peritonitis which has caused ongoing ill health. When she came to the self-help group, her claim was stalled. Black Women’s Rape Action Project, one of two anti-rape groups at the Crossroads Women’s Centre, found her a new lawyer and is currently helping her prepare an appeal. Meanwhile Desiree has no income. She arranged to live with a family and does cleaning and childcare for a roof over her head and relies on what they give her and food banks to eat.
Yaema: who fled forced marriage and FGM in Sierra Leone but the Home Office refused her claim. Women Against Rape is providing expert assistance in her appeal. She is living on asylum support which is less than benefits.
How to donate
Click here to donate to the asylum appeal administered on our behalf by the charity Crossroads Women. All donations are gift-aided.
By cheque, payable to Crossroads Women – please let us know by email and specify that you are donating in response to the Christmas Appeal.
If you would like to donate non-perishable food, toiletries or other essential items, these would also be very much appreciated. They can be delivered any day before13 December to the Women’s Centre in Kentish Town (25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX).
Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX Tel: 020 7482 2496