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COLLECTIViSM #9, September 2016


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While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.

Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

Cover Image: ‘Keralam’ by Amie Babu The artwork, 'Keralam' is representative of Amie Babu’s own identity and journey from Kerala to England. Amie Babu has just completed her Masters in Design and Applied Arts. She is exhibiting in the University of Wolverhampton MA Show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (see Upcoming Events, pg 40).


CONTENTS #9, September 2016


The Editor


Inderjit Bhogal


Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary

# # #

Editorial Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary Refugee Week


Black Country and Birmingham


Refugees and new Migrants in Wolverhampton



Profiles of



Margaret Vaughan


Irene Ndifor

# #


18 # 19 #



The Refugee and Migrant Centre Aladdin’s Education Support Local Artists 01 Hope Community Project The Difference Hope Makes Year 3 and 6 pupils

St Peter and Paul's Primary School Louis Brennan

My trip to Calais with Care4Calais Supporting Women and Children

The Haven Wolverhampton

Dawit Woldu

25 ‘Home’

# #

Visit to Dawit Woldu's exhibition


Matthieu Lambert

26 Ashley Community Housing 27 Hope into Action: Black Country Paul Francis

28 Spoken Word at the Asylum

# #

Jonathon Sommerville


Faith Communities

30 Transforming Communities 31 Interfaith Wolverhampton Mia Singh

32 ‘Meet Me’: A tribute to Raif Bedawi


Red Cross & Arts Council England

33 The Long Road


Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary

34 How You Can Help # 36 Local Artists 02


Profiles of

Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary

38 My New Family



Collectivism is a community art magazine. Its intention has always been to showcase local art and community projects. When I was approached to devote our latest edition to Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary I didn't hesitate. The problems and challenges that asylum seekers and refugees face need to be highlighted and addressed. Similarly, the efforts of local organisations, charities, community groups, arts practitioners and dedicated volunteers involved in outreach and welcome initiatives should be documented and lauded.   Introducing the vision of Wolverhampton as a City of Sanctuary to a wider audience is important. We want to share the stories that may not otherwise be heard and bring to light the secret battles that asylum



seekers face. Our social events and exhibitions seek to challenge preconceived ideas about refugees and asylum seekers and offer opportunities for very different worlds to come together. The response from the artistic community in Wolverhampton has been crucial to our engagement with a wider audience. The artists profiled in this edition of Collectivism have all contributed to the cultural and social integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Wolverhampton. Another purpose of this edition is to convey our pride and passion in our city as a safe place of welcome and the ongoing need for such hospitality. We are however equipped to meet that need.


Image: ‘Shopkeeper’ by Komlaish Achall #



CiT Y OF Inderjit Bhogal

I love and value Wolverhampton, and have been associated with the City, and its welfare, for almost 50 years. I want to commend all those who are now working hard to build Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary. You are an inspiration.

Wolverhampton is a city enriched by people of different ethnicities, faiths, journeys, a place of meeting, mingling, encounter and engagement.

In the current circumstances your work is more urgent and important than ever, and will become more in the coming years. We are in the midst of a forced migration crisis of unprecedented proportions. The UNHCR Global Trends 2015 Report records that wars, conflicts and persecution have forced 65 million people, more people than at any other time since records began, to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere. 90% of the world’s refugees were from countries close to conflict. Huge numbers of people are dying en-route on sea or in deserts as they seek safety. Without safe and legal routes refugees turn to smugglers who have found a lucrative and scandalous illegal trade and make money out of other people’s plight. Britain is often said to be the number one target for people desperately seeking safety. However less that 1% of the world’s refugees make their way to Britain. Over 80% of the world’s refugees are in neighbouring countries. Currently Pakistan,

SANCTUARY Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are the world’s top five hosts of refugees according to the UN.

to ensuring a welcoming, hospitable environment in which all are valued, belong equally, and are safe from harm.

The situation is complex and requires a complex and united response locally, nationally, and internationally. European nations can do more. An urgent need is for safe and legal routes for refugees to travel as they seek protection and safety. The only long term solution is world peace. People want to live in their own countries in peace.

We can consider our own response personally also. We can strive to:

Local groups working with initiatives like City of Sanctuary show we can all do something. In Wolverhampton people of all political, ideological and faith backgrounds can work together and play their part to build cultures of welcome, hospitality sanctuary and safety for refugees. We can work together in interfaith collaboration, for example, to encourage each Church, Gurdwara, Mandir, Mosque, Synagogue and Vihara to support one refugee family until they can stand on their own feet. Each School can aim to be a School of Sanctuary. Wolverhampton University can be a University of Sanctuary. Businesses can commit themselves to the good practice of sanctuary. What does it mean to be work for sanctuary? It means you intentionally and structurally are committed

•• Be human, and call others to their humanity. Human beings should be treated as nothing less than that. Each life is sacred and matters •• Be hospitable, and call for this in others. Be a welcoming, hospitable and safe person to be with. Invite a refugee family to your home for a meal •• Challenge hatred. This means challenging inhuman and inhospitable behaviour and opinions formed by ill-informed information This is what it is to “love your neighbour as yourself”, and to “welcome the stranger as yourself”. Wolverhampton is a city enriched by people of different ethnicities, faiths, journeys, a place of meeting, mingling, encounter and engagement. It has a long history of being a place of growing together in relationships of mutual respect and trust – a brilliant multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city. It is a place of building bridges, not walls. You are a City of Sanctuary, showing pathways and a shining light for others. You can help to grow a groundswell of support for Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary...a City you can be proud to live in. 7




