Our first meeting of the new University term started earlier than usual, in order to give the speaker from the Northern Refugee Centre time to chat to us. Their own website is of course the best place to go for information, but summarised below is an outline of what we discussed.

For clarification, an asylum seeker is just that – a person seeking asylum. A refugee is a person who has sought, and then been granted, asylum – they have the right to remain in the country in which they have sought asylum.

  • In general, displaced women are at increased risk of harm compared to displaced men; this is due to- but not limited to – rape, trafficking, harmful and constraining traditional practices, abuses by persons in positions of authority, torture and abandonment.
  • Women coming to the UK are often unaware, or are not advised, that they can make their own claim of asylum. Many are instead considered to be a “dependant” of their husband, which can set up power imbalances.
  • Childcare is not provided at asylum determination interviews. It is at these interviews that the asylum seeker is expected to provide evidence as to their need for asylum – and mothers who have been forced to bring their children with them to the interview will often not want to reveal abuses that they have suffered.

The Northern Refugee Centre currently provides women-only conversation clubs around Sheffield. In their own words,

“Women’s Conversation Clubs are weekly groups for Refugee and Asylum Seeking women to come together with English-speaking volunteers in a safe, relaxed, women-only environment”

Although Sheffield Fems is not currently campaigning with the Northern Refugee Centre, we urge anybody with free time to take part in these clubs, as an easy way to make a difference.