Build the Future - training retreat in Manchester for refugee women

15 refugee and asylum-seeking women came together in Manchester for 3 days of intensive training on research skills, working with Parliament, storytelling and communicating for change. Together we are laying the foundations for our new campaign against the destitution that many women face as they go through the asylum process.

Women joined the retreat from Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) ManchesterCoventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG), Women in Hope (Birmingham), Eagle's Wing (Bury) and Women for Refugee Women (London).

The Home Office unlawfully detained trafficked Chinese woman for almost 6 months

The Home Office has conceded that they unlawfully detained a highly vulnerable Chinese woman who is a survivor of trafficking. Women for Refugee Women visited this Chinese woman in Yarl’s Wood and referred her to Shalini Patel at Duncan Lewis solicitors, who has now worked with Garden Court Chambers to ensure that the Home Office has now conceded that her detention was unlawful.

Sarah Cope, research officer at Women for Refugee Women, said: ‘When I visited this woman in Yarl’s Wood, it was obvious to me that she should never have been locked up, such was the appalling state of her mental and physical health. There are many more women in detention who have been trafficked and sexually exploited, and who are being locked up indefinitely by the Home Office.’

Natasha Walter, director of Women for Refugee Women, said: ‘This case exposes how vulnerable women are being harmed by current Home Office practice. It is crystal clear that many women who are being locked up in Yarl’s Wood are victims of trafficking, including forced prostitution, and yet instead of following its own rules to protect victims, the Home Office is subjecting them to detention and threats of deportation. It is shocking and heartrending that this is happening in the UK. Change needs to happen, fast.’

Women for Refugee Women Cross Party Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Calls to End Indefinite Detention

Cross-party Parliamentary committee on human rights calls to end indefinite detention

The Joint Committee on Human Rights today published their review into immigration detention which supports our calls for an end to indefinite detention and better safeguards to ensure that vulnerable people are not detained.

They made five proposals to reform the immigration detention system:

  1. The decision to detain should not be made by the Home Office but should be made independently.
  2. Introduce a 28 day time limit to end the trauma of indefinite detention.
  3. Detainees should have better and more consistent access to legal aid to challenge their detention.
  4. More needs to be done identify vulnerable individuals and treat them appropriately.
  5. The Home Office should improve the oversight and assurance mechanism in the immigration detention estate to ensure that any ill-treatment of abuse is found out immediately and action is taken.

Read the full report here.

Women for Refugee Women Latest News Marchu Girma Promoted to Deputy Director

Marchu Girma is promoted to Deputy Director

We are delighted to announce that Marchu Girma has been promoted to the role of Deputy Director to help lead Women for Refugee Women forward as we develop and grow into 2019 and beyond!

Marchu has been working for us for over ten years and has enabled Women for Refugee Women to support the empowerment of a large network of refugee and asylum-seeking women in London and working with other grassroots organisations nationally.

Marchu will be working closely with the Director to set the strategy and direction for Women for Refugee Women, to ensure that the organisation is rooted in the experiences of refugee women and to take responsibility for ensuring that grassroots operations and office functions run smoothly.

Women for Refugee Women Latest News Everyday Sexism Twitter Account

Three women who have been detained in Yarl's Wood take over the Everyday Sexism Project Twitter account

5 years ago we started our Set Her Free campaign against the detention of asylum-seeking women. We are concerned that the issue is being brushed under the carpet while attention is on Brexit so we decided to take to social media to make sure that the voices of women who have been detained could be heard.

Three women spoke out about their experiences – Mariam, who was detained for 2 weeks; Agnes who was detained for 3 months and Mary who is currently locked up in Yarl’s Wood. The women received a huge amount of support from Everyday Sexism’s fantastic community! The Twitter takeover was covered in the media by BBC World Service, Bedford Independent and the Canary.

You can read the Twitter threads here:

Women for Refugee Women’s introduction to the issue of detention:

Mariam’s story:

Anges’ story:

Mary’s story:

Women for Refugee Women Latest News Refugee Women Visit the National Portrait Gallery with Caroline Walker

Refugee women visit the National Portrait Gallery with artist Caroline Walker

Six refugee women joined us to visit the Njideka Akunyili Crosby exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Nigerian artist who migrated to the USA. The themes of culture and identity that she explores in her work resonated with the refugee women in our network, some of whom felt inspired to start creating their own art.

We are grateful to the artist Caroline Walker for organising this trip and introducing Crosby's artwork to the women in our network. Trips like this are an important part of making refugee women feel welcome and introducing them to free spaces that they can access within London.

Women for Refugee Women Chinese Women Trafficked to UK failed by Home Office

Trafficked Chinese women locked up in Yarl's Wood

This Autumn, we have been supporting a number of highly vulnerable Chinese women who have been trafficked to the UK and locked up indefinitely in Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

This week, we worked with the Guardian on an article exposing their plight and the failures of the Home Office.

Our director Natasha Walter says,

“These women are extremely vulnerable and many have survived terrible violence and are still in fear of their traffickers. The Home Office is clearly failing to follow its own policies regarding victims of trafficking and gender-based violence by locking up these women for long periods and trying to deport them, without proper mental or physical healthcare or decent legal advice.”

Women for Refugee Women Christmas Party for 200 refugee women in our network

Christmas party for 200 refugee women in our network

Today we held a Christmas party for almost 200 women in our network! It was a day of celebration and joy, with performances from women who had developed their skills with us this year.

Thank you to everyone who so generously donated beauty products and coats this year. Because of you, every woman who attended left with a treat to help her feel valued.

Women for Refugee Women News Latest News Visiting the Museum of London

Visiting the Museum of London

Our wonderful Intermediate English teachers Helen and Irene organised a trip for 8 refugee and asylum-seeking women to the Museum of London.

The women enjoyed learning about the history of London, including watching videos of the Suffragettes.