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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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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

Press Release: Coronavirus

COVID-19

African Rainbow Family’s Organisational First Response: Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

Ongoing arrangements for the office, meetings and support for members:

As a small Charity we are aware of the need to act to support and protect our members, coordinators, volunteers and staff especially those of us who are or can be ‘vulnerable’ for whatever reason. We hope the following statement clearly explains our response to the current COVID-19 situation and the channels through which we hope to maintain contact with and offer support to all of our members and stakeholders.

All group meetings are suspended for the present, though we are exploring ways to keep contact with each other. The office in the Monastery will be accessed on a daily basis by Jacqui to pick up mail and send emails. Jacqui will still receive emails and phone calls remotely and respond as usual. If an appointment or a conversation is needed please contact her on the mobile number 07711285567. You can do so by giving her a missed call and she’ll call you back or sending a text message on messenger, sms or WhatsApp. 

Current suggestions for social support include:

  • Having an online meeting. We know this would not work for everyone but may be useful for some members.
  • Setting up a buddy scheme with people regularly speaking with each other via phone and other forms of technology. Although we are aware that many members already have social support, we realise that this is not true for all members. 

We have had offers of practical support in the form of:

1. Food and essential shopping to be dropped off at the person’s door at a prearranged time, for members who need to quarantine or maintain isolation to reduce their risk of contracting or and spreading the virus.

2. Lifts to and from unavoidable appointments for people who need them. For instance, if you have an underlying health condition, you may need to reduce your use of public transport but still have to attend medical appointments. Travelling in a car can potentially reduce your risk of contracting the virus.

If any of the following underlying health conditions apply then you are most at risk from the coronavirus:

  • Heart problems that have caused you to see a doctor
  • Lung or breathing problems such as asthma or chronic bronchitis.
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Cancer
  • Any conditions relating to immune system such as Crohn’s disease, Lupus or HIV/AIDS
  • Any blood condition such as anaemia.
  • Reduced mobility
  • Any other serious medical condition not mentioned above.
  • Mental distress or mental health conditions

If you have any of the above but not exhaustive list, then please contact Jacqui on: 07711-285567 so she is aware of the support that would be useful to you.

An alternative number will be shared in the near future for anyone needing to access this support on a regular basis.

For more information, follow this link.

Lastly, all suggestions would be warmly welcomed, so please share ideas, thoughts, concerns, good practice that other groups are adopting, so we can update our actions and approach on an ongoing basis.

Do get in touch if there is anything further that we can do to assist at this challenging time.

END

Apply: Job Vacancy!

Time Extended! Due to overall quality of applications received, deadline to apply now extended till 10th December 2019!

We are recruiting!

Closing date: 10/12/2019

Grassroots Coordinator – Refugee Support
Location: Manchester
Contract type: Permanent
Full Time 35 hours per week
Salary: GBP 23,660
 per annum

Are you passionate about supporting and campaigning for the rights of people seeking asylum, migrants and refugees including those that are LGBTIQ+ who are in vulnerable situations in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London?

As a result of grants from The Oglesby Charitable Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Ben & Jerry’s Foundation; Manchester Migrant Solidarity and African Rainbow Family are recruiting for a full time Grassroots Coordinator. The Grassroots Coordinator would work 35 hours weekly across both groups, 3 days per week with Manchester Migrant Solidarityand 2 days per week with African Rainbow Family from the same office.

Download the application pack here:

Grassroots Coordinator – Cover LetterGrassroots Coordinator Job Description and Person Specification , Job Application Form  and Policy on the Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

It would involve working with groups that campaign for social change, advocate for justice for people who are seeking asylum including those who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex (LGBTI+), provide support services for refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in vulnerable situations in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London areas.

In this role, you will ensure the provision of high-quality, holistic person-centred, advice, advocacy support, empowerment and campaigning for social change for people in a range of complex and crisis related situations. You will ensure the groups’ practical peer support continue to thrive.

The end

Apply: Job Vacancy!

Grassroots Coordinator – Refugee Support
Location: Manchester
Contract type: Permanent
Full Time 35 hours per week
Salary: GBP 23,660
 per annum

We are recruiting!

Are you passionate about supporting and campaigning for the rights of people seeking asylum, migrants and refugees including those that are LGBTIQ+ who are in vulnerable situations in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London?

As a result of grants from The Oglesby Charitable Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Ben & Jerry’s Foundation; Manchester Migrant Solidarity and African Rainbow Family are recruiting for a full time Grassroots Coordinator. The Grassroots Coordinator would work 35 hours weekly across both groups, 3 days per week with Manchester Migrant Solidarityand 2 days per week with African Rainbow Family from the same office.

