Learning English with SASS

by Elif Erdem, Volunteer Editor

The SASS ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) Classes Project aims to provide learners with essential language skills through covering areas such as grammar, reading, speaking, listening and punctuation to be able to properly communicate in English. The Project is reaching 40 people each week. SASS is running 8 classes at the moment, two at beginner level, two intermediate, and three at advanced level. There is also one group especially made for women. 

There will be some exciting developments soon. A new advanced group will be starting, and 2 new volunteer teachers are about to join the team. Currently, there are 8 volunteer teachers, who meet every Friday to discuss what they can do more for learners, to share their teaching experiences, and to find solutions to any issues they face together.

A snapshot from the ESOL teaching team, February 2021

We spoke to some of the learners about their experiences. Lily, an advanced level learner said: ‘Their classes are really good. I mean the teacher George is really a real gentleman, approachable and supportive. I wanna say thanks for their help.’ In the same class, a Syrian learner agreed: ‘The classes are a space for learning, meeting friends and improving our English. The teachers are really helpful and cooperative, devoting much of their time to answering our questions.’ An intermediate level learner from Turkey said, ‘the teacher is well-prepared for classes and really experienced about teaching skills, arrange his speech according to our level and we can easily understand the classes.” Kristina from Russia expressed her thanks: ‘I’d like to say a big thanks to SASS and especially to George the teacher for English classes they provide. It’s a big pleasure to meet our group every week. These lessons not only improve my English but also help me to overcome the isolation. Thank you.” These are sentiments echoed by Yonatan and many others.

Asylum Accommodation in Swansea: Support #CloseTheBarracks with SHARE Tawe

by Ibrahim Badawi and Margie Cheesman, volunteer editors

SHARE Tawe: Addressing major challenges with asylum accommodation in Wales

Social justice campaigners have recently been calling for the UK Home Office to end the use of army barracks to house asylum seekers. The #CloseTheBarracks campaign recognises military camps, such as Penally camp in Carmarthenshire, as unsafe and inhumane living conditions for asylum seekers and refugees. Hundreds of people have been forced to live in Penally camp, where there have been allegations of ‘cover-ups, poor access to healthcare and legal advice, and crowded conditions.’ From today, 22nd March 2021, there will be a ‘phased exit’ from Penally camp, following much campaigning, legal action, and an inspection by government authorities. 

Despite this win for social justice in Wales, the quality and availability of asylum accommodation continues to be a critical issue. Sourcing adequate housing for people in need is a major ongoing challenge. In Swansea, the SHARE Tawe Project has been doing positive and inspiring work to address this challenge.

Swansea’s SHARE Tawe Project

SHARE Tawe provides a warm place to stay for homeless asylum seekers who have lost their accommodation. The project connects people with local hosts in Swansea.

Mr Alan Thomas, who gave the project its unique name said: ‘”Share” refers to people being prepared to share their homes. It is a two-way thing, because the local hosts often gain a lot in terms of friendship and understanding as a result of getting to know someone from another country. “Tawe” is the Welsh name of the river that flows through Swansea and connects the community. The Welsh name for Swansea is “Abertawe” (where “Aber” means “mouth of”).’

SHARE Tawe was started as a small project by a subgroup of City of Sanctuary, with several aims. The most important aim is “To offer hospitality, in the form of accommodation, meals, welcome and solidarity to destitute asylum seekers in Swansea. The project goals cannot be done without volunteers who offer a room in their home, or who support the scheme in other ways.” SHARE Tawe has been running for over ten years, and for the last four or five it has been run by SASS, which says that its ultimate goal is “to provide sufficient support and security to enable people to focus on gaining the right to stay in the UK”.

15-20 people on average have benefitted each year, for both shorter and longer periods, and there are 6-10 people in hosted accommodation at any one time. 5-6 people have been hosted throughout the lockdown.

Despite the major challenges and unknowns surrounding Home Office policy and the closing of military camps as accommodation, volunteers are optimistic to see the continuing positive impact of the project in the Swansea community. Please click here for more information and to support the SHARE Tawe, and join our workshops on Wednesday 24th & 30th March to learn more:

Women refugees chronicle COVID experiences in a creative research project

by Margie Cheesman, volunteer editor

The Open University (OU) is marking International Women’s Day with a social media campaign to ‘cut through the global chatter’ and focus attention on the perspectives of women asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the UK and beyond.

