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African Rainbow Family

Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTIQ) People of African Heritage including Refugees and wider Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Groups

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MY TAKE ON THE NEW ASYLUM ASPEN CARD DEBACULE

An Aspen Card, as described by Privacy International  “is a debit payment card given to UK asylum seekers [people seeking asylum] by the Home Office. The Aspen Card provides basic subsistence support, but purchases on the card are closely monitored by the Home Office, making it an insidious surveillance tool.”

I believe that changes should not be made if there is going to be major failures. I liken the changes made to the Aspen card by the Home Office to the COVID-19 vaccine. Trials are made but the vaccine is not used immediately until there is 99% confidence in its success rate. With the Home Office Aspen cards, the opposite is the case.

On 21 May 2021, the Home Office basically introduced the change from one Aspen card provider, Sodexo to another, Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) and did not trial it to see how effective it would be. Instead, PFS issued cards en mass to people seeking asylum. This seemed like a trial and is failing in all ramifications.

I would like to reiterate that most people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are given £39.63 a week as subsistence and also not allowed to work till their case is determined. This could take years. The £39 a week subsistence is not enough to cover basic needs. Now most people seeking asylum have not received the new Aspen cards. Where some have received them, there is no money in them. Some of these cards are being sent to wrong addresses or recipients.

This is absurd because this has been going on for weeks now and individuals/families are having to go without food or rely on food banks. More details can be found in the Guarding news:“Thousands of asylum seekers go hungry after cash card problems”

Charities such as African Rainbow Family and other organisations are being overburdened with this issue. These Charities are speaking out but as usual, just like the demands to increase the support, this demand is being kept in a waiting list or queue with the rest of our demands.

I call this inhumane because we should call a spade a spade. I am calling for the Home Office to look into this immediately!

You can make a donation towards food parcels for people seeking asylum here.

A big thank you to African Rainbow Family and other organisations that are supporting people seeking asylum with food parcels. I do urge people to support by raising their voices, donating and so on.

You can make a donation towards food parcels for people seeking asylum here.

End

BY NESSAKEM NWOSU – TRUSTEE, AFRICAN RAINBOW FAMILY.

Join Our Team!

We are hiring for two positions: Support Services Manager & Funding/Fundraising Officer! Could this be you? Then, we want to hear from you. Details below.

Positions Details

Position 1 title:                    Support Services Manager – Refugee Support

Salary:                                  GBP 25,000 per annum depending on experience.

Position category/type:      Migrant & Refugee Services

Date posted:                        10/05/2021

Application closing date:    04/06/2021

Interview date:                     Week beginning 14/06/2021

Location:                              African Rainbow Family’s (ARF) and Manchester

Contract type:                     Permanent and Full Time One year fixed term with possibility of

extension depending on funding availability

Full Time:                             
37.5 hours per week

Location:                              African Rainbow Family’s (ARF) and Manchester

Migrant Solidarity’s (MiSol) offices are based in The Monastery, Gorton Lane, Manchester. M12 5WF, ARF has meeting centres in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Cardiff which requires monthly travel to each branch. Currently, all ARF’s and MiSol’s Staff and volunteers are working from home due to Covid-19. A mix of working at home and/or the office is likely for the foreseeable future. When face-to-face service delivery resumes, there might be occasional travel outside of Manchester and these meeting centres with plenty of notice.

Package:                             

We offer a wide range of staff benefits, these include:

• 23 days holiday (including Bank Holidays)

• Up to 8% contributory pension

• Flexible working policy – online/remote due to Covid-19

If this is you, click the job application pack below to apply.

Position 2 title:                  Funding & Fundraising Officer

Salary:                                £10,192 actual (£21,840 FTE)

Hours:                                17.5 hours per week (Wednesday to Friday times to be agreed)

Appointment:                    1 year fixed term contract with possibility of extension depending on funding availability

Pension:                              NEST pension scheme

Reporting to:                      ARF Support Services Manager and ARF Trustees

Location:                             Manchester with some travel including to partner meetings

Job Description

Post Summary
We are looking for a Part Time Funding Officer working 17.5 hours a week, to join our small and dynamic team. The post holder will lead on building our grant income from trusts, foundations and relevant pots of funding, using their strong fundraising and communication skills to ensure that our team have the resources they need to make a difference in the lives of LGBT+ refugees and people seeking asylum. You will join a friendly team and working with our Media and Fundraising Volunteer and Support Services Manager.

