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LGBTQ+ History Month: The History Decides the Future!

Photo credit: Nadim Uddin, African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, 2021.

Just like the Bible, history is more like a proof of existence. History gives meaning to the present. History is a reference when we need to gain strength.

https://wp.me/p4PTHR-BN

Throughout the month of February each year, over the past few years, we celebrate the LGBTQ+ History Month and it is a time we remember all those who fought for our existence and freedom.

African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, Vanessa Nessakem Nwosu writes:

“Personally, it means a lot to me because knowing that my queerness exists past and present gives me so much relevance. It means that I am not alone and it gives me strength to become more of myself. Knowing history adds to my relevance, as a queer woman seeking asylum, it is from reading about women like Audre Lorde that I gain strength in who I am. I am not ashamed, I am empowered just by knowing my queerness exist past and present.”

Nadim Uddin, another African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, writes:

“LGBT History Month to me, is to remember those without rights. To remember how we got rights. Raise awareness about historical and current progress and challenges for LGBTQ+ people. To support those raising awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity, equality and diversity. To learn how to change the world. To remember how far we’ve come, even recently.

Nadim reminds us that Winston Churchill famously said: “History is written by the victors.”

The women I celebrate this month are Marsha P Johnson, Audre Lorde and Anne Lister. I choose these women because I see little parts of myself in them. I see the courage I am still hoping to build from them. I see my future in them. Learning from past heroes means looking at their strengths and finding ways to make yours. I want to be outspoken and bold as Marsha. I want to be confident and be a warrior like Audre and I want to live openly and document all my Sapphic encounters just like Anne Lister.” Vanessa continues.

Marsha P Johnson. Photo credit: NBC New

“History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.” Marsha P Johnson.

Audre Lorde. Photo credit: BBC 3 Free Thinking.

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” -Audre Lorde.

Anne Lister Photo Credit: bridgemanimages 

“I know my own heart and understand my fellow man. But I am made unlike anyone I have ever met. I dare to say I am like no one in the whole world.” Anne Lister.

The above are my favourite quotes from my heroes and I hope it speaks to you. We can only write our history if we speak up. Document your life, do not be erased,do not be silent. For every closeted person there is an out person who lives an exemplary life for you to learn from. It doesn’t mean you have to come out, it means that you are not alone and you can be happy. This is what LGBT history means to me. Vanessa says.

Happy LGBTQ+ History Month, 2021.

Ends.

https://wp.me/p4PTHR-BN

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Covid-19 Impacts on LGBTIQ People Seeking Asylum

On 5th October 2020, our own Nadim Uddin, African Rainbow Family‘s member and Media Coordinator delivered a presentation on behalf of African Rainbow Family to the National Emergencies Trust (NET)’s Equity Scrutiny Group (‘ESG’). The presentation was held on Zoom and based on ensuring that the ESG works to ensure swift, fair and equitable disbursal of funds during the Covid-19 crisis from a local perspective.

Nadim presented to the ESG, the impacts of Covid-19 on LGBTIQ people seeking asylum including those that are not LGBTIQ. He presented African Rainbow Family’s emergency and ongoing response to our over 500 members across the United Kingdom. He also suggested what actions should be taken to reach, support all people seeking asylum especially during this pandemic and on the longer term.

Details of the presentation can be found here.

Nadim says:

“The virus does not discriminate, and neither should we.”

The NET said:

“The ESG needs to know the impact of Covid-19 across the country (each nation has a different response), the structural/systemic issues and impacts on communities (each country has different policies, procedures and law), issues for the Covid-19 recovery and, longer-term, what are the likely issues we will need to consider if there is an emergency like a significant flood in Cumbria or Scotland or another bomb attack, like Manchester.”

Nadim co-presented to the ESG with Paul Roberts OBE, Chief Executive Officer of LGBT Consortium.Paul presented from the national perspective. Feedback from the ESG was positive.

A member of African rainbow Family says:

“I don’t demand much, just enough to survive.’’

Consider donating to support our life-saving work with LGBTIQ people seeking asylum.

You can download details of the presentation.

For further information on this or any other subject(s), contact African Rainbow Family here.

End.

8th Oct. 2020.

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African Rainbow Family: Submission on Unequal Impact of Covid-19

On 30th April 2020, African Rainbow Family made a Submission To Women and Equalities Committee on Unequal Impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics as it affects LGBTIQ people seeking asylum. You can read our recommendations to the Women and Equalities Select Committee here.

The inequalities affecting Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, which our members are part of, have been shockingly and brutally laid bare in the UK with the publication of the study by The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre into Covid-19 deaths, revealing the pandemic disproportionately impacts BAME communities. Yet the reasons behind this, social inequality, lack of equity and racial discrimination are still overlooked by many. People seeking asylum are not allowed to work, they live on £5.39 a day and have a range of added inequalities of social isolation, lack of housing, finance and access to healthcare. LGBTIQ people seeking asylum are in particularly, hardest hit.

Self isolating, observing the government’s guidelines of stay home, save life and save the NHS in those shared accommodations has been negatively impactful on our members’ mental health and wellbeing given the amount of homophobia they are subjected to on a daily basis. The following was a quote from TH, one of our members:

“I don’t know how I am going to survive this! My other housemates always make homophobic comments at me whenever I pass through the communal areas. They usually say: it is because of these gay people that God is punishing the whole world and causing this unimaginable number of deaths. I wish for these gays to be struck down by lightening.” Says TH, member, African Rainbow Family.

African Rainbow Family takes the health and safety of our members and the population at large very seriously. We encourage our members to keep safe and healthy at home. We urge the Home Office to consider increasing the amount of weekly subsistence for LGBTIQ and non LGBTIQ people seeking asylum urgently during this Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Some deaths can arise out of hunger and inadvertently counted as due to Covid-19.

Finally, there is need for the government to make a statement to address homophobic attacks upon LGBTIQ people seeking asylum in Home Office shared accommodations to avoid some of them becoming homeless or having suicidal ideation.

You can read our recommendations to the Women and Equalities Select Committee here.

End

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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

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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

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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

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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’.

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It’s Here! – Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK

It’s Here!

Friends,

Count down to our second Annual Conference Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK on 11/8/18 in Manchester is here! What are you waiting for? You can’t afford to miss it!! Book your ticket here. Invite your friends and share the event with your networks!!!

African Rainbow Family is grateful to the generosity of the following sponsors: The FederationCo-op Digital Olimpia BurchiellaroKirit Patel. We are also ‘supported by the Co-op Foundation and Omidyar Network’ and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group whom are all 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.

We rely on goodwill of 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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Meet Our Sponsors of Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK

Meet Our Sponsors

The incredible sponsors who have kindly agreed to make our second Annual Conference,  #MeToo Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK on 11/8/2018 in Manchester a success and sponsoring different parts of our Conference include:

The Federation (venue): http://www.thefederation.coop/  Twitter: @FederationMCR

Co-op Digital (catering): https://digitalblog.coop.co.uk/

Twitter: @CoopDigital

Olimpia Burchiellaro (printing) https://www.facebook.com/quimerassinfronteras

Kirit Patel  (Charing panel)

Sandhya Sharma (Chairing panel)

(Digital/Tech) through funding the Co-op Foundation has received from Omidyar Network

 

UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (Report Facilitator’s Fee) 32-36 Loman Street, London SE1 0EH P: +44 20 7922 7812. T: @uklgig

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. Still contemplating if you would like to attend the conference on 11/8/18? Now is the time to  book your ticket here!

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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.