Women for Refugee Women is seeking a freelance consultant in communications

Women for Refugee Women is seeking a freelance consultant in communications.

WRW is starting an exciting new strategic communications project.

We are planning to carry out research on how we can change attitudes among our key audiences, in order to step up our communications work at this challenging time, to build more support for asylum-seeking women.

Before we get started, we want to look at where we are now and what we already know.

So we are commissioning a freelance consultant to carry out a literature review on existing knowledge about how to improve public support for progressive narratives in women's rights, migration and anti-racism.

We would also like this consultant to carry out a workshop with our team, to lay out this existing knowledge and its practical implications for our work.

If you would be interested in carrying out this literature review and this workshop, please take a look at the brief for the work and how to apply.

We'd like to hear from you by the end of July.

Please email samantha@refugeewomen.co.uk or natasha@refugeewomen.co.uk if you have any questions.

 

 

 


Women for Refugee Women and Refugee Women Connect are recruiting a freelance evaluator

Women for Refugee Women and Refugee Women Connect are looking for a freelance evaluator.

Power Up! is a three-year project funded by Comic Relief and delivered by Women for Refugee Women (London) and Refugee Women Connect (Liverpool).

The project is aimed at developing the capacity of asylum-seeking and refugee women in the UK to advocate on gender-based violence and the need for a fairer asylum process, building a movement of women with lived experience that can connect with decision makers in order to effect change. The ambition of the project can be broken down into three core elements:

Empowerment: Increasing confidence and agency through activities that include rights and entitlements workshops and building skills in advocacy, research and campaigning;

Influence: Supporting advocates to raise awareness and influence positive narrative change through research and awareness raising in the media and online;

Change: Connecting asylum-seeking and refugee women with those in positions of power to effect positive change in the asylum system.

The main activities of the funded project include:

  • Sisters Not Strangers Coalition – UK-based network of organisations and groups supporting asylum-seeking and refugee women. Together we campaign against hostile asylum policies. See more.
  • Refugee Women Connect Advocacy Group – Expert by Experience group based in the North West involved in advocacy and influencing, peer research and training for other lived experience advocates.
  • London Forum – a group of asylum-seeking and refugee women promoting advocacy and wellbeing, based in London.

As the second year of the project comes to an end in August, we are looking for an experienced evaluator to speak with members of the three above-mentioned groups, as well as with staff and volunteers from both organisations, in order to measure our success and feed into our Year 2 report.

Aims of the evaluation

  • To assess the effectiveness of the Power Up funded work over the specified period against the outputs and outcomes set out in the project proposal to Comic Relief.
  • To consider outcomes and outputs using Comic Relief’s power framework, assessing changes in; agency of individuals, power of movement, narrative power and institutional power
  • To assess successes and challenges, making recommendations about how these should shape the final year of the funded project.

Key deliverables (outputs) and budget:

  1. To submit a written evaluation report by 15th September 2021, ready to feed into our Year 3 grant reporting.
  2. To make recommendations, based on findings, for the design of the final year project delivery, including a participatory evaluation led by the women themselves.
  3. To present findings and recommendations of the interim evaluation to asylum-seeking and refugee women who have contributed to it, in a format accessible to them.
  4. The proposed budget is £2,000.

Timescale

  • Tender deadline Monday 19th July.
  • Shortlisting Tuesday 20th July.
  • Interviews Friday 23rd July.

Interim evaluation report for the period September 2019-August 2021 to be submitted by Wednesday 15th September 2021.

Interim evaluation report for the period September 2019-August 2021 to be submitted by Wednesday 15th September 2021.

Person Specification

We are looking for someone with the following experience:

Essential:

  • Extensive experience of monitoring and evaluation
  • Understanding of the UK’s asylum system and the impact of hostile environment policies
  • Experience of working collaboratively with women who have experienced multiple intersecting vulnerabilities

Desirable:

  • Lived experience of seeking asylum or of migration
  • An understanding of campaigns and movement-building
  • An understanding of power frameworks and outcome harvesting

Recruitment

Please submit a CV, a cover letter explaining how you meet the person specification, and an outline of how you would approach the brief (including key milestones and perceived challenges) to joinus@refugeewomen.co.uk.

Interviews will take place on 23th July 2021 for immediate start.

 

Women for Refugee Women Logo

 


Rainbow Sisters social media Takeover - Pride 2021

To mark Pride 2021, Rainbow Sisters, our support group for LGBT+ women and non-binary individuals, have planned a takeover of Women for Refugee Women's social media!