The core of this role:

  • Work with our team and Media and Fundraising Volunteer to identify funding priorities.
  • Build relationships with new and existing funders.
  • Write and coordinate applications for funds.
  • Ensure grants are managed effectively and reporting to funders is on point.

If this is you, click the job application pack below to apply.

The Future of The Asylum System – UK

For explanation purposes, seeking asylum means seeking protection from strict laws, death penalties, inhumane laws and maybe wars.

photo credit: Vanessa

The asylum system which was designed literally to protect every now and then, seeks to go against the main purpose it was created for. I will explain how.

As a lesbian woman who has to prove that I am a lesbian in order to get protection here in the United Kingdom (UK), I have to provide evidence of my sexuality. How is it expected that someone running from a homophobic country and who has been in the closet for most of her life, to give evidence of that.

Also disclosing information about the women that one must have dated in hiding or even asking them for letters and/or any evidence to corroborate one’s story is in fact a security breach.

Some of us who are out or were outed, move out to enjoy the LGBT scene by going to pride, gay bars, speaking up against homophobia, racism and discrimination and it is no longer a secret. It means that if one ever goes back to one’s own country of origin, that person is risking their life.

Some people think that putting ourselves out there might just be for the asylum process but no, it is like getting out of prison and wanting to do everything that one could not do when in chains.

That is how an LGBT person seeking asylum feels in a country where they can be themselves even though the asylum process makes it hard for one to enjoy that.

The new rules, that are about to kick off are extremely difficult and absurd. They include:

  • Housing people seeking asylum in reception centres, potentially overseas, while their asylum claims are being processed.
  • Moving those refused asylum through a fast-tracked appeals process and curtailing the right to challenge refusal decisions.
  • Requiring all evidence to be submitted at the beginning of the asylum process, telling judges to “give weight” to evidence raised alter and requiring a higher standard of proof for these.
  • “Clarifying” what qualifies as a “well founded fear of persecution” and making it “much harder” for people to be granted refugee status based on “unsubstantiated” claims.

I wonder what intent Priti Patel, The Secretary of State for the Home Department, actually has for the future of the asylum system because it is not to protect anymore but to refuse protection.

Keeping people seeking asylum in reception centres is not safe especially for an LGBT person. More especially for a gay man, transgender, lesbian woman etc.

Already there have been complaints about abuse in the asylum housing system. Imagine how it would then be like in reception centres that might not actually be in the country that one has put in one’s asylum application for protection.

The idea of “requiring all evidence to be submitted at the beginning of the asylum process, telling judges to give “minimal weight” to evidence raised later and requiring a higher standard of proof” is impractical and outright wicked to say the least because it means as an LGBT person seeking asylum, if you do not have a proof of your sexuality from the start then you are not valid and could be turned away.

Let us be practical here, a lesbian woman from Nigeria or Ghana who is obviously running for her life or has been in hiding, dating a woman behind closed doors and looking for a way out, puts in her asylum application and is asked for evidence from the start when all she has is her story and stories of the homophobic laws in her country which can easily be found on the internet. How can she provide proof of same-sex personal relationships?

How unfair is it to this lesbian because sometimes even with all the proof and letters, one still gets their asylum application refused.

These proposals are so harsh and inhumane. When I look at the future of the asylum process for people like me who might want to live their lives devoid of fear, and if these proposals are passed it will become very difficult. It will in fact not be an asylum system that protects but a system that is toxic, blind to justice and human rights and/or lives.

I ask that people look into the different Home Office asylum proposals. Not just the ones that I spoke about but also the ones that stop children from uniting with their families. Speak up against these laws, show support and love for people in the asylum process because news like this can be heart breaking.

Join the cause to stop these laws. Donate to African Rainbow Family. Like and share this piece.

Ends.

By: Vanessa Nessakem Nwosu. 7th April 2021.

Trustee, Media Volunteer and Member

African Rainbow Family

ACCEPTING MYSELF

"At a point I put my hands up and gradually I started to accept myself, sounds easy but there were and are still moments I fall back because of homophobic comments and all that stuff but I always come back stronger after I look within."

At a point I put my hands up and gradually I started to accept myself, sounds easy but there were and are still moments I fall back because of homophobic comments and all that stuff but I always come back stronger after I look within.

They say your life begins when you find yourself because then you see your path clearly but is finding yourself easy?

I’d call that a rhetorical question because nothing on the surface of the earth is easy. Growing up wasn’t easy, In fact I had the type of childhood you would see in the Willoughby’s but not that it ended in me rescuing my parents lolz.

