Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) – Group Award Winner – 2008

WAST is a group of women seeking asylum in the UK living in Greater Manchester who have established their own self-help and campaign group. Women have left their countries following torture and persecution, many from domestic and sexual violence, threat of an honour killing and FGM, and because of oppression due to their sexuality, race or political activity. WAST offers support and advice to women refugees and helps them to set up their own anti-deportation campaigns.

WAST also lobbies for the rights of women asylum seekers in general and to raise awareness about issues that force women to seek international protection and the injustices they undergo while going through the asylum system. WAST members run workshops around issues of women, asylum and gender persecution/violence for a variety of organizations including Salford and Manchester Universities, and at local community events, and for public service workers (in health, education and social services) and also give public talks on the issues around women asylum seekers and on their own individual anti deportation campaigns both nationally and locally.

WAST has published a leaflet of recommendations for good practice for agencies working with women asylum seekers and in July 2008 published their own book Am I Safe Yet? of first-hand narratives by nine WAST members. Each woman tells the story of her early life, what led her to flee her home in Africa or Asia and her experiences since arriving in Britain. The book is illustrated with full-colour portraits and poetry and contains background information on the British legal system and how it relates to asylum-seeking women and their families.