Make sure you're following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see what they get up to!

Who are we?

In Rainbow Sisters, we have a professional netball player, a microbiologist, a makeup artist, a singer, an accountant and so many more diverse skills and talents.

CeeCee, one of our members, is a phenomenal make-up artist! Here's her special look for pride. Check out more of her amazing work on TikTok.

 

 

Rainbow Sisters helps us love who we are.

Pride makes us feel recognised. When we can march together, we feel love from the crowd. It's a time to be yourself, without judgement.

But Pride isn't perfect. The fact that we need a Black Pride shows how Black people have been marginalised from Pride. We mustn't forget that Pride started as a protest by a black trans woman: Marsha P. Johnson.

The Home Office makes it extremely difficult for LGBT+ people to find safety here in the UK. All we are asking for is a chance to have a fair hearing and to rebuild our lives in safety.

"The Home Office assumes you are lying. When you go to them, it is not to share your story, it is to defend yourself, because they've already decided you are lying. They have to start seeing us as people."

As Rainbow Sisters, we just want to be us! You can support us by donating here.

And finally, we are proud to be...

We hope you enjoyed our takeover!


Volunteer Week: "I volunteer...to be part of a political movement for refugee women"

by Katie, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

Volunteers are people who take on unpaid work because they have a deep belief about service and what they are meant to do with their lives. And they keep doing it even if it is difficult or heart-breaking. And there are rewards.

One of the biggest rewards for me has been the connections with other volunteers: the other women who do check-in calls to women in our network.  The volunteers in other organisations that I liaise with who make sure food and nappies and clothes get delivered. The volunteers who teach English, knitting, writing and lullabies- a shout out to Mariam, Sandra, Jane, Helen, Stephanie and Hilkka-Liisa. We share how we are affected by the women we support and think together how we can support them better.

Being able to enrol one of the women I support in a class was a delight, added to later by hearing how much they were getting out of it.

I volunteer for Women for Refugee Women in order to be part of a political movement for refugee women. So, to the women in our network who volunteer to develop and promote the wider political work, I salute you.


This week is Volunteers’ Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer’s reflections, read the rest of this series here.


Volunteer Week: "The organisation inspires me"

by Sandra, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

My experience of volunteering with WRW is many-layered and the organisation inspires me on many levels.

When I first started to call the women in the group I was allocated at the beginning of the second lockdown, I thought it would simply involve a friendly ear every couple of weeks.  As the months pass by and my involvement with the lives of individual women in a range of situations, some distressed, some in pain, some resigned and others just getting on with life, this meant much more to me and to them, I think.

Often, I can offer support through WRW, referrals or just talk through thorny issues as one human to another. Sometimes I can feel helpless or even guilty, and this is one area in which WRW are so impressive - not only are they committed to giving the women from refugee backgrounds a voice, they also listen to the volunteers' anxieties and concerns.  Not only through regular team meetings and one-to-one calls with our Co-ordinator, but also by offering us sessions with a professional psychologist and zoom space just for the volunteers.

WRW also listens to our suggestions and has supported me in setting up a Radical Knitting session for those women who want to learn.  The experience of seeing the pride of six women who can now knit is joyous! The sessions are chaotic and full of laughter.

Finally, through the other volunteers and my own reflections on my experience, I am continuing on a journey of my own self-development, signing up for a module in working with people from refugee backgrounds and workshops on shame resilience and transformation skills. The continuing evolution of WRW, its self-awareness and willingness to listen and respond is laudable.


This week is Volunteers’ Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer’s reflections, read the rest of this series here.


Volunteer Week: "Seven years later, I am still here, and I still love it"

by Helen, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

I had my first hip replacement in 2014 and, knowing that my normal busy life would have to be restricted for a few months, I emailed everyone I knew and asked them for suggestions about how to use this time most productively.

The long list that came back was amazing – random, creative, off-the-wall, serious... I can't remember which of the ideas I did take up, except for one – a friend who was volunteering at WAST suggested that if I could make my way down to Old Street (one bus journey away), I might be of any general help...  So I did and met some of the other volunteers and workers and some of the women coming to drop-in classes.  I immediately loved the atmosphere and it soon became obvious the best use of my skills would be to help with the English classes (I'd been a teacher of English in a French secondary school for several years).