When you grow up in a family that’s all about reputation, religion, education you automatically want to do everything to be that or fix that box even when you were made to stand out. Everyone who knew me from way back knows I wasn’t like the other girls, I was a tomboy or girl boy like they call it and it wasn’t that I wanted to be a man and get all the girls, I just loved dressing up like that, with no makeup I was comfortable that way. Under that whole tomboy I was the most feminine woman you can imagine with hips I couldn’t escape lol … To be honest I’d never trade my hips or bum for anything and no, it’s not for a man. I mostly wore shirts, trainers and trousers and when I wore a skirt I still looked like a tomboy.

Talking about being a tomboy, there was a point in my life where I would get angry if you called me that partly because I had not accepted that I love women and because of the stereotype. My excuse would be I grew up with imaginary boys around and I adopted their behaviour and style well I mostly had boys around me but it wasn’t because of them. I just was a tomboy. If I ever looked at a guy I did so because I wanted to copy his dress style or make mine.

My mum hated that I wouldn’t wear heels and dress up, make my hair and all that comes between and I would tell her “guys love me like this”. Well they did I must tell you and if you ask me I don’t know why. That part of me (being a tomboy) I struggled with because no matter how feminine I tried to look you can tell by the way I walked, I was hiding who I was and it’s safe to say you can call me a TOMBOY and I won’t blink because I finally love myself.

Another part of my life I struggled with was and is my sexuality, it has been there right in front of me even when I try to run from it. I started off thinking I was just having girl crush like the one I had for Genevieve Nnaji where I imagined meeting her and we would talk and she would like me and blah blah! Some say when you go to an all girls secondary school you become a lesbian and when I hear that it sounds funny to me because before secondary school I had started having these feelings even if I didn’t know what to make of them.

Every LGBTQ person must have at one point tried to pray away who they are or given in to religious talks because apparently religion rules our thinking. No matter how you see me I love JESUS and at that I felt like me being myself was driving him from me or I was the worse sinner on earth. I went to church, prayed and even fasted but still it was like GOD kept saying “don’t run from who you are”.

 At a point I put my hands up and gradually I started to accept myself, sounds easy but there were and are still moments I fall back because of homophobic comments and all that stuff but I always come back stronger after I look within.

It’s a gradual process that should not be rushed at all, live your life, doubt yourself, question yourself but never belittle yourself or try to change who you are for anybody and I’ll say the way I accepted myself was I said to myself if it’s Love then it’s not a sin. If you love who you are, you are who you are meant to be. Accept yourself and others will keep up…

End. London 29th June 2020.

Vanessa Nwosu: Member, African Rainbow Family, London branch.

@Nessakem

The Report: Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum

African Rainbow Family
A World Without Prejudice

Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum

On 11th August 2018 in Manchester, African Rainbow Family held our second annual conference, Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum.

The conference attracted delegates from diverse walks of life with speakers whom are  ‘Experts by Experience’ (our members), including speakers from the House of Lords – Baroness Liz Barker, European Parliament – Julie Ward MEP, Manchester City Council – Councillor Bev Craig , No5 Chambers – Barrister S. Chelvan, grassroot organisations such as The Outside Project – Carla Ecola, Safety4Sisters – Sandhya Sharma as well as LGBT Foundation – Sophie. The report from the conference is available here.

‘Experimental’ data released by the Home Office in November 2017 for LGBT+ asylum cases (01/07/15 – 31/03/17) shows that over two third of  3,535 asylum applications made partly as LGBT+ were rejected. 2,379 clear LGBT+ claims were rejected, with only 838 approved (Home Office Asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation EXPERIMENTAL STATISTICS 2017).

“In view of the immense pressure placed on LGBTIQ people seeking asylum by a way of the high bar sexuality proof policy of the Home Office, people feel desperate to prove their sexuality and or gender identity hence fall prey to sexual predators, abusive relationships, modern day slavery and all sorts of abuse” says Aderonke Apata, LGBTIQ activist and Founder, African Rainbow Family. The full report can be accessed here. You can also DOWNLOAD now.

The conference also enjoyed good will and generosity from various individuals and organisations that sponsored different parts of the event.  Sponsors are The FederationCo-op Digital, Olimpia Burchiellaro, Kirit Patel, Sandhya Sharma and Toby Bakare. We were also ‘supported by the Co-op Foundation and Omidyar Network’, Greater Manchester Unite Social Action Branch, UNISON NW LGBT SELF ORGANISED GROUP and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group.

