Case study

Supporting asylum-seeking women in Greater Manchester

Women Seeking Asylum Together (WAST) works with women who are seeking asylum because of persecution, domestic violence and war. 
Migration Fund Migration
Organisations: Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST)
Project: Effecting change through empowerment, representation and building solidarity 
Grant amount and duration: £165,000 over 36 months 
Year awarded: 2021 
Location: North West, UK 
Campaigners from WAST Manchester hold a red banner that reads: Women Asylum Seekers Together. Human Rights. Justice. Safety. Peace. Freedom.
Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST). Photo credit: Jessica Baker

Developing WAST

  • Increasing engagement and empowerment of WAST members
  • Developing the organisation’s campaigning voice
  • Strengthening organisational infrastructure

Women Seeking Asylum Together (WAST) has been active in the North West since 2005.

Eunice Manu, WAST’s Grassroots Coordinator, is one of WAST’s two paid staff members, both working part-time. The other is Development Worker Jessica Baker, who says: We don’t see ourselves as the leaders of the organisation. We’ve got a management group, currently five women who are still in the asylum system, that lead WAST. When we make any decisions we all collectively work together, so those women have agency in how the charity is run. They can’t get paid because of their status. Our role is to support and empower them to lead the charity.”

Eunice has been in post since 2018, with Jessica joining in 2021. Both posts are funded by a Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) Migration Fund grant, which also supports the maintenance and development of WAST. The organisation has three main objectives, which their PHF grant supports:

Increasing engagement and empowerment of WAST members: WAST runs cultural activities, including a choir and a dance group. It also provides educational opportunities, such as public speaking training. A weekly drop-in is central to the life of the organisation. Eunice says: From my experience, coming to the drop in and seeing other women sharing the same experience makes you feel you are being listened to and makes you feel you are part of a family.” WAST is developing a peer support model for the drop-in, so that small groups of women can meet and support each other practically and emotionally. The management group and the two paid staff are being trained in trauma-informed support. This will give them skills to help WAST members directly, which can be passed on to enhance peer support.

Developing the organisation’s campaigning voice: WAST has always campaigned on behalf of asylum seekers and aims to influence policy. Recently they have focused their campaigning on the Nationality and Borders Bill. WAST encourages members to campaign if they wish but recognises that they need to get something from it themselves. For example, training in transferrable skills like public speaking or media presentation.

Strengthening organisational infrastructure: WAST is governed by a voluntary board of trustees, half of which have lived experience of the asylum system. WAST is working toward increasing the number of former asylum-seeking members becoming trustees.

I remember the first time I came to WAST, I was stressed and worried but after sharing my problems the love, advice and support I got was tremendous and I knew this is the place I should be.

Jesmin, WAST member

Find funding

  • Migration Fund

    Amount: Up to £60,000 per year (3 to 4 years); up to £50,000 per year (5 years)
    Duration: 3 to 5 years
    Deadline: Rolling basis

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