Yes! I’ve decided to award myself the badge. Because what, after all, is the point of claiming to be the ruler of all you survey, if you can’t even have a badge to prove it?

Anyway, this post will be sticky until 22nd March. Any new posts will remain underneath it until I decide to un-sticky it.

We’re looking for toys to give to the Northern Refugee Centre, because they are lovely. More importantly, although they are lovely and run womens’ conversation clubs that we thoroughly approve of, they don’t have any toys to entertain children with. And, as you can imagine, there will be some women who’d like to come along, but don’t feel they can converse with a small child pulling at their ear because they’re bored.

So, we’re helping out. We’re looking for clean, safe, sensible toys. If you have any spare, they might as well be donated to the Refugee Centre as to Oxfam, or wherever else you might send them to. We’re happy to collect, within reason, and you can get hold of us either by using the email addresses provided on the contact page, or by calling Jude directly on 01142 660434.

In the “toys we’d like” list:

  • books for all ages – cardboard books for young children would be nice, as would any bilingual books of any kind.
  • building blocks, stackable buckets, big “shape” puzzles, big dumper/ tipper trucks and other “construction” type toys
  • “tea party” style sets (or even single items), as long as they’re not so small they can be choked on – so plastic cups, plates, fake tins of food etc are fine, utensils are probably best avoided

In the “toys we can’t take” list:

  • any kind of war-related items. Please don’t give guns, swords, tanks, action men etc.
  • cuddly toys. They’re lovely, but are not the most washable of items.
  • battery-operated or noisy toys.
  • toys with lots of small parts. We have to assume that there will be toddlers around, so please don’t give anything that might be eaten!
  • pens, crayons, pencils etc. Guaranteed, somebody will draw on the walls.

Obviously, these are just suggestions. Feel free to give anything you think might be appropriate. If we, with the Northern Refugee Centre, decide that, on balance, we can’t take what’s been given, it will be donated to the nearest charity shop. One way or another, we’ll find good homes for the toys. Happy donating, everybody!

Million Women Rise: Please contact us by Saturday at the latest if you are interested in a group booking for the megabus down to London for MWR. The plan at the moment is the 6.50 bus down and the 4.30 bus back, which at the moment will cost about £20. If you going down anyway let us know and we’ll arrange a place to meet as well.

Toy collection for Northern Refugee Centre: If you have any unwanted, but in good condition toys that you would like to donate please let us know by 22nd March. either email in or call Jude on 01142 660434. Ideally we are looking for toys for all ages, that are easy to keep clean and appropraite (ie no guns or anything violent), items such as jigsaws and puzzles are especially welcome!

We are currently investigating a couple of venues that might be more suitable in terms of disabled access, but, as usual, any suggestions are always welcome.

A reminder about Women in Black, 7th march, the War Memorial 1-2pm, wear black. The focus for this month will be on Africa. Jude will be telling us more about this event next week.

There is a protest on Friday (27th) at 3.45 against the proposed station barriers, starting at the city hall moving down to the station. Details here.

Good news… WH Smith have apparently stopped selling Playboy stuff! At the moment it’s all on sale, and we hear that they won’t be replacing the stock. However, Superdrug and Argos are still selling it so we will still be campaigning against it! 28th March will be a day of action on this. (Planning for this will be 17th March, and both the meeting and the day of action are open to everybody.)

Sexism in Universities. We are looking for speakers, if you are interested or know of someone who may be, let us know. It looks likely this event will be either 13th or 20th of May, we should be able to confirm this next week.

Jude talked to us about Women In Black which is a international network of women campaigning for peace.
Women In Black Sheffield has just restarted, and will meet on the 1st Saturday of every month at the War Memorial by the city hall between 1-2pm and obviously wearing black. A detailed history of Women In Black can be found at the linked site and it is a fascinating story to see how what started as a very small action in Israel in 1988 spread across the world.
The next Sheffield WIB will be 4th April and then the first Saturday of every month, the themes will always be related to stopping violence of all forms against women.

Just a quick reminder that we are collecting toys for the Northern Refugee Centre this month! We need the toys by 22nd march and then we’ll send them off. Anything clean, safe and appropraite more then welcome, board games and puzzles are especially good as well as anything that crosses a broad age range. Either bring the toys to a meeting or email in about collection.

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.