Many of these perspectives come from women based in Swansea.

The OU’s digital ethnography project COVID-19 Chronicles has created a ‘living archive’ of stories, artwork, videos, and testimonies from marginalised groups navigating the pandemic.

Without partnerships with grassroots organisations like SASS, this work would not be possible. SASS has been a key partner in facilitating the research, and Swansea-based refugees and asylum seekers are a core part of the research team.

The SASS ‘telephone tree’ – a supportive network of people and phones – has not only mitigated disconnection, isolation, destitution, and material need in Swansea. Through the COVID-19 Chronicles project, the telephone tree has also provided a safe way for people to voice their experiences in this extraordinary historical moment.

The OU has also worked closely with SASS sister projects, Swansea Women’s Group, Share Tawe, and Swansea City of Sanctuary.

Check out Share Tawe’s Facebook page for information about International Women’s Day activities. If you are interested in contributing to this research, please get in touch.

‘They let us go and we hugged each other tighter’. Picture by Afghani refugee and feminist activist Sweeta Durrani for International Women’s Day.

SASS on International Women’s Day

by Elif Erdem, Volunteer Editor

Today is International Women’s Day, one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements in social, political, economic and cultural spheres. As an organisation which always supports women in society, SASS wants to share women’s perspectives, especially those coming from asylum-seeking backgrounds. It’s important to raise awareness about women’s equality issues, as well as women’s talents, skills, and successes. In this post, we are sharing the story of Busra who has recently set up her own Etsy shop for embroidery designs. 

“I am a refugee here in the UK. I arrived with my family of 4 in July 2020 and we stayed at a hotel in London for 5 months. I was feeling very bored during our stay in the hotel room because I am a kindergarten teacher and a very active person. During this time I decided to do something about cross stitch and embroidery, which was my hobby a long time ago. l started to cross stitch when I was 15. I really like it since it takes my stress away and makes me relax. Firstly, I decided to improve my hobby and learned new things. Then I had courage and decided to sell what I made. I set up an online Etsy shop for myself. I believe I can easily handle it even if I do not speak English well. Because we can do anything if we really want. Just a little will, hardwork and courage will make it.”

Busra, Swansea
Busra’s cross-stitch design prepared especially for International Women’s Day

There’s lots going on in Swansea for International Women’s Day with asylum seekers and refugees. Find out more at Project Share Tawe’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/ProjectShareTawe  #choosetochallenge

Corona-virus Guidance for Asylum-Seeking Communities in the UK.

COVID-image-200313-2

This guidance is based on the government’s updated advice and health information for migrant and asylum-seeking communities in the UK.

  1. Covid-19 Guidance – Albanian 13.03.2020
  2. Covid-19 Guidance – Amharic 13.03.2020
  3. COVID-19-Guidance-ARABIC
  4. Covid-19 Guidance – Bengali 13.03.2020
  5. Covid-19 Guidance – Dari 13.03.2020
  6. Covid-19 Guidance – English 13.03.2020
  7. Covid-19 Guidance – Farsi 13.03.2020
  8. Covid-19 Guidance – French 13.03.2020
  9. Covid-19 Guidance – Hindi 13.03.2020
  10. Covid-19 Guidance – Kurdish Sorani 13.03.2020
  11. COVID-19-Guidance-Kurdish Kurmanji
  12. Covid-19 Guidance – Mandarin 13.03.2020
  13. Covid-19 Guidance – Pashto 13.03.2020
  14. Covid-19 Guidance – Portugese 13.03.2020
  15. Covid-19 Guidance – Somali 13.03.2020
  16. Covid-19 Guidance – Spanish 13.03.2020
  17. Covid-19 Guidance – Tigrinya 13.03.2020
  18. Covid-19 Guidance – Turkish 13.03.2020
  19. Covid-19 Guidance – Urdu 13.03.2020
  20. Covid-19 Guidance – Vietnamese 13.03.2020

Ways to contact Migrant Help

 

 

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Ways to contact Migrant Help

  1. The First Response Centre phone line 0808 8010 503
  2. Webchat (https://ellis.custhelp.com/app/chat/chat_launch)
  3. Email / Ask a Question (https://ellis.custhelp.com/app/ask/session)
  4. Self-service portal (https://ellis.custhelp.com/app/utils/login_form)

If you have reported an urgent issue to Migrant Help but have not received a response, you can escalate the issue to a manager:

  1. For issue reporting which covers maintenance, requests for assistance, problems with payments, lost aspen cards and complaints please try our email / ask a question or live chat using the links in point 2 and 3.