Meet and Mingle | Different Pasts, Shared Futures

Countering the social isolation that many asylum seekers and refugees face, and challenging preconceptions, Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary hold quarterly ‘Meet and Mingle’ events. The idea behind the social gatherings are to bring people together who would not ordinarily meet socially in a welcoming environment. June 2015 saw Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary celebrate Refugee Week in Wolverhampton for the first time. We combined the Meet and Mingle with an exhibition launch featuring the artworks of asylum seekers and refugees along side established Wolverhampton artists. The night was a great success in bringing communities together. An evening of celebrating our diversity and sharing the struggles and success stories of those new to our city. International food, music, national dress, impromptu dancing in the courtyard and one hundred and fifty in attendance made the atmosphere one of true welcome and celebration. The exhibition ‘Different Pasts, Shared Futures, 2015’ at the Light House was an important opportunity to humanize the labels of refugee and asylum seeker – providing insight into the perilous journeys suffered by refugees fleeing from war and percescution and allowing us to honour the

resilience and creativity of those who had fled their country to seek sanctuary. After the success of 2015 and with funding from Creative Black Country and Barrow Cadbury Trust we have been able to fund newly arrived artists and member led creative workshops for community groups. This work was exhibited at the Light House for Refugee Week 2016. Established Wolverhampton artists Nelson Douglas, Kom Achall, Michelle Sleigh, Deb Walters and Anna Smith have not only supported us through mentoring and workshops but have created unique works with other local and newly arrived artists to showcase their talents and commitment to making the culture of hospitality visible to all in ‘Different Pasts, Shared Futures, 2016’. Our programme extended in 2016 to incorporate a solo exhibition by Dawit Woldu and a spoken word event at the Asylum Gallery. This Summer’s ‘Meet and Mingle’ and exhibition launch in June was another well attended and lively gathering. People from all nationalities came together again to promote the vibrant unity and community apparent in Wolverhampton. Live art from Dead Pens Crew, live music with Kaliko Drumming added a real sense of festival to the night. For future events please follow us on FB and at wolverhampton.

Image: ‘Welcome’ by Komlaish Achall with the Petals women’s group from Hope Community Project. Suitcases and memory boxes, decorated with words of welcome from different countries #


THE REFUGEE & MiGRANT CENTRE Black Country and Birmingham

RMC operates a free drop-in face-to-face service covering Wolverhampton, the wider Black Country and Birmingham. We assist all members of new and emerging communities regardless of country of origin, ethnicity, legal status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability.

•• Destitution

We aim to contribute to:

RMC has developed a series of new projects with partners to support clients who are seeking asylum in Wolverhampton including:

•• an improvement in the quality of life of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants •• The settlement and integration of refugees and migrants living in the Black Country and Birmingham. Work with Asylum Seekers We offer free impartial advice and guidance on resolving issues around:

•• Immigration •• National Asylum Support Service issues •• Accessing health care •• Accessing education •• Family support

•• A community gardening project with Wildside Activity Centre •• ESOL classes in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton •• An arts project through Creative Health The service is offered in over 40 client languages and can also be accessed by refugees, European and other migrants and also offers employment, welfare and citizenship support. Please contact for more information.


ALADDiN’S EDUCATION SUPPORT for Refugees and new Migrants in Wolverhampton Based at the Park Village Tuition Centre in Cannock Rd, Park Village, WV10 0RA, we have been proactive in supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Wolverhampton in general, and specifically in the Low Hill, Park Village, Bushbury and Wednesfield areas. We have been involved in organising volunteering, ESOL tuition and development work by forming strong connections with local voluntary, religious and community organisations. We have an effective referral process to advisors that provide advice on Immigration, Benefits, Housing, Utilities and more. Our support team also offer advice and coordinate the Tuition Centre activities. Also providing guidance to vulnerable groups including victims of sexual and domestic violence; and those affected by FGM.

We have in particular acted as advocates for refugees and asylum seekers from Iraq Gambia and Sudan on issues pertaining to their rights to access health, housing, education and other services in the borough. We have experience in advising this group of clients into employment, training and volunteering opportunities. We are passionate about providing our clients with a safe, happy and friendly place where they make new friends and learn English. We have organised a number of social, cultural and festive events to help promote cohesion and facilitate communication between migrant communities and the wider Wolverhampton community, including a beaking of the Fast dinner and Eid Party. For further information: email: phone: 07507 380036 website:






Komlaish Achall

Komlaish Achall's artwork explores, the ambiguous, non-interpreted, triangle between being born a British Asian, being female and self. Using a variety of materials, photographic images and symbolic objects the work explores her personal perspective and journey. She frequently demonstrates contradictions through her artwork, highlighting conflict and harmony in contemporary Britain, emphasising the tensions between ethnicity, religion and political opinion. The undertones that direct her practice are cultural identity, cultural hybridization, diaspora, hierarchy systems, religion, domesticity and female Asian identity. With funding from Creative Black Country Kom and Michelle Sleigh developed a

collaborative arts piece with the Petals women’s group from Hope Community Project. 'Welcome' looked at the theme of acceptance and the associated loss and growth that comes from having to leave war torn countries or flee persecution with limited personal belongings. Suitcases and memory boxes were decorated with words of welcome from different countries, some filled with keepsakes whilst others had stark reminders of the realities of war and gender inequality. All were placed within a greenhouse to symbolise the transformative growth of asylum seekers and refugees uprooted and replanted in foreign lands. Komlaish is exhibiting at upcoming exhibitions at the Light House and Eagleworks Gallery in October.