And seven years later (seven?? how can that be already?), I am still here, and I still love it (although obviously it's going to be much better when we can do face-to-face classes again).

I love the contact with the wide range of amazing women are involved in the project.  The students never fail to amaze me with their resilience, warmth and commitment and I love to see them growing in confidence. The other volunteers and staff members are welcoming, efficient, and committed.  I really enjoy the intellectual challenge of designing classes that are appropriate for such a wide range of experiences and skill levels, that are challenging and interesting as well as informative. And there's no greater thrill than when a student comes out with an expression or correct grammatical construction that we studied maybe weeks earlier.

I feel so privileged to have had this opportunity to be involved with WAST  - thank you to everyone involved.


This week is Volunteers’ Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer’s reflections, read the rest of this series here.


Volunteer Week: "I hope that lending a hand continues to be an important part of everyone's lives"

by Enez, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

I started volunteering with Women for Refugee Women in January 2020. I was in my final year of my undergraduate degree in Social Sciences and feeling exasperated with the discourse surrounding immigration, race and sexism. Instead of languishing in my hopelessness, I decided I wanted to become involved in a community that was actively celebrating the work that refugee women are doing to change narratives and campaign for better rights. That’s when I started helping facilitate the ‘mothers and toddlers’ group. Every Monday morning for an hour or so we would sing, dance and play with the mothers and children who enthusiastically joined in to the endless repetitions of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. But then March came around and everything changed. As we transitioned to on-the-phone support, it was hard to imagine that the hugs, laughs and dancing we shared were only weeks in the past. But still, over the phone I got to know many women in the network that I had never previously met. We still laugh and talk – without seeing each other's smiles – and speak fondly of the day we will be able to meet and hug again.

Volunteering with Women for Refugee Women has been an important part of my life for the past year and a half. At moments where I felt more disconnected from my communities than ever before, I still had a network of women that I never lost touch with. I have also come to know my fellow volunteers better from my computer screen. Meeting weekly, then fortnightly, on zoom for the past year; I look forward to hearing about their lives and working together to try and help someone in the network. We have also had important conversations about positionality, boundaries and our role as volunteers. These are ongoing concerns which were further brought to light by the pandemic, as well as conversations about race and lived experience. They are not always easy conversations to have, but they are certainly important ones which have been incredibly impactful on the way we provide support as volunteers.

I hope that the sense of community which has been absolutely vital over the past year won’t disappear. I know that Women for Refugee Women has been, and will continue to, empower and foster its growing community. But, I have also seen the critical role of the mutual aid groups and food banks which popped up to support those worst affected by the pandemic. I hope that lending a hand continues being an important part of everyone's lives and that we continue to build communities of care.


This week is Volunteers’ Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer’s reflections, read the rest of this series here.


Volunteer Week: "I want to be part of that!"

by Liane, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

One day, a few years ago, I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work that complimented the nature of the participatory photography projects that I run. My projects are about empowerment, self-representation, creativity and working together towards a shared outcome.

Women for Refugee Women is the embodiment of this way of working.

They use creativity to empower and give voice to the extraordinary women in their network.

Together, they work towards and accomplish real change in a hostile political system.

Yes please, I want to be part of that!

So I have had the privilege of volunteering with them since 2019.

Pre-pandemic, I helped with their Monday drop-in centre, where over 200 women would attend classes and various other activities throughout the day.

It was a joyful experience, full of love, chaos, positive energy and connection. And an abundance of humour.

I loved it.

Once Covid hit, the remarkable staff at WRW had to adapt quickly, and the role of the volunteers changed dramatically.

We were each given a list of women to make supportive weekly calls to in order to stay connected.

Two amazing things then happened.

Firstly, the volunteers (alongside the stupendous grassroots coordinator, Viki) became a team. Together we tapped into the whole world of charities, such as food and baby banks, sharing information in order to help accommodate the needs of the women we were calling. It has been a real team effort, and I have felt completely supported by this exceptional group of women volunteers.

Secondly, it has been a profound experience making strong and meaningful connections with many of the women from the network that I’ve been speaking so frequently with over the past year. I feel honoured that many have shared their difficult stories with me. I have also felt uplifted by their personal breakthroughs and successes. There is a real sense of mutual respect alongside sharing a good laugh, a few tears, and a lot of hope.

I could not have asked for a better volunteer experience.

 


This week is Volunteers' Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer's reflections, read the rest of this series here.


