Women Asylum Seekers Together Banner. Wednesday 24th. March. Manchester

I travelled to Manchester yesterday to attend an event organised by “Women Asylum Seekers Together” (WAST).
 
 There were about 200 people there. We watched a play called “How I became an Asylum Seeker” by Lydia Besong and attended a workshop afterwards. As you can see from the WAST website, the High Court has recently ordered that Lydia is not be removed from the U.K. 
 
I’m not content with writing a single blog post about this event – there is so much to say about it and I need to order my thoughts – wait for more photographs – and sort my papers out. I’m aware that lots of people reading this blog might appreciate having this information quickly though – so I’ve decided to do a whole series of reflective posts about the organisation involved, about the play, what we talked about and how I think it relates to the events of the past six weeks at Yarl’s Wood and my previous posts.
The event was billed as awareness-raising and a professional and reflective development opportunity. I’m going to kick off in this first blog post of the series with some background about the organisation: “Women Asylum Seekers Together”.
 
Women Asylum Seekers Together was “founded in 2005 following the initiative of “failed” asylum seeking women whose applications for asylum had come to the end of their legal process and who faced potential deportation.
  
This group of women came from diverse backgrounds. Some belonged to poor families back home while others came from a more privileged background, some had never been to school, while others had received university education, some were still in their teens while others were already grandmothers. They spoke a number of different languages and belonged to a number of African and Asian countries.
  
Their reasons for fleeing their countries were as varied too. The list was long and bleak. Domestic violence, rape, political affiliation, the threat of honour killing, forced marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, sexual orientation e.t.c
  
But what had brought these women together was the fact that they had all been persecuted in their own countries, often because they were women in societies that did not accept the rights of women, their governments and in most cases their own families had not been willing or able to offer them protection and they had not received the protection and the support they had come searching for in the U.K.” (WAST).