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Welcome Back To The Human Race

5 Feb


Congratulations ma’am, on closer inspection you are a human being after all. Three years ago you were walking around in the snow with no home and not a penny – your asylum claim and section 4 support had been denied so you ceased to exist and were left to the kindness of strangers for support. This snowy day you have that priceless piece of plastic in your purse declaring that you have Three Years Discretionary Leave To Remain. All RASAG members and friends wish you the very best of everything Azizeh and we give heartfelt thanks to the UKBA for acknowledging that you, a grandma from Tehran who survived a terrifying journey to flee persecution and seek sanctuary in Britain, are human after all.


Flight Halted – Next Action

22 Jun

Paul Blomfield MP Sheffield Central at Lemlem’s demo – good man!

Lemlem Hussein Abdu will not be deported on Sunday.  Paul Blomfield has informed us “Immigration Minister Damian Green has agreed to my request to meet me and the Bishop of Sheffield and to halt Lemlem’s deportation until that meeting. We will be highlighting the support that Lemlem has within Sheffield, and that her deportaion would shame the UK.”

It is essential that we give Lemlem a massive show of support now by emailing Damien Green and Theresa May telling them that we love Lemlem, she should be released from detention immediately and granted leave to remain in the UK.

Email addresses for Home Secretary Theresa May(she has a lot) are;

Theresa May is at;


Damian Green:


Sheffield NEEDS Lemlem

22 Jun

Thursday 21st June 2012 1pm, Sheffield.  People  gathered to bear witness to the gross injustice in the asylum case of Lemlem Hussein Abdu of Eritrea, 1/1/50 who is currently detained at Yarls Wood Immigration_Removal Centre, Bedfordshire.

Lemlem was born in a village in 1950 in what is now Eritrea   She was married at 12 and spoke Tigrinyan.  She lived a traditional life and was not able to read or write her native language.  Lemlem was surrounded by her family and friends. parents, children, grandchildren…  In 1978 her village was burned down.  Lemlem lost everything.  She fled.  She survived.

Lemlem’s story from then on is well documented – Ice and Fire Theatre Company have made an “Asylum Dialogue” of her life story and previous campaigns by the Sheffield community against the wrongdoing of the Uk Border Agency  have highlighted the details…  In 2007  Lemlem was deserted in London, with no money, no ID, no family, no friends, and no English with which to cry for help.  She was 55 years old, disabled and destitute.  

Lemlem came to Sheffied under an arbitrary dispersal order from the UK Border Agency: Against all odds, Lemlem  made a family: Lemlem made a home.

Lemlem is in detention for the third time in the UK.  The Uk Border Agency has booked flights to the Ethiopian capitol Addis Ababa for the third time, despite the fact that their establishment has now accepted that Lemlem Hussein Abdu is Eritrean by ethnicity, not Ethiopian.

Lemlem at demo apposing Eritrean Ambassador UK, Feb 2011

Lemlem talking at IT Club on Monday 18th June 2012 on subject of reporting to UKBA Tuesday 19th June 2012

Please contact the airline on their facebook page – – messages on their page will send shockwaves to the highest levels of their commercial sales team – it will hit them were it hurts, in the pocket.

They are a courteous and charming airline, and will be glad to hear your concerns about their customers and crew – airlines have stopped deportations before now.  Flight ET 701 to Ethiopia 21.00 June 24th 2012 Ethiopian Airlines, Heathrow – Addis Ababa.

Please keep up to date with campaign new and actions by joining the facebook page


Please see Sheffield’s response to Lemlem being taken away from us:

Please keep trying for Lemlem, for peace, for love, for all of us

Happy refugee week Lemlem – Wishing you were not so terrified, brutalised, denied…

Sheffield Loves Lemlem

20 Jun


Lemlem is 62 years old and was born in Eritrea.  The village she comes from was a known support base for the Eritrean Liberation Front and consequently in 1978 her village was attacked by Ethiopian forces and burnt to the ground, leaving Lemlem with no surviving relatives.

Lemlem fled to Sudan and lived in a refugee camp, eventually achieving refugee status.  Finding herself with few opportunities as a refugee in Sudan, she applied for work as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia and got herself a job with a family.  The family regularly visited the UK, and wanted to take Lemlem with them to care for their children, so they obtained an Ethiopian passport for her;

Lemlem is illiterate in both Tigrinya (native tongue) and Arabic (2nd lang), so never applied for, read or even held her own passport.  As Eritrea had gained Independence from Ethiopia in 1993 the passport was fraudulent in relation to her nationality at the very least.