Anna Smith Anna Smith is a local disability artist volunteering with Hope Community Project women’s group. The painting (pg 14) is inspired by the poem ‘Lessons In Drawing’ by renowned Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani and featured in the Different Pasts, Shared Futures 2016 exhibition as part of RefugeeWeek at the Lighthouse. Anna’s work is often a social commentary on different marginalised people and groups. Currently she works as a mentor

for the disability charity DASH offering free support and guidance for disabled artists through the Cultivate Project. She is also a member of Eagle Works Studio in Wolverhampton and has exhibited locally in and around the West Midlands. She will be exhibiting at the Light House as part of the upcoming exhibition Women in Art. The painting ‘Lessons in Drawing’ will be featured as part of an exhibition at the Eagleworks Gallery in October. See upcoming events (pg 40)

My son places his paint box in front of me and asks me to draw a bird


Into the color gray I dip the brush and

draw a

square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills

his eyes:

But this is a prison, Father,
Don’t you know,

how to draw a

And I tell him: ‘Son, forgive me.
I’ve shapes of birds.’

forgotten the 

My son puts the drawing book in front of

me and asks me to

draw a wheatstalk. I hold the pen and draw a

My son mocks

my ignorance,
demanding, ‘Don’t you know,

Father, the difference

between a wheatstalk and a gun?’
I tell him,

once I used

to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape

of the loaf the shape

of the rose But in this hardened time the trees of

the forest have joined

the militia men and the rose wears dull fatigues In this time of armed wheatstalks armed birds armed culture and armed religion you can’t buy a loaf without finding a gun inside you can’t pluck a rose in the field without its raising its thorns in your face you can’t buy a book that doesn’t explode between your fingers.’

 My son sits at the edge of my bed and asks me to recite a poem,
 A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
 My son licks it up, astonished, saying: ‘But this is a tear, father, not a poem!’
 And I tell him: ‘When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry you’ll discover that the word and the tear are twins and the Arabic poem is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers.’

My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
 front of me
 and asks me to draw a homeland

‘A Lesson In Drawing’ by revered Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)

for him.
 The brush trembles in my hands and I sink, weeping.

Image (following page): ‘Lessons in Drawing’ by Anna Smith – inspired by the above poem



Lessons in Drawing’


Over the past five years as volunteer co-ordinator at Hope Community Project I have seen how Hope as an organisation has benefitted from the contribution of volunteers who originally came to Hope seeking our services. Many coming to us for ESOL and joining the women’s group have then wanted to give back to Hope for our help and support over the years. Watching the confidence and sense of belonging develop is a rewarding part of my job and now their support of Hope as volunteers is crucial to our continued success in community outreach and support of the most marginalized. Our monthly lunch club for the over 50’s is dependent on reliable and hard working volunteers. Two women from China who attend ESOL and the Petals’ group volunteer in kitchen preparation and serving the elderly within our community.

We were helped significantly by a service user from Iran who originally came to us for ESOL. His professional background in computers was put to good use as he set up our website as well as volunteering his time to mentor another volunteer to improve her computer skills. It is with great pride to know that he has now successfully passed his first year at the University of Wolverhampton. An important part of our work at Hope is ‘door knocking’ where we go out on to the estate and knock on people’s doors trying to find the lost and forgotten in our community. It is this work that brought to our attention a young, pregnant and frightened asylum seeker. Now she is a university graduate of Wolverhampton and volunteers with us in delivering crucial outreach work within the community and supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Wolverhampton.



I was pregnant with two small children, living in isolation with no one to talk to. The fear of being deported, the emotional distress of my husband living in detention was overwhelming. My mental health was impacted and I was fearful for my life and the wellbeing of my children, On one lovely afternoon at lunch time, there was a knock at the door. It was Jenny and Sharon from Hope Community Project. I invited them in but was very sceptical because I thought they were police officers on an undercover mission. This particular visit changed my day and life forever. I felt so relieved after talking with them. This was simply because they listened, empathised, sympathised and encouraged me to remain positive. From the day of the initial visit, the support I received from the Hope Centre changed my life completely. I felt that the weight of my immigration problems was lifted off my shoulders and shared with the Hope workers. They offered me emotional, practical and material support.

The support I received did not only change my life completely, but it inspired me to undertake an education to gain skills and knowledge that will enable me to support others in the future. I enrolled at the Wolverhampton College to undertake Access to Social Work. My academic journey was successful as I graduated from the University of Wolverhampton as a qualified social worker. I worked with Families in Focus at Reentry, an alternative education provider for excluded children for six months. After the birth of my youngest daughter in 2015, I decided to return to Hope as a volunteer. This was to enable flexibility in parenting my daughter and keep my skills and knowledge updated.






Year 3 and 6 pupils from St Peter and Paul's Primary School looked at the idea of welcome ahead of Refugee Week 2016 in June of this year. Their heart-warming welcomes and pictures of how they would welcome and love newly arrived children in Wolverhampton were exhibited as part of 'Different Pasts, Shared Futures 2016' at the Light House. For local schools interested in becoming Schools of sanctuary more information can be found on

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT! Currently there are 157 REFUGEE CHILDREN living in Calais who have been identified as having family links in the UK. Care4Calais has teamed up with members of the National Union of Teachers to help

raise awareness and urge the government to act quickly. So far we have collected over 100 pictoral messages of support for the children in Calais from children in the UK to show that these children are welcome! Please get involved and show your support by: 1. Writing a message 2. Taking a photo 3. Posting it to Facebook, Instagram & Twitter 4. Tagging @Care4Calais and hashtag #Care4Calais.


MY TRIP TO CALAiS WITH CARE4CALAIS Louis Brennan (14) St. Peter's Collegiate School On Saturday June 18th, Louis Brennan, aged 14, joined with a coach load of adults from the West Midlands, in a national Convoy to Calais to express solidarity with the asylum seekers in the Jungle, the camp for 6,000+ refugees from war-torn countries seeking to cross the Channel to obtain sanctuary in Britain. Why did you decide to join the Convoy to Calais? I wanted to learn more about the situation in Calais, to become more aware of what’s happening there and why. Also to meet some of the children who are there. How did the day work out? We left from Birmingham at 6.30 a.m. The security situation in France meant that our planned visit to the Jungle was forbidden by the French and British police at the last moment. The main convoy from London was stopped in Dover and not allowed to cross the Channel to Calais. However, as our coach was ahead of the convoy, we did make it to Calais. Security around ‘the Jungle’ was very tight so we weren’t able to go there. Instead we went to the warehouse nearby where all the donations from the UK are carefully sorted by Care4Calais volunteers before they are distributed to the people in the camp. Any poor quality goods are set aside and returned to the UK.

