Urgent Christmas appeal for destitute women & children

Dear Friends, Each year for nearly a decade, Legal Action for Women has organized a Christmas appeal for destitute women and children in the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) — the self-help group of women asylum seekers based with us at the Crossroads Women’s Centre.  We have been amazed at people’s generosity. People who have very little themselves dig deep to help women who have even less. We thank you for that. This year we are sending a letter from Gloria from the AAWG as she can describe directly what women need and the difference this Christmas money makes to women’s lives.

Hello, my name is Gloria,

I am the chair of the All African Women’s Group.

We are a group of African women who formed a group which also welcomed women from other continents. We are asylum seekers and refugees. Most of us are mothers and some of us have our children with us and others had to escape from their country without them. The majority of women in our group are destitute and our situation has been made worse by this pandemic.

Last year after the Christmas appeal, we decided to survey our members because it seemed that many women had very little money. What we found shocked us so we published the results in a report called Up from Destitution. Nearly half of the women in our group had no income at all. Where women had access to some money it wasn’t enough to live on let alone feed their children. This poverty isn’t women’s fault. Our group is made up of very resilient women who have survived many horrors. But when they arrived in the UK they were treated cruelly. Even when women had suffered rape and other torture they were often disbelieved and turned down without a fair hearing.

This is the reason we are appealing for help so that in the upcoming season of Christmas and the school holidays, women especially mothers, will have some money in their hands so that they can warm their house and buy food and other essential needed items. We hear frequently of women who have to opt out of eating so they can feed their family. It is tragic that in this country a woman has to choose between feeding herself, feeding her child or buying essentials like sanitary towels.

Women are anxious to keep in touch with family and friends but don’t have money to travel, don’t have credit to call or even to get online. This human support is especially important given that we are not able to be together at the Women’s Centre because of the pandemic restrictions.

One example of how women and their children are affected by destitution is a mother in our group who was evicted from her housing in the middle of last winter by her local authority. Council workers tried to justify it but could not escape the accusation of terrible inhumanity. It was fortunate that a sister from our group stepped forward to help. That lady didn’t hesitate or worry about how small her own house was, how little food she and her children had, she just couldn’t bear the thought of a mother and young children being out on the streets.

This collective mutual aid means that our appeal is different from some of those run by big charities. We work together to distribute the money raised and Legal Action for Women takes nothing.

Finally, I would like to end on a high note. By donating to our group and helping ensure that women survive, you are also contributing to the mutual support we provide for each other. We work collectively to help ourselves and each other with our legal cases. We have had a number of successes. For example, one woman who escaped terrible homophobia in Uganda, saw her partner killed and her family threatened, just won her asylum claim. She can now begin to breathe again and live her life in safety.

It is for all this that we ask you to give as generously as you are able.

Sending you all warm wishes,

How to donate:

1.     Through Crossroads Women’s Christmas Asylum Appeal 2021. If you are a taxpayer the value of your donation is increased by 20% at no extra cost to yourself if you choose to add Gift Aid to your donation.

2.     Money transfer to Legal Action for Women, Unity Trust Bank, account number – 50728361, sort code – 60-83-01.  If donating online or direct into our account, we would appreciate an email to law@allwomencount.net to let us know. 

3.     By cheque, payable to Legal Action for Women – please specify that you are donating in response to the Christmas Appeal and post the cheque to: Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX.

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