Local leaders and public figures unite to oppose the new detention centre for women in County Durham

Today, 12 May 2021, over 200 MPs, councillors, faith leaders, people who have sought asylum, charity and community group leaders, health workers, academics and university staff, and public figures raised or based in the North East of England write to the Home Secretary to express concerns about the proposed new immigration detention centre for women at Hassockfield in County Durham.

Signatories include Mary Foy, MP for the City of Durham; Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead; Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow; Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields; Jamie Driscoll, Mayor, North of Tyne Combined Authority; Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys; Peter Flannery, playwright and scriptwriter for Our Friends in the North; Umme Imam, executive director of the Angelou Centre; Michael Fawole, centre director of the North East Law Centre; Julian Prior, CEO of the Action Foundation; Rabbi Sybil Sheridan of the Newcastle Reform Synagogue; Father Adrian Tucker, vicar of Caritas Hexham and Newcastle; Professors Cheryl McEwan, John Nash and Catherine Donovan, Heads of Department at Durham University; and many more influential leaders.

The letter outlines serious concerns about the plans to open a new immigration detention centre for women:

  • Research has shown that the majority of women who are locked up in immigration detention are survivors of serious human rights abuses, including torture, rape and trafficking. Detention is deeply re-traumatising and harmful, and women’s immigration cases can be more effectively and humanely resolved within the community. The Government has previously committed to reduce its use of immigration detention, and so these new plans represent a concerning change of direction.
  • The site of this new detention centre (the former Medomsley Detention Centre site) has a disturbing history of abuse. During the 1970s and 80s, hundreds of young men were physically and sexually abused by members of staff while held there. Durham Police’s investigation into the abuse, Operation Seabrook, is ongoing, and to date over 1,800 men have come forward to give evidence. The reopening of the site is also likely to have a traumatising impact on those previously abused there.
  • Local people have been disregarded in the development of these new plans. The site had previously been earmarked for new homes, yet without any local consultation, these plans have now been cancelled.

The letter was coordinated by Women for Refugee Women, No To Hassockfield, the Durham People’s Assembly, Abolish Detention - Hassockfield and students from Durham University.

Agnes Tanoh, who was herself detained at Yarl’s Wood before being granted refugee status and who is now detention campaign spokesperson at Women for Refugee Women, says:

“I claimed asylum here because I was being persecuted in my country and I thought I would be killed. Instead of finding safety, I was locked up at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre for 3 months in 2012. Now, the government has agreed that I should stay in this country, and I have refugee status, but I still struggle with the emotional impact of being locked up in the UK when I most needed protection. I know how detention destroys a woman. Women become depressed and suicidal in detention. I don’t want to see this happen to any of my sisters who are looking for safety.”

Mary Kelly Foy, MP for the City of Durham, says:

“This detention centre will allow the Government to effectively imprison 80 vulnerable women at a site with an appalling history of abuse, despite genuine alternatives to detention existing.

Rather than seeking to extend their hostile environment policy to a small community hundreds of miles away from Westminster, the Government should focus on creating an asylum system that treats people with the compassion and care that they both need and deserve. This starts with scrapping the plans for this abhorrent detention centre.”

Severin Baker, final year Geography student at Durham University who coordinated a separate letter to Mary Foy MP in opposition to the new detention centre (with fellow-student Rachel Cope-Thompson) that was signed by over 1,600 students and staff, says: 

“The plans to open the Hassockfield Detention Centre have prompted a strong reaction across Durham University, with 1,600 students, over 100 members of staff, and the Vice Chancellor signalling their opposition. This University-wide mobilisation epitomises the local discontent for a regressive and egregious development designed to dehumanise and harm women who are seeking asylum in the UK”

Peter Flannery, scriptwriter of Our Friends in the North, says:

"We should welcome, support and protect refugee women, not seek to detain them. So we do not need to build more detention centres. Let's display, and be proud of, our common humanity.”

Owain Gardner, Organiser of The No To Hassockfield Campaign, says: 

“The human rights and mental health implications of the site being re-used for detention are enormous, not least because of its horrendous past. The choice of Hassockfield for the proposed Removal Centre is insidious, because of the lack of access to legal representation - County Durham has one of the lowest number of suitably qualified Lawyers in the UK. So we will redouble our efforts to ensure that this Immigration Removal Centre does not open. No one is illegal!” 