Was it worth going? Although we didn’t go to the Camp, I learned a lot on the trip. At the rally, we heard from eight refugees, from different countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. Some were so grateful to us for coming over to support them; others were angry at the conditions they had to live in and the loss of their dignity as human beings. I learned how all of them had had their lives messed up because of war. It made me realise how lucky I am to have been born in the UK and how, but for the grace of God, I could have been one of the asylum seekers. What particularly struck you? The fact that the rest of the convoy had been stopped in Dover and how this reflected the sort of world we live in. Also the anger expressed by one of the asylum seekers – I could see why he was angry. Do you think the trip will make a difference to you? Yes. When I hear the news, I’ll understand things better and be more interested. I think it was a great privilege for me to have the opportunity of going on a trip like this at my age.

We then went on to a large site rented for the day where a big rally had been planned for all those coming over for the day. We got back to Birmingham at 2.a.m. 19



Supporting Women and Children Affected by Domestic Violence and Homelessness

VOLUNTEERING CASE STUDIES Linda is originally from Latvia and has been living in England for over 6 years with her young daughter. Her partner was controlling and manipulative. He had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Linda said that their relationship was toxic and that her partner had not only ruined her life, but his own as well. She knew she had to leave the relationship and contacted The Haven in 2011, Linda was given a room at a women’s refuge hostel. At first, Linda felt alone with no family or friends for support. Soon she realised that was not the case.



The only problem was the language barrier which forced Linda to stay in her room most of the time, until the residents started to come to her. Linda said they were very kind and supportive. They made her feel welcome and made her determined to turn her life around. Linda moved into her own property a few months later. She was very happy, but also apprehensive about leaving The Haven.



Linda knew that she had to change her life. Despite her lack of confidence and the

language barrier Linda started attending sessions at the Women’s Resource Centre and became a volunteer. Linda was scared of all the challenges ahead of her, but continued volunteering at The Haven Charity Shop. Over the course of a year, Linda’s confidence grew and her English improved immensely. Linda became a different woman, not afraid to face the challenges that lie ahead. By working at the charity shop Linda said that she and the other volunteers had created wonderful community feeling, where everybody could receive appropriate help, advice and guidance. A year later Linda became a sessional worker at The Haven Charity Shop and started training other retail volunteers. Today Linda has moved into full time employment. Hours Contributed: 1,250 hours Financial contribution: 9,000 The Haven has a dedicated volunteer service that has had many beneficial impacts on the community and wider society. Over the last year, we have had 99 volunteers, 9 University social work placements, 5 EVS (European Volunteers) and 5 trainee counsellors. In particular our European Volunteers have become an integral part of The Haven to support and implement the delivery of our front line services.

EVS’s wrote small funding applications and were successful in securing £500 each to run their own projects for 3/4 weeks during the spring, summer and Autumn months.



Sara has been running different art and craft and music workshops across all the

refuges in order to create a space for sharing emotions, feelings and empower their abilities and skills. Since April I have been running different workshops at The Haven’s refuges. Art in general is a way to express what we feel without the need of talking and helps you feel good inside and share that feeling with others around you. We can say that the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls as Picasso once said. Fighting every day with difficulties and issues, focusing on that alone, without any kind of activity or motivation, you can sink and see things blacker than they really are. Because of this I think that running these kind of activities are very beneficial for all the people. In the sessions we’ve done crafts - picture frames, masks for the children and decorations for our Haven events like the volunteer awards at the Light House. We’ve worked together on collages on the topic of motivations and expectations and painting on canvas with acrylics and watercolour. I am teaching the women to play the guitar as they are interested to learn. We are singing and putting together melodies for several songs, combining our different cultures and styles.

Sar a C as as, Eur opean volunt eer Sar a is ex hibi t ing and per f or ming at t he upc oming ‘Women in Art’ ex hibi t ion at t he L ig ht Hous e




Dawit Woldu

The photographic exhibition ‘Home’ was the work of Dawit Woldu supported by Neil David Roberts and Nelson Douglas as part of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary’s programme of events for Refugee Week 2016. Dawit, from Eritrea sought asylum in 2015. Unable to access education for the first six months of being in the UK Dawit came to Hope Community Project every week to attend free volunteer run ESOL classes. Upon gaining his leave to remain in the country Dawit was housed by HopeintoAction Black Country and is currently studying ESOL in the evenings at Wolverhampton Adult Education, learning to drive and working at Jaguar Land Rover. When we were awarded funding by Creative Black Country we began a mentoring programme for Dawit who had expressed a keen interest in photography. In September, professional photographer Neil David Roberts of Mental Images and Aspect Photography began weekly mentoring sessions with Dawit at Newhampton Arts Centre. Dawit became involved with the monthly photo cafe run by Neil at Newhampton Arts Centre. Nelson Douglas is an established lens based media artist. Nelson worked


closely with Dawit in photographing newly arrived, asylum seekers and refugees in Wolverhampton for the exhibition, ‘Home’ “It was a great opportunity to be mentored by experienced photographers like Neil and Nelson. They taught me different techniques and helped me to have better knowledge about the different usage of cameras. In June I had my first solo photography exhibition which has encouraged me to continue learning. Our relationship was like family rather than mentor and mentee. I would really like to thank them both for everything and Kate for introducing me to them.” ‘Home’ featured portraits of people who are making a new home for themselves in Wolverhampton, having left the homes of their childhood. It was an exhibition of welcome and an invitation to truly consider the lives and challenges of those who have had to leave their homeland behind. Wolverhampton City of Santuary would like to thank All Hands on Deck for deejaying at the exhibition launch. Also thanks to Ni Singh of The League of International Misfits for his acoustic set and guest vocalist Mia Singh who performed the song ‘Meet Me’ to highlight the plight of imprisoned Saudi journalist Raif Bedawi - see pg 32.