Download the application pack here:

Grassroots Coordinator – Cover LetterGrassroots Coordinator Job Description and Person Specification , Job Application Form  and Policy on the Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

It would involve working with groups that campaign for social change, advocate for justice for people who are seeking asylum including those who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex (LGBTI+), provide support services for refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in vulnerable situations in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London areas.

In this role, you will ensure the provision of high-quality, holistic person-centred, advice, advocacy support, empowerment and campaigning for social change for people in a range of complex and crisis related situations. You will ensure the groups’ practical peer support continue to thrive.

The end

Featured post

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

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.

Part of History: Celebrating Whom we Are Report

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African Rainbow Family is very humbled to have been able to put together a successful  first ever LGBTIQ refugee conference in the UK that calls for end to ‘vile’ proof of sexuality policy with the generosity  of The New Beginnings Fund thus:

  • Conference marks 50 years since landmark of homosexuality law reform
  • Refugee speakers will explore ongoing plight of LGBT asylum seekers in UK
  • Call for Home Office to drop ‘proof of sexuality’ policy

We are proud to say that our Part of History conference event poster has since 21st June 2017, been added to items displayed till date in the People’s History Museum Manchester for visitors to view and learn from. This would eventually be archived for future reference following the Museum’s archiving procedures. Following the conference, our branch in Birmingham has been experiencing increased referrals too and now looking to have a new branch in other part of the UK.

Report of our conference is available here , video coverage of the day is available here and also at the video section of our Facebook.

African Rainbow Family would like to say a huge thank you to all our guest speakers, panelists, group members, volunteers, conference delegates, friends and funder that made the conference possible.

Using this opportunity to watch out for our next Annual Conference 2018 coming soon!

 

 

 

Lesbian Visibility Day – We Are Human

Lesbian Visibility Day – We Are Human

The Lesbian Visibility Day means a lot. It is for us as lesbians to celebrate our richness in diversity, be proud of ourselves and work in solidarity with other oppressed groups. To me, I see it as a day when we celebrate whom we are as non conforming to heteronormative narrative and ask for freedom for those denied freedom to be who they are especially lesbian people seeking asylum hence African Rainbow Family celebrates Lesbian Visibility Day as we use it to also continually raise awareness about lesbian people of colour and demanding a fair and humane asylum system for lesbians as part of our vital work in supporting people seeking asylum.

“I find my invitation to the European Parliament to speak about issues faced by lesbians seeking asylum in Europe including the demand to end detention, deportation and unsafe living conditions for lesbian* people seeking asylum and refugees at the European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C), organised in collaboration with the European’s Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights to be well thoughtful and positive steps in expanding the conversation to be inclusive of lesbians of colour and those seeking sanctuary” says Aderonke Apata, founder of African Rainbow Family.

It is important that we are visible as lesbians in order to avoid our erasure! There are many lesbians around the world that live in fear of freely identifying as one in countries that criminalise love especially in the 36 Commonwealth countries where love is illegal including Nigeria that also has death penalty in place. The more we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day, continue the conversation; the more we raise awareness around the fact that love is not illegal, encourage lesbians in the closet to ‘come out’ and demand their freedom to be who they are.
This brings me back home to lesbian women that are seeking asylum in the UK and other countries alike. The treatment of lesbians seeking asylum in the UK by the Home Office is disgraceful and appalling! This dates back to the homophobia exported to Commonwealth countries by Britain; although Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised for this. The culture of disbelief of lesbians seeking asylum is egregious, we are locked up indefinitely in detention centre and a high proportion get deported cruelly back to their countries to face torture. The institutionalised homophobia of Home Office is of the highest order; they believe that you cannot be a lesbian and have child(ren) or have been married previously due to conforming to societal norms. This is one of the reasons why Lesbian Visibility Day is so important.

Sign up to our #WeAreHuman Manchester declaration here

Read more about the European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C), here.

Sign Up: We Are Human Pledge Manchester Declaration

Presentation3We Are Human campaign

African Rainbow Family’s We Are Human declaration campaign is asking that you join us in pledging to change the conversation and refer to us as (LGBT) People Seeking Asylum And Refuge and not asylum seekers. Read the full declaration here.

To sign up to the declaration on behalf of an organisation or yourself, complete the form below or send an email to info@africanrainbowfamily.org with the following information: Organisation, Name, Position in organisation. Use #WeAreHuman on social media.

 

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