Team Legal Action for Women Asylum Fund’s story
Urgent Christmas appeal for destitute women and children
As Christmas and the school holidays are almost here, Crossroads Women is again asking supporters to kindly donate to Legal Action for Women's annual Christmas appeal for destitute women and children in the All African Women's Group (AAWG) -- the self-help group of women asylum seekers based at our Crossroads Women’s Centre. About two-thirds of women in the AAWG have been in detention and many of them are mothers; some are lesbian women. Each year we have been able to ensure that women have some money in their hands to cover essentials over the holiday period when they are without the usual support including food and second hand clothes that the Centre provides.
We appreciate that the people approached for help often don’t have much themselves and are always amazed at the generosity, lovely comments and good wishes we receive.
Last year people as a result of this generosity, 50 women received a one-off payment of approximately £50 with which they were able to buy food and other essentials. The funds raised were distributed in consultation with women attending AAWG meetings, a third of whom are destitute without any income. Many are suffering from physical and mental health problems from rape and other torture that they suffered.
Like millions of people in this country women are dependent on food banks throughout the year. Some women are on National Asylum Support but can barely survive on the weekly allowance of £37. Some are living in terrible slum housing with abusive landlords who take advantage of their vulnerable position. Mothers are particularly desperate. Having a little cash in their hands means that women get some respite from dependency and the grinding worry of how they are going to survive the day or week.
Women who are fighting for asylum knowing that their lives would be in danger if they were sent back are able to get help and support with their cases too. Using Legal Action Women's Self -Help Asylum Guide, women take part in weekly work sessions with Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape benefiting from their long experience to work on their own and each other’s cases. This includes taking calls from women in detention. All are encouraged and strengthened by the collective work at the Women's Centre.
Women also speak at public events about the often hidden situation of women seeking asylum. With the climate crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds, AAWG women have been speaking as farmers and as mothers, the primary carers in every society, who do the work of ensuring that people are fed, and who have been evicted or seen their land destroyed by environmental devastation.
This year the Group has had more lovely victories including a young woman from Albania who was at risk of honour killing if returned to her home country - she won her case after nine years. Yet even having won their cases may not be the end of the struggle - some women are fighting for housing years after winning their status and many are still fighting to be reunited with children they were forced to leave behind when they fled.
The goal is to raise at least £2000 to ensure that the women who regularly attend AAWG’s monthly self-help meetings get a small cash payment over the Christmas period. Anything you can give, no matter how small, will help.
If you would like to donate non-perishable food, toiletries or other essential items, these would also be very much appreciated. They can be delivered any day before 19 December to the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX Tel: 020 7482 2496.
More information from: Legal Action for Women, c/o Crossroads Women's Centre above, [email protected]