Conversations about home (at a deportation centre) Warsaw Shire 2012

Image: ‘Sidorella’ photographed by Dawit Woldu #


ASHLEY COMMUNiTY HOUSING Visit to Dawit Woldu's exhibition ‘HOME’ at the Asylum Art Gallery Ashley Community Housing, established in 2008, is an award-winning specialist housing and training provider with offices in Bristol and the West Midlands. Our mission is to support the settlement and resettlement needs of refugees, vulnerable homeless and other displaced people, to develop their independence, promote their positive contribution to the community and ease their integration into UK life.

from Eritrea who was mentored by Neil David Roberts of Mental Images as part of a photography course. He has proudly presented his talent and produced great photographs.

We left the office at 11.15 am to walk up to the Art Gallery together. When we arrived we were greeted by Kate Penman from City of Sanctuary, who has worked closely with Dawit (bottom centre) to create his In the Wolverhampton branch, every work. She gave a short talk about the art Tuesday from 11am to 1pm, we teach two gallery and the work displayed inside. We hours of English to Asylum Seekers and spent some time admiring the work and Refugees. But on this occasion there was discussing what it meant. The theme of the a different activity! As well as learning exhibition is ‘Home’. The learners enjoyed English, we believe that clients need to be seeing the photography of people from their provided with social inclusion activities. This home countries. allows them to understand local customs After some conversation with the artist and learn practical information to help them himself, Dawit, we then listened to some integrate faster into UK society. great Arabic poetry from one of our ACH Wolverhampton organised a day visit to learners, Mohammed Ali (bottom left). the Asylum Art Gallery which exhibited the What a great day! amazing work of photographer Dawit Woldu Please follow us on Twitter @ACHWolves (pg 25). Dawit is a refugee

HOPE INTO ACTiON: BLACK COUNTRY Matthieu Lambert Wolverhampton Executive Directory

Hope into Action: Black Country started out two years ago with the vision to house the homeless with love and began to provide homes for homeless people in Wolverhampton with the support of local churches. One of our partner churches asked us about the possibility of expanding to work with refugees so we looked into it to see what their situation was and how we could help. What we found out is that whilst they are still asylum seekers they are provided with accommodation and some spending money and looked after by the government in NASS accommodation. Once their claim has been decided and they have been granted five years leave to remain, they have twenty eight days to vacate the NASS accommodation and find somewhere else to live. This is particularly hard for single men who are a lower priority for housing. Many have no idea where to look and no money for a deposit so they have nowhere to go. They are at risk of sleeping rough or end up sofa surfing in the NASS accommodation of another asylum seeker. Even when they do find accommodation it may well be of a low standard, with overcrowding. They generally end up housed with other refugees speaking their native language and working night shifts or placed on precarious zero hour contracts.

We realised that we were in a unique position to help them with our trained support workers and the friendship and support teams of our partner churches. Together we wanted to provide greater opportunity for them to fulfil their potential and help social and cultural integration. Refugees have left behind their country, their families and their entire network of support to start afresh. We aim to rebuild a loving network of support around them. The practical support that we offer includes help around language barriers, understanding tenancies, bills, banking, education, employment and training. One of our tenants who has been with us for just under a year, is about to start at Wolverhampton University studying engineering and is looking to move into his own flat. Another tenant has successfully completed a training course driving forklift trucks and is now working for Jaguar Land Rover whilst continuing his studies in the evening and learning to drive. He's also had his own exhibition. We are very grateful for the engagement of the local churches in our vision to house the homeless with love and their crucial role in befriending and mentoring our refugee and other vulnerable tenants. We have a thanksgiving service at Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town on October 30 th at six o’clock and hope to see you there.



SPOKEN WORD AT THE ASYLUM 22.6.16 Paul Francis, poet and compere

We wannabe poets are prepared to travel for our art. There’s a West Midlands circuit now, where we go to pubs and cafes in Shrewsbury and Wellington, Ludlow and Kidderminster, Ironbridge and Wolverhampton but Asylum Art Gallery has an atmosphere all of its own. We knew that from February, when Emma Purshouse gathered a hotch-potch of poets on a freezing wet night for a stunning mix of poetic content and styles. But this night, June 22nd, was different. No solitary intellectuals rambling down the alley of their own thoughts – this was for, and about, refugees, and it all hung together. Not that it was all the same. There were local poets like Dave Pitt and Bones, and Steve Harrison, from Wellington, who’d written something specially for the evening. But there were also readings in Arabic and Farsi, poems from Syria, Iran and Kurdistan, and a rivetting performance of Warsan Shire’s Conversations about Home By April Hudson. Lots of poets have written about refugees. But it was a bonus to have Spoz, who’d volunteered in the Calais jungle, and Steph, who’d taught creative writing to refugees. That keynote of first-hand experience was struck from the start of the evening, with John Catley’s testimony to his own gradual transition, from unthinking prejudice to active involvement. Bad poetry readings ramble, repeat themselves, indulge readers at the expense of listeners. This was a powerful wellorganised evening, packed with interest, and eagerly followed by a various, attentive

audience who knew exactly what they were hearing. Both of those, the programme and the audience, owed a lot to the warmth and enthusiasm of Kate Penman, who put this all together. Those of us appalled by the open bigotry the Brexit vote has unleashed will need to do more than deplore it in silence. We’ll need to get together, celebrate what we care about, and make sure that our message is spelt out as strongly as we can. This memorable evening was a good start.