Mollie Brown, chair of the Durham People’s Assembly, says:

“Durham People’s Assembly are opposed to this detention centre for two reasons. Firstly, the immorality of incarcerating people who are looking for safety and secondly because of the horrendous history associated with the site dating back to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and the impact this still has on the community. Whilst we welcome good jobs in the community, we strongly refute the claim that the detention centre will provide this. The types of companies that the government are contracting to run and maintain the site have a history of poor working conditions and exploitative practices for both employees and people who are detained. Good jobs do not come off the back of cruel and inhumane detention.”

A spokesperson for Abolish Detention - Hassockfield says: 

“We strongly oppose the plans to build a new detention centre, especially on a site with a horrific history of abuse. The detention centre entails renewed violence, abuse and mistreatment for migrant women. Its construction is yet another part of the government’s cruel immigration policy that continues to cause senseless and needless suffering. This must end.

No one is illegal. Migration is not a crime.”

 


Women seeking asylum respond to the consultation on the government's new plan for immigration

Refugee and asylum-seeking women in our London network share their responses to the government's harmful new plan for immigration.

The deadline for submitting a personal response to the consultation is 11.45pm tonight (6 May 2021). It is so important that we all use our voices to amplify the concerns of women seeking asylum. We have produced a simple guide to support you to target your response to highlight why these plans are so dangerous for women. You can download the guide here.

Please help us to amplify these women's responses - these are the women who know what needs to change in the asylum process because they have lived it.


'O' says:

"I have been here for 3 years trying to put my life together and having only temporary protection would not be helpful at all. It would be very bad for my mental health. How can I progress in my education and career if I have no access to resources?"

'E' says:

"I am so worried about the effects this plan will have on women. It will lead to mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety. There are many women who have children and will be affected by this new immigration bill in the sense that, they will be stressed for their future and those of their kids. Many migrant women or asylum seekers or refugees have been abused in their home countries. So sending them back will put them in danger.

The government is a racist political body that doesn't care about asylum seekers. It is treating asylum seekers as if they are not humans. Trying to bring back a fast track which was deemed inhumane is absolutely insane. Opening more detention centres, old army barracks or wanting to send asylum seekers to isolated islands is not fair especially during this covid crisis.

The government should instead figure out how they can create safer routes for people who need to claim asylum to enter the country. No one will choose to be locked in the back of a lorry or to take a boat to enter Britain if they have any other choice. It is very risky to take a lorry and seek asylum, you should not say that people who come on a lorry are not ‘genuine’ asylum seekers.

I don’t know if The Home Office are human anymore. They are bringing back inhumane policies, things that have been so hard won are being lost."

'C' says:

"If you have a reason to be protected once under temporary protection, then that should be enough proof and reason to protect you for life. It is such a relief to know that you are protected for life and that you can start to make plans for the future without having to prove yourself over and over again. How can you make plans if you can’t see a future? You end up staying in the same place mentally."

'S' says:

"They might as well be ending the asylum system completely."

'V' says:

"It is very concerning for mental issues that women go through. I’ve been in this country 7 years. After you have tried to survive in your country, but have had to escape to find protection and security, after you’ve fled from torture, then you come here to live another kind of torture. A torture which is much more sophisticated, as it is not physical, but mental torture. The laws and the Home Office make it impossible to escape. You will never heal but you will always be punished, and threatened, and asked to go back. The waiting process makes your depression worse, you are stuck in a dark place. They don’t treat men and women who seek asylum as human beings. It will exacerbate mental health issues for women but especially single mothers and their children."

'P' says:

"If the new bill goes through it will affect women more."

'D' says:

"I’ve been to detention twice; I’m a single mother with 3 kids. My children give me hope, but if I can’t put in a fresh asylum claim, what can I do? I had a bad lawyer to start with -  I wanted certain information included in my case, but my lawyer chose to omit it, and as a direct result of this, my claim was rejected."

'M' says:

"I am particularly worried about children if we can never get permanent settlement.

Children need to be able to feel safe, and part of society. They are our future. It is not fair to treat some children so differently because we had to seek asylum. I came here to find a safe place for me and my children. Also, it is actually bad for society if some children are always treated as outsiders. This is very destructive.

Also as a woman I needed time to make my case. They say you need evidence, but the problem is that even by trying to get evidence you make yourself unsafe. By reaching out to the people back home to ask for this, they know where you are, you feel vulnerable.  So this takes time, you need to feel safe first."

 


Update: You can read Women for Refugee Women's full response to the sham-consultation on this government's proposed new plan for immigration here.