In 2000, Lemlem’s employers visited the UK and took her with them. She had a fall and suffered a broken leg while looking after the family’s children:  She has never fully recovered. Her employers stopped paying her wages as she could no longer carry out some heavy physical tasks.  On a subsequent visit to the UK in 2007 the family abandoned her in a shopping centre with no money and no identification. She has sight and mobility problems.

Lemlem had no prior knowledge of the asylum system in the UK, but came to understand that she would need to register herself and file a claim for “asylum”, which she did.  She was refused.  Lemlem was sent to live in Sheffield, and despite her traumatic history and tragic absence of any living relative or friend, Lemlem threw herself into the Sheffield community, attending ESOL classes, conversation clubs and community groups with an optimism and generosity of spirit that amazed anyone that knew even the remotest detail of her past or current situation.

After her appeals against her refusal for asylum were turned down, Lemlem became destitute.  She became ineligible for any form of public housing or support; having nowhere else in the world to go, she became dependent on charities (notably ASSIST) and the goodwill and generosity of Sheffield people.

In July 2010 and again in October 2010 Lemlem was detained by the UK Border Agency, sent to a detention centre and flights were booked to deport her to Ethiopia, a place where she knows no one, does not speak the language and would receive no form of support.  She could not have survived there.  Thankfully on both occasions injunctions halted the removal orders and spared Lemlem at the very last minute.  No-one who knew Lemlem could bear the thought of her being detained again, never mind deported, so she did not return to the address from which she had been forcibly removed and did not report to sign at the UK Border Agency, the other location from which she had been forced into detention.

A fresh claim for asylum has been prepared for Lemlem by a devoted voluntary legal team.  Friends of Lemlem and those involved in previous campaigns were on standby for Tuesday 19th June 2012 when Lemlem would report to the UK Border Agency and re-register herself.

Lemlem spoke to Ian Nesbit at RASAG IT Club on Monday;



On Tuesday 19th June 2012 Lemlem Hussein Abdu, 62, Eritrean was detained by the UK Border Agency and sent to a detention centre.  She will be deported to Ethiopia on Sunday 24th June 2012, 9pm.

A protest will take place outside Sheffield Town Hall , Thursday 21/06/12, 1pm.  We will march to Vulcan House to protest outside the UK Border Agency offices.  They know we are coming and will be expecting a reasonable crowed and a bit of noise disturbance (they shut the curtains on previous occasions).  It is essential that this demonstration gets as many people as possible.

Lots of people will be busy at work and not around town, but if everyone could convince SOMEONE to go, it could make the difference.

Someone sharing the e-petition on facebook today wrote “AMIGOS,POR FAVOR: tirem um minuto para assinar esta peticao. E una historia distante para muitos de nos mas sera una assinatura que pode evitar uma sentenca de morte. Estejam onde estiverem, e isso que ira pesar. Va la, uma pequena contribuicao, um pequeno gesto mas una vida que se salva!!!”  – I wasn’t sure what it meant but Bing informed me that the last part means,” spare a moment to save a life.”

It really is that important.


Sustaining IT…

8 Feb

RASAG’s love of IT Club is growing by the day – what could be better than 4 hours of high speed internet access, hot food and drinks and as much support as you could wish for?  Er, 10 times as much!  That’s right, RASAG is aiming to change it’s relationship status with IT from “complicated” to “married, full time, 9-5, forever”!  There are many reasons for this emergent longing for commitment, the main one being the cornerstone of many a successful partnership : NEED.  Every funder worth their salt, from city councils, to foundations to Joe Bloggs at the charity bingo wants to know one thing; why do you  NEED to do this activity,or rather, how have you established the NEED for the work?  Well the RASAG group established a gap in provision as detailed in previous posts,and having secured a small amount of funding, trialled the activity…  30 + participants, 6 regular volunteers and countless expressions of interest later, suffice it to say that IT Club feels needed, wanted, loved even!  However, just as our regulars are bound to discover that “DatingHotGirlsOnline” comes at a price, so the naysayers would have us believe that free internet access and printing with a beneficiary expenses budget for the most deprived and digitally excluded people in our communities is not a sustainable option – it will never catch on, say they… 