Bones Warrior Bible Excerpt from ‘Incomprehensible’

Image: Bones photographed by Komlaish Achall




TOGETHER Transforming Communities Together (www. is a partnership between Church Urban Fund and the Church of England locally. They work with churches and organisations across Wolverhampton and beyond to help local communities flourish so that people can enjoy life in all its fullness. They work alongside people by building capacity & resilience in communities to tackle poverty. One way they have been able to support Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary is by helping them access a Together Grant from Church Urban Fund ( uk/together-grants). This programme offers grants of up to ÂŁ5,000 for faithbased organisations to engage in social action, either for initiating or developing community work.

Transforming Communities Together are involved in a variety of work across Wolverhampton including budgeting workshops, Universal Credit Awareness and the Wolverhampton Poverty Truth Commission. One of their biggest pieces of work to date is helping people who are new to a community or people who feel lonely and isolated to a Place of Welcome. There are now 14 across the city, where anyone can go and get a free coffee and biscuit and start to connect, belong and contribute. These are in churches, mosques and community centres and are a great place to make friends. See for more information

Jonathon Sommerville Pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church I'm loving our partnership with Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary. Today, at the drop in centre we had 19 friends, some of them new. We gathered around to chat, share stories and build friendships.

arriving soon. I also met a lady from central Europe who was looking to improve her spoken English, and enjoyed a game of backgammon with my son, who beat me with the help from my Kurdish friend...

I heard the harrowing story of one young man's journey from a war-torn part of Afghanistan in search of peace and education, another man, similar age to me, who had to flee from Syria, and who was sharing his joy that his family will be

My own language skills were put to the test (and failed, badly...) with French-speakers from Ghana and Cameroon. A good few hours that week by week is proving to be a holy time.

INTERFAiTH WOLVERHAMPTON Interfaith Wolverhampton (IFW) was responsible for setting Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary on its journey. •• IFW called a meeting of interested parties in Wolverhampton in 2011. •• Inderjit Bhogal, who initiated the City of Sanctuary movement nationally and was responsible for establishing the first City of Sanctuary in Sheffield, had been Interfaith Wolverhampton’s Development Worker in the early ‘80’s. •• IFW has helped Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary maintain and develop its momentum through active continuing membership of the organising committee. The current Treasurer is the Secretary of IFW and, since Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary is not a charity, it has asked IFW to manage the £5,000 grant received from the Church Urban Fund to establish and develop the drop-in centre in the Church in Broad Street. •• IFW has established close links with a number of asylum seekers * One has helped IFW to develop and maintain its website and has been elected to IFW’s Board of management. * Another has helped IFW to update its filing system. * Another has shared her story of persecution because of her minority faith at IFW’s monthly Bring and Share lunches where individuals

share their faith experience in an intimate and respectful setting. * A number of IFW members from different faiths are closely involved with supporting and befriending asylum seekers. One member has been providing an asylum seeker with shelter and advice for several months. Established in 1974, IFW has been an active group longer than any other in the country. It seeks to promote understanding, tolerance and the respect of differing faith traditions and to help create a City where the rich diversity of faiths is celebrated and used for the common good of all City dwellers. Plans for the next three months include: •• a major Conference, in partnership with Compton Hospice and the University of Wolverhampton, on ‘Dying well’ with Baroness Finlay, Chair of the National Council for Palliative Care as the keynote speaker, with experts from other faiths adding their contributions. •• a series of talks on the Care of our planet by different faith leaders. •• monthly ‘Bring and Share’ lunches at which individuals speak of their journey of faith. Details of membership, events etc can be found on IFW’s website at uk or from IFW’s office at 24 School Street, WV1 4LF (01902-427601).



‘MEET ME’: A TRiBUTE TO RAIF BEDAWI Mia Singh (13) St. Edmund’s Academy

My dad’s song “Meet Me” has a very deep and powerful meaning about a Saudi Arabian journalist (Raif Badawi) who produced a liberal thoughts website, which also conveyed his faith. The website was very open and allowed people to be truthful about who they were and what their beliefs were about. This was brought to the government’s attention. As they are very intolerant in terms of human rights, they did not like the look of a liberal thoughts campaign, which allowed people to be open and to be able to speak their mind. Raif was sentenced to 1000 lashes for speaking his mind. Raif Badawi was arrested and taken out in public to be flogged. People gathered to watch the torture and punishment of his life. In the middle of the square people watched him being brutally lashed. He sadly lost consciousness after receiving fifty lashes so medical help came and supported him and no more lashes were made after that. The song’s lyrics are

about him leaving his family to defend his rights and reassuring his wife and children that they will soon be together again. The song says that they would “climb up to the higher ground and never ever come back down”. So, Raif is saying that after all this is over they would go together and leave the place they’re in, to have the life they’ve always dreamed of without any judgments. The lyrics “the time has come, the time to choose I tear myself in two” refers to the fact that it was now time to decide whether to stick by his beliefs or go with his family. The song says “use a pen to light a fuse” and in this case it meant that Raif through creativity and thought started a process of revolution, using no violence, but his pen as the strongest weapon. He is still waiting for more lashings, but he is medically unfit for this to happen. He has been detained in prison for seven years. As of now he has been in the prison for just over four years and soon just maybe, he can be with his family again.