African Rainbow Family relies heavily on volunteers in delivering the essential work we do with LGBTIQ people seeking asylum. Should you feel like supporting our work to make practical social change, do consider donating here or contact us through info@africanrainbowfamily.org to discuss different options on how you might like to support our work.

END

Press Release: LGBTIQ refugee conference calls for end to sexual abuse, exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and high standard of proof sexuality policy

LGBTIQ refugee conference calls for end to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and high standard of proof sexuality policy

  • Conference exposes unreported sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and servitude  in LGBTIQ people seeking asylum community
  • Refugee speakers will tell of their experiences of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Explore ongoing plight of LGBTIQ people seeking asylum in UK
  • Conference will encourage victims to come forward for their voices to be heard
  • Call for Home Office to drop its high standard of proof sexuality policy

Manchester will host again, the second LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee conference today [11th August], shining the light on the extent of active and subtle sexual and  domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and trafficking that exists in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum’s community in the UK. Mostly perpetrated by people who owe them duty of care.

The conference will, following the #METOO movement, feature LGBTIQ refugee speakers telling their personal experiences of abuse, exploring how the hostile environment which seeks to deport as many people as possible in order to meet Home Office’s  set targets, such as in the Windrush Generation; has reinforced a high standard of proof sexuality policy in the Home Office leading to many LGBTIQs being refused asylum and highlighting the plight still faced by LGBTIQ people seeking asylum today.

In many countries, particularly in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal and violent attacks on LGBTIQ people are common. Many are forced to flee, some to the UK, after being publicly ‘outed’.

Gay people seeking asylum coming to the UK face significant barriers. The Home Office culture of disbelief has meant that it refuses to accept that any LGBTIQ seeking asylum are homosexual unless they provide ‘proof of sexuality’. This position is an extremely toxic shift towards high number of deportation following the ruling in 2010 which prohibits the Home Office from deporting LGBTIQ people seeking asylum on the grounds that they could ‘be discreet’ about their sexuality in their home country to avoid harm.

We know that the Home Office has and continues to illegally and forcibly deport many LGBTIQ people seeking asylum through its brutal charter flight methods.

‘Experimental’ data released by the Home Office in November 2017 for LGBT+ asylum cases (01/07/15 – 31/03/17) shows that over two third of  3,535 asylum applications made partly as LGBT+ were rejected.
2,379 clear LGBT+ claims were rejected, with only 838 approved.

The conference is being organised by African Rainbow Family (ARF), a charitable group that supports LGBTIQ people of African heritage and wider BAME in the UK. ARF works with the growing African LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee communities including wider BAME who face harassment, hate crimes and discrimination.
It will see a call on the Home Office to abandon its ‘high standard of proof sexuality policy, which ARF says is demeaning, humiliating, dehumanising, cruel and a driver of the culture of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in their community.

Speakers will include:

  • Baroness Liz Barker, Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords
  • Barrister S. Chelvan, LGBTIQ No5 Barristers’ Chambers, 2018 Attitude Awards
  • ‘Experts by Experience’ (LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and Refuge)
  • Paul Dillane, Chief Executive of Kaleidoscope Trust
  • Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West of England
  • Carla Ecola, Director of The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ crisis/homeless shelter.
  • Bev Craig, Labour Councillor for Burnage
  • Aderonke Apata LGBTIQ campaigner and founder, African Rainbow Family

Aderonke Apata, Founder of the ARF and a long-term campaigner on LGBTIQ asylum, who is also speaking at the conference, said:

“We are starting a cultural revolution which forms a platform to inspire LGBTIQ people seeking asylum to come forward, tell their experiences of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and let their voices to be heard in order for us to see consequences in terms of their perpetrators who owe them a duty of care to be brought to justice.

“The Home Office’s high standard of proof policy drives a culture of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, modern day slavery and all forms of emotional, psychological and mental problems in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum’s community

“I ask that the Home Office drops their high standard of proof in sexuality policy as well as the wider asylum applications.”

/ENDS

Notes to editors:

More information and tickets to the conference: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unreported-sexual-abuse-exploitation-of-lgbtiqs-seeking-asylum-uk-tickets-48018563817

More information about the African Rainbow Family: https://africanrainbowfamily.org/

For press request, contact: aderonkeapata@africanrainbowfamily.org and                                    info@africanrainbowfamily.org

Homosexuality remains a criminal offence in 72 countries and in 14 is punishable by lengthy imprisonment and in 8, death – including in Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Pakistan.

