Supporting asylum seekers and refugees with Asha
There are approximately 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees living across Stoke-on-Trent, having been sent by the Home Office to live in temporary housing here. Pre-lockdown, they would attend a community centre in Shelton, run by the charity Asha, accessing support and a chance to socialise. Now all this has stopped.
Asha staff have been keeping in touch with people via phone, but language can be a barrier. If asylum seekers do have internet access, it is often on limited data via the phone. Children cannot always keep up with schoolwork because they have no internet. Many do not have a TV, so they are left sitting in rooms, day after day, with little to do. The accommodation is not always of good standard with people sharing a communal kitchen and bathroom so more chance of cross-infection.
Volunteers, including our member Jackie, drop off food to people and run a foodbank every Thursday morning. They try to encourage the residents to go out and take exercise, but many are worried about catching coronavirus (many being BAME so more at risk) or are fearful of breaking a lockdown law and getting into trouble with the police.
At the moment, the residents desperately need bicycles to help them get around the city and also to exercise. Asha has a talented team who can mend and fix bikes to give out to people on a waiting list. If you can donate an old bike please email Asha.
Thanks to Jackie, Women’s Wellbeing Worker at Asha, for this update.