THE LONG ROAD (VARIOUS ARTiSTS) Red Cross & Arts Council England

Ok so this is an offering from the Red Cross & Arts Council England and a group of fantastically eclectic artists that span the globe. Created in response, and to raise awareness around the plight of refugees and a humanitarian crisis that is unfolding before our eyes. Now, I confess that I am a little sceptical where it comes to ‘good cause music’. Sadly, this is honed for years as a musician seeking to create music that is relevant to wide audiences and I have seen that the good cause label can be equally as detrimental as it is positive when seeking to create credible product. However, lets put my baggage aside. Delve deep and this is a collection of songs that is emotive and has strength and context. Created with the musical and life experiences of refugees from a variety of countries. Of course, Robert Plant’s added weight is a huge bonus but other artists such as the nomadic Tinariwen and Scroobius Pip make this a strong offering that is rich with lyrical content and beautiful musical textures.

The Plant track is synonymous with what we know Robert Plant to be immersed in; global flavours, melodies and grooves. Scroobius Pip’s collaboration with Didier, a refugee singer, is a lyrical warning for those with a willingness to expand their musical and cultural horizons. The infectious reggae chops of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars will warm even the most cynical heart. The ambience and chilled out topology of the Kindness leaves us (as the last track of the EP) within a serene meditative state. This album succeeds as a body of work that showcases the talents of some diverse and eclectic artists. Using concise sleeve notes, The Long Road is an effective piece of musical education and this is a testament of the production team. All money raised from the album will go directly to the British Red Cross refugee services here in the U.K. For further information go to: Ni Singh



Robert Plant #


HOW YOU CAN HELP Membership of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary includes current and former asylum seekers, agencies working with asylum seekers and refugees, representatives of local community and faith organisations, and individuals supporting our aims. Many people ask us how they can help. Here are a few ways in which you can help Wolverhampton authentically become a City of Sanctuary. Our latest project is the newly opened weekly drop in centre at Broad Street Church.

•• Could you volunteer at the RMC or help provide teaching resources? •• You can help in other ways by joining the Refugee Action campaign #Let Them Learn and write letters to your local MPs. •• Does your business have free storage space that Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary could use to store donations? •• Are you able to contribute to RMC’s destitution fund? Or provide for young mothers struggling on limited income? •• Can your church partner with a Hope into Action: Black Country property housing refugees?

•• Would you be willing to volunteer at the Drop in Centre?

•• Can you sponsor a refugee through university?

•• Or contribute to its running costs? We are currently discussing the possibility of offering hot food during the winter months and again we are dependent upon financial contributions and volunteers.

•• Can you fundraise so we can effectively meet the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised?

Lea Fanara (Ashley Community Housing) has been working on a welcome pack for all NASS accommodation ensuring asylum seekers have crucial information and can access free ESOL classes and find places of welcome and support within our city. •• Would you be willing to contribute to the costs of the welcome pack? •• Do you have information pertinent to the welcome pack or are you willing to help distribute the pack upon completion? Did you know that for the first six months in the country asylum seekers can’t access college and therefore are reliant on charities that offer free ESOL? The Refugee and Migrant Centre are looking for volunteer ESOL tutors. •• Are you a qualified teacher?

•• Provide work placements, offer laptops to refugees embarking on degrees?

HOW-Humans of Wolverhampton and Howling Wolves Community Choir have raised significant funds for destitute asylum seekers.Follow them on FB to support their fundraising efforts. •• Are you willing to offer time to volunteer at RMC as a befriender? •• Can you attend and promote Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary’s ‘Meet and Mingle’ events as we combat the social isolation that many asylum seekers face? •• Can you buy a Christmas present for children of asylum seekers? The smallest donation will still go far as we combine our time, talents and commitment to ensuring Wolverhampton is a City of Sanctuary for all. #RefugeesWelcome Please do follow us on Twitter and FB and

sign up to our quarterly newsletter. We issue wish lists when we are in need of specific items for asylum seekers and refugees. Our website is:

Meet our Chair Alvine Noumey is a former asylum seeker and detainee at one of England’s detention centres. Since receiving her leave to remain in the country she has set up the Migrant Empowerment Group. The organisation is a community interest initiative seeking to bring migrant

classes at Moat Lane East Community Centre, Wednesfield every Monday and Saturday 1-4. MEG has been supported by Wolverhampton Homes, by local Church funding and community groups. Alvine organises Christmas parties open to everyone and community groups like HOW - Humans of Wolverhampton have helped to provide food and Christmas presents for children of asylum seekers. She is tireless in her desire to bring people together, advocating on behalf of social housing, running informal classes and organising community events. She believes passionately in the culture of hospitality. Alvine is organising another Christmas party at the community centre in Wednesfield on 16th December from 6-8pm.

communities together, promote social cohesion and build confidence through social and learning activities. As well as running MEG, studying Health Studies at the University of Wolverhampton she is also chair of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary. Alvine currently runs ESOL and sewing #




Image: ‘Hope’ created by Michelle and the Petals’ group photographed by Nelson Douglas


Nelson Douglas

Nelson Douglas is an established artist in lens-based media, focusing on digital film format and traditional photographic practice. He also works as a narrative and documentary filmmaker. Philosophically Nelson is committed to the pursuit of genuine equality of opportunity that has informed all of his work over twenty years or more. In both form and content his work and approach is motivated by a desire to enhance the accessibility to resources and opportunities for all people particularly disadvantaged groups.

