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

Coronavirus Guidance for Asylum-Seeking Communities in the UK


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




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