Our sponsors:
The Federation Co-op Digital, Olimpia Burchiellaro, Kirit Patel, Sandhya Sharma, UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, we are ‘supported by the Co-op Foundation and Omidyar Network’.

Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

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Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

It is happening in our community! We can’t turn a blind eye and pretend there is/are no problem(s) of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse/violence, trafficking and domestic servitude – modern day slavery in the LGBTIQ asylum seeking and refugee community.

As ‘Experts by Experience’, our wealth of personal and direct experiences through the asylum and immigration system for over a decade, campaigning for a social change in this draconian, toxic system and hostile environment; we know that our community is constantly oppressed as a result of what people believe is our vulnerability; hence a pocket-full the mainstream population capitalise on this and exploit us. After all, we are not victims but survivors! #MeToo is unreported in our community, African Rainbow Family is shining the light on this at our 2018 annual conference in Manchester on 11/08/2018.

If you’ve not yet registered to attend African Rainbow Family’s second Annual Conference titled Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK in Manchester on Saturday, 11th August 2018; now is the time to do so! Register free here. Read about our incredible speakers here and information about our last year’s stall bookings here.  Book your stall here.

African Rainbow Family has been incredibly blessed by the generosity of The Federation, Co-op Digital Olimpia BurchiellaroKirit Patel, through funding the Co-op Foundation has received from Omidyar Network and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group whom are sponsoring different parts of our Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 2018 Annual Conference!  You and or your organisation can still join our valuable sponsors this year to sponsor other bits of the conference. Contact info@africanrainbowfamily.org on how you can be involved this year or for 2019.

As you are aware, African Rainbow Family is a non-for profit charitable movement supporting over 250 LGBTIQ people seeking asylum (and still counting) in the UK whilst intensifying our work of global equality campaign for ‘A World Without Prejudice’. We operate with little or no money but rely on people like you.

Can you help? Will you chip in £5, £10 or more every month to help our work? We would remain grateful for that. Contact us or visit our website for details of how to set up a monthly standing order, make one off donation and other ways to support to us.

Meet Our Speakers At Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

 

 

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Meet Our Speakers! – African Rainbow Family Annual Conference, Manchester. 11/08/2018

The #MeToo unreported world of LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refuge in the UK is real!

On Saturday, 11/8/2018, our amazing ‘Experts by Experience’ whom are members of African Rainbow Family (Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds branches) will share their personal realities of sexual abuse/exploitation, domestic abuse/violence, trafficking and modern day slavery.

Alongside our incredible friends and allies, Baroness Liz Barker, Carla Ecola, Julie Ward MEP, S Chelvan, Sandhya Sharma, Sophie Beer-O’Brien, Paul Dillane and Councillor Bev Craig; we would explore how to end these absurd practices. Read more about our speakers here. Robin Graham will entertain us too.

Join our WeAreHuman Manchester declaration campaign here.

Book A Stall At Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

Book A Stall at African Rainbow Family’s Annual Conference 2018, Manchester.

Last year, African Rainbow Family had over 10 different organisations that took advantage of our successful 1st Annual Conference, LGBT Asylum Seekers & Refugees Tell Their Stories In Manchester! to showcase once again the amazing works that they do. Report of the conference is available here.

We are delighted to announce that Manchester Migrant Solidarity, WAST Manchester, Safety4Sisters, FiLiA, Rainbow Noir, LGBT Foundation, LISG, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, Greater Manchester Law Centre and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group have already secured their stalls with us this year! You can still enjoy the same. Book a stall with us and see how much difference exhibiting your great work at our conference of expected 200+ delegates can make to your organisation. Limited stalls left, book here now!

African Rainbow Family has been incredibly blessed by the generosity of The Federation, Co-op Digital Olimpia BurchiellaroKirit Patel, through funding the Co-op Foundation has received from Omidyar Network and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group whom are sponsoring different parts of our Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 2018 Annual Conference!  You and or your organisation can still join our valuable sponsors this year to sponsor other bits of the conference. Contact info@africanrainbowfamily.org on how you can be involved this year or for 2019.

As you are aware, African Rainbow Family is a non-for profit charitable movement supporting over 250 LGBTIQ people seeking asylum (and still counting) in the UK whilst intensifying our work of global equality campaign for ‘A World Without Prejudice’. We operate with little or no money but rely on people like you.

Can you help? Will you chip in £5, £10 or more every month to help our work? We would remain grateful for that. Contact us or visit our website for details of how to set up a monthly standing order, make one off donation and other ways to support to us.

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