Nelson and Kate were responsible for launching RefugeeWeek in Wolverhampton in 2015 and establishing a credible arts forum for asylum seekers, refugees, community groups and established artists to exhibit collaboratively. He is currently working on projects documenting the refugee and migrant communities in Wolverhampton and facilitating access to the arts with Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary, funded by Creative Black Country

Michelle Sleigh Michelle Sleigh studied Fine Art at the University of Wolverhampton graduating this year. Her interests are collaborative, community and participatory art. Her influences are Swiss artist, Thomas Hirschhorn and Japanese artist, Koki Tonaka. In her second year of her degree Michelle had a placement at Hope Community Project as artist in residence with the Petals’ women’s group. (A diverse group of women from all over the world) Michelle’s commitment and artistic vision within the group saw Michelle continue to lead the group after her residency was finished. She played a pivotal role in the exhibitions

‘Different Pasts, Shared Futures’ and led community collaborative pieces exhibited in both exhibitions for RefugeeWeek 2015 and 2016 see image of tapestry titled ‘Hope’ (pg 37) created by Michelle and the Petals’ group for the 2015 exhibition. Michelle led workshops for Hope Community Project over the Summer, and is currently running children’s workshops at Acorns Children’s Hospital. She will be running a workshop at the upcoming Fun Palace Wolverhampton at Newhampton Arts Centre – a free family day of arts and science events organised by the community. Michelle will be exhibiting at the Light House exhibition, ‘Women in Art’.


Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary I was seven and a half months pregnant when they picked me up in London to take me to my new home. They said you are going to the West Midlands, Wolverhampton, near Birmingham. I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t know anybody there. I was scared. I thought I am going to have my baby alone. I tried to find a group that I could join but couldn’t find any. I felt very isolated and afraid. I didn’t have any money for the bus so keeping hospital appointments was difficult. I just had a voucher card. I was crying a lot and in a lot of pain. I phoned my friend crying at the Refugee Council who contacted City of Sanctuary. When Rosemary from Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary called and said she wanted to help me I couldn’t believe it. Somebody was coming to see me and help me, it was like Christmas. When the door knocked and I saw John Catley who said my name - I was scared. I thought it was immigration. He

had a box of chocolates for me and some money and I thought ‘Who does this? I really couldn’t believe it.’ I can’t tell you how much they helped. Rosemary, Erika, Sharon and John. They helped me get clothes for the baby and Sharon helped me prepare my stuff for the hospital. Really they were like my family. When I was in hospital to have my baby it wasn’t easy. Sharon was with me, she was my birth partner. She called the doctor because she was watching the monitor and said things weren’t right. I had to have an emergency caesarian. I don’t know what would have happened if Sharon wasn’t with me. Maybe my baby would have died. Now I volunteer at the drop in at Broad Street Church. I know what it is like to feel all alone and scared. I volunteer and study Hospitality Management. My daughter is beautiful and she has a big family in Wolverhampton.

Sharon Derso I am involved with the work of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary. Perhaps an exceptional case is my relationship as a retired midwife with K. We are family now. Our relationship lies at the very core of the City of Sanctuary vision. K was alone in a new city with no support network at an incredibly vulnerable time in her life. We were able to offer her crucial support. It is wonderful to watch K confidently volunteering at the Drop in whilst studying and looking after her daughter.

I co-ordinate the volunteers for the Drop in Centre and it is great to see the volunteers creating a real place of welcome for asylum seekers and refugees in the city. Hearing the guests ask if we are open the next day so they can practice their English, play cards, enjoy a cup of tea is incredibly rewarding. The Drop in Centre is open every Wednesday from 12.30-2.30 and staffed wholly by volunteers. If people would like to volunteer please do get in touch at

UPCOMiNG EVENTS Art | Dance | Music | Theatre

Sorry! No Coloureds, No Irish, No Dogs Tuesday 18th October at 7.30pm ARENA THEATRE, WULFRUNA ST, WOLVERHAMPTON WV1 1SE This year, Gazebo brings back one of its most powerful plays - an exploration of racism and migration, in response to events taking place across the UK and internationally. Two strangers find themselves in a room of suitcases, books and stories which take them on a journey of discovery, reflection and tragedy, and bring the events of hundreds of years gone before bang up to date. Featuring, amongst others, Mary Seacole, Walter Tull, Black Panther- Obi Egbuna, Mary Prince, Olaudah Equiano and William, who sailed aboard the SS Empire Windrush, this play is ‘eye opening’, ‘thought provoking’ and set to stimulate discussion.


Pamela Cole Hudson Artistic Director Gazebo Theatre



UPCOMiNG EVENTS UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON MA SHOW Saturday 1st October – Sunday 9th October, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street FUN PALACE WOLVERHAMPTON. Sunday 2nd October, 12.00-7.00pm, Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street Newhampton Arts Centre is hosting the first Fun Palace in Wolverhampton. This will be a free event for all ages in the community. It’s a national campaign for culture and creativity to be at the heart of community. The theme is ‘Everyone an artist, everyone a scientist.‘ With workshops run by local artists and community groups. WOMEN IN ART EXHIBITION Monday October 3rd, 6.00 -10.30pm, Light House Media Centre, Fryer Street ‘AND THE BEAT GOES ON’ Friday 7th October, 6.00-9.00pm Wolverhampton Graduate exhibition at Eagleworks Gallery and Asylum Gallery. Viewing by appointment until the 14th October. ALL HANDS ON DECK : VINYL NIGHT. First Friday of every month, 8.30pm till late, The Hungry Bistro, Lichfield Street Second Friday of every month, 8.30pm till late, Light House Media Centre, Fryer Street WALK ONE MILLION STEPS – RAISE AWARENESS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE. Saturday 8th October, 10.30 start from Molineux stadium A fundraising community walk, £3 entry – Children free CREATIVE MONDAY Monday 17th October, 6.30-8.30pm, Wild Bytes Café, Darlington Street Monthly networking event for artists and creative businesses. HOPE INTO ACTION:BLACK COUNTRY THANKSGIVING SERVICE Sunday 30 th October 6.00pm, Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town WOLVERHAMPTON CITY OF SANCTUARY ‘MEET AND MINGLE’ Saturday 19th November 7.00-9.00pm, The Church on Broad Street MIGRANT EMPOWERMET GROUP’S CHRISTMAS PARTY 16 th December 6.00-8.00pm, Moat Lane East, Community Centre, Wednesfield

Collectivism #09 City of Sanctuary Edition