Luckily, RASAG HQ has other ideas…  Thanks to a fortuitous meeting of minds with the marvellous ACCESS Space RASAG has seen a whole new world of possibilities re. IT, sustainability and real world skills for our membership.  To cement this partnership we are embarking on a flagship project, bringing 21st century skills to those furthest from the job market (funder’s gotta love that,  right?), hopefully  with the generous provision of Humber Learning Consortium’s Community Grants scheme (European Social Fund and Skills Council funded).  With this, or A N other grant, we will enable 10 “hard to reach” learners to dismantle a broken pc, diagnose what is wrong with it, source the parts needed and fix the machine.  With their now fixed machine, they will be guided though installing open source software, which is free, and using the programmes and search features on the operating system.  With their new found knowledge of hardware and software, learners will be introduced to the wealth of online opportunities, including buying and selling, getting hold of free stuff and promoting services online, all for free – what could possibly be more sustainable than that?  Oh yes, one more thing, those who complete the course will get to take their pc away with them and do with it what they will – wow – that’s a giant leap towards the job market for those that finish!

Finally, RASAG has one beedy eye on the emerging Sheffield Community Network, an initiative that hope to help “deprived communities and disadvantaged social & economic groups in Sheffield to access and use ICT.”  Sounds like a good idea huh?  Do you think they want any help with that?  Sure they do, and here at RASAG we know that the ONLY way to promote digital inclusion and turn that towards economic equality, is to build a model that actively nurtures those who are EXCLUDED from the economy; asylum seekers, destitutes and members of host and settled communities who find themselves marginalised from society – if you can build a service that works for ALL, you WILL create growth, you WILL create opportunities, you WILL create jobs (+ hit those all important targets)…  That’s the RASAG 1 for ALL, bottom-up model, and that’s why we Love IT x

Doing IT?

29 Nov

IT Club has enjoyed it’s 5th successful session, with numbers steadily rising from 8 attendees at the first session to 17 at yesterday’s…  Volunteers are growing week by week as well, with three people now committing to attend regularly to assist members  with skills using email, web based publishing sites and reading.  As the activity develops the evidence of the need for  it is mounting up -so it seems like a good time to answer the question – IT Club –  why do it..?

On 11th September 2011 RASAG held it’s second “Happy Eid For Everyone” party, pictured above.   The majority of the budget was used on food making sure that there was a wide selection of dishes from around the world, freshly cooked with “whole food” ingredients, all suitable for our majority Muslim membership…  The party was open for everyone in the community and we aimed to cater for the enjoyment of a born and bred white Sheffielder, just as much as for a person or family from a different culture.

Our main intention in organising an event as a refugee/asylum seeker group, is to ensure that it is accessible to the hardest to reach people, including those who through the workings of the UK asylum system have been made destitute with no legal status to allow them to work and no recourse to public funds.  Good food, good music and the certainty of a friendly welcome all ensure that our parties are accommodating to someone living in enforced destitution.  Thanks to RASAG teaming up with the welcoming organisation Sheffield City of Sanctuary, “Happy Eid…” enjoyed a fabulous turnout of almost 200 people – African Arabic , Asian and Persian dishes were enjoyed alongside the sounds of DJ Ebo, and Shangra band Yakam Jar Bu – people danced, and laughed and were merry – even the tinned fruit and ice cream dessert was received with rapturous enthusiasm!  To the untrained eye the old school hall was the picture of affable comradery, but from RASAG’s p.o.v, the people who couldn’t raise a single smile, who’s foot never tapped to the beat and who didn’t exchange a word in sociablity were the only ones who mattered and they were dotted throughout the room like shadows in every corner.  Which raised the question – as a group, is it enough to simply afford a welcome to those most in need at occasional gatherings?  If the best we can do as a community group is provide a jolly a few times a year, are we really doing anything at all?  So IT Club was born.

The idea is very simple – four hours of high speed internet access on 11 PC’s, a box of additional resources including Flip cameras, ESL textbooks, dictionaries etc, a shared hot lunch and a small amount of petty cash to reimburse travel expenses for unwaged participants and volunteers – oh and printing is free with the room by default, although the line did have to be drawn when someone wanted to print a whole book!  There is no pressure  for people to prescribe to a specific line of learning, and in fact those who come along expecting a structured IT lesson are quickly put right.  The shared blog space ( and encouragement to use email, Youtube, facebook and Twitter alongside learning basic IT skills, such as log on, shut down, highlight, double click, make IT Club more like a conversation club online.  Just like Sheffield’s highly successful conversation clubs, IT Club is not only open to refugees and asylum seekers, but to everyone who wants to talk and share, forming a community.

That’s what we’re doing – and we’re going to keep doing IT.

hi i am new member of it club.

14 Nov

hi i am new member of it club..