A charity supporting asylum seekers has raised thousands of pounds so children of asylum seekers can go online to access schoolwork and learning materials as well as fun videos and games.

Asha North Staffordshire, in Shelton is distributing 50 tablets with an internet sim card to families without a TV or radio. During lockdown, these families have been completely cut-off from support and entirely on their own.

Godefroid Seminega, manager and founder of Asha, explained why the tablets are such a lifeline, “Families seeking asylum are already alone and isolated. They may have suffered unimaginable hardship before they arrived here, sent by the Home Office to Stoke, where they know no-one and have few, if any, resources to engage and occupy their children or themselves during lockdown. The tablets will give access to information about the pandemic, and children an opportunity to take part in virtual online social clubs, interact with their peers and engage in online learning. Members of Asha’s Well-Being team will be there to help them, as they have been since the beginning of lockdown through WhatsApp, text, and telephone.”

By using the tablets, parents will be able to call for food, book essential appointments, including medical and legal, and obtain emotional support from Asha’s staff and volunteers. 

Asha is indebted to individual donors, Severn Trent Community Fund and the East Midlands Railway Community Development Fund for meeting the cost of the tablets and to Aldi, Tesco and the food banks who regularly donate to Asha when they have surplus food. Little of this could happen without them.

Normally Asha organises community events to mark Refugee Week – which this year runs from 15 to 21 June 2020. This year Asha will be engaging through online activities under the heading of ‘Imagine’ and Asha’s Well-Being team will use the tablets to share stories, quizzes, pictures, and song for children.

There are nearly a thousand asylum seekers living in the Stoke-on-Trent. They have sought asylum to escape persecution because they have been targeted for their religion, their politics, their sexuality, or caste. Others have been trafficked as modern slaves. They live in temporary accommodation while their case for asylum is investigated. If successful, they gain refugee status. Until then they are not allowed to work and receive £37.75 a week for food, clothing, toiletries, and travel – Asha North Staffordshire.

Until lockdown, many attended Asha for English classes, advice and sign-posting, football, a mother and children’s club, food and clothing, and an opportunity chance to socialise and benefit from mutual support, some become Asha volunteers and others volunteer in the  community.

MAIN image – For Refugee Week 2020 children of asylum seekers in Stoke-on-Trent have been creating artwork on the theme Imagine. In the main image Eridjona is imagining a clean world and  is looking forward to learning more via the use of a Tablet.

Find Asha North Staffordshire on Facebook here.

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