If you do not have the facility to use this then please email the escalations inbox below.

  1. escalations@migranthelpuk.org for cases that need escalating to a manager for the following: asylum payment issues, section 98 ‘S98’ and section 4 ‘S4’ (please also see point 7), negative move. Please also use for the following that have not been submitted to the Home Office – section 95 ‘S95’, change of circumstance applications ‘COCs’ and additional support applications.
  2. S98@migranthelpuk.org – for requested evidence relating to S98 applications. As a temporary measure you can request an urgent call back for S98 IA and S4 applications if you are unable to get through by phone.
  3. Submissions@migranthelpuk.org – for communications relating to section 95, section 4, COCs that have been submitted to the Home Office.
  4. outreach@migranthelpuk.org – to request assistance from Migrant Helps outreach team for service users who have specific needs, are at risk or unable to use the above methods.
  5. ASCorrespondence@migranthelpuk.org – to be used for all communications relating to asylum support including supporting documents for support applications such as S95, S4 and COC’s.
  6. positivemoveon@migranthelpuk.org – to report / raise issues with our positive move on service. This can also be used to request reinstatement for BRP / Discontinuation letters not received following a positive decision on the service users asylum case.
  7. To raise a formal complaint about Migrant Help, our subcontractors, the accommodation providers and the Home Office please contact us using the below:
  8. https://www.migranthelpuk.org/forms/complaint-form-1

 

Music from Everywhere, for Everyone! SASS Fundraiser

Friday 25th October – 9:30pm till late

A wonderful event planned by local supporters to raise much-needed funds for Swansea Asylum Seekers Support. A fantastic opportunity to dance the night away to funk, soul dub and reggae from around the world. Entry is £5 on the door (free to asylum seekers)

global

SASS is a community of Swansea people, including refugees and asylum seekers. They are “Newcomers and Locals United”.

  • Think of any country in the news because of war, persecution, and chaos. Survivors are here in Swansea. We welcome them.
  • For nearly 20 years, SASS has helped uprooted people find sanctuary, peace, and start a new life in Swansea. The need keeps growing.
  • They have 100 volunteers help out at their friendly drop-ins or give destitute asylum seekers temporary homes.
  • They link with all the different projects which also welcome asylum seekers in and around Swansea.

Please support SASS – Keep Swansea welcoming!

Let’s Dance! Fundraising event for SASS

sassdance

Join us 12th October for a 70s/80s night fundraising for Swansea Asylum Seekers Support Group

 

About this Event

Remember the 70s/80s?

Join us Saturday 12th October

Let’s Dance

7.30pm – til late

Swansea Dockers Club, St Thomas, SA1 8BT

Tickets £10 – asylum seekers free.

All proceeds go to Swansea Asylum Seekers Support Group

 

For tickets email sandra.richards@assembly.wales or ring on 01792 460836

or use Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lets-dance-tickets-69983611867

 

SWANSEA ASYLUM SEEKERS SUPPORT

  • SASS is a community of Swansea people, including refugees and asylum seekers. They are “Newcomers and Locals United”.
  • Think of any country in the news because of war, persecution, and chaos. Survivors are here in Swansea. We welcome them.
  • For nearly 20 years, SASS has helped uprooted people find sanctuary, peace, and start a new life in Swansea. The need keeps growing.
  • They have 100 volunteers help out at their friendly drop-ins or give destitute asylum seekers temporary homes.
  • They link with all the different projects which also welcome asylum seekers in and around Swansea.
  • Please support SASS – Keep Swansea welcoming!

If you can’t make the fundraising event but would like to donate to SASS instead I have attached the details on how you can donate.

Thank you for your support!

Julie

Julie James AM for Swansea West

Sandra.richards@assembly.wales

Telephone number: 01792 460836

Cardiff Bay: 0300 200 7137

www.juliejamesam.co.uk

1st Floor

11 Wind Street

SWANSEA

SA1 1DP