The Afghanistan & Central Asian Association is a voluntary organisation that works to empower refugees and migrants in Lewisham and Greater London. We are at base a self-help organisation, benefiting from over 16 years’ experience and a rich volunteer culture. Our aim is to provide holistic and diverse services which jointly contribute to the personal development and social integration of the people who come to us.
By providing sewing training for up to 60 unemployed BAME women, they can take part in their local communities, make new friendships and share and overcome their experiences in a women-only space. The classes will run 11am-1pm every Saturday. Hence we need financial assistance to recruit a teacher, buy raw materials and sewing machines. The project period will be one year and may be extended depending on funding.
This is the first kind of project for BAME women in London and is aimed at improving the quality of life and producing social harmony and cohesion within this group of individuals that often face issues regarding isolation, integration and language barriers.
Women from BAME backgrounds are mostly unemployed and not in education since arriving in the UK. Due to familial constraints, Muslim and other BAME women are often not able to attend events and activities that focus on their own needs, therefore the Stitching A Future Project will run alongside our Saturday supplementary school which is critical to enabling the organisation to gain permission from husbands or in-laws to attend.
The Project will give the women an introduction to sewing using a sewing machine to learn different types of seams. How to create a pocket, insert facings and zips, how to measure the body, and how to make a dress, skirt, top or trousers.
Learning new sewing skills will mean there are a lot more opportunities for them to use their new learnt skill to start a business, start a hobby, learn English, find a job and most importantly get out of the house and make new friends.
The Project will build the confidence and self-esteem of the women, support their future career prospects and create a sense of belonging and activism in their local communities. We aim to create community cohesion and integration between all communities.
Our services aim not only at allowing our beneficiaries to learn new skills thus adopting a better understanding of British culture and society, but also focuses on ensuring the long-term progression and transferal of these valuable skills gained at our projects classes by assisting participants career prospects. This allows beneficiaries to surpass the barriers often met due to the lack of skills and experience when seeking employment. Our beneficiaries have felt more comfortable in an environment where they are better understood and feel more comfortable within the setting of the organisation.
For example, Shamila one of our beneficiaries came to the UK as an asylum seeker due to political instability in Afghanistan and unfortunately the benefits she receives along with her refugee status are limited and do not account for all of her needs, which is where the ACAA has come in.
The care packages and other services provided by ACAA have been crucial to meeting Shamila’s further needs. Thanks to the ACAA she has been involved in a Women’s Tea Corner program - a weekly project involving an hour English language class followed by a social gathering/workshop led by experts covering various topics relevant to women’s lives, such as their rights and issues relating to children, families and health.
For Shamila, the ACAA is a substitute for a family, she says: “I can trust them; there is no hidden agenda”. She emphasised that along with the material and social support she receives, ACAA also gives her a sense of purpose and identity.
Please pledge your support today and help make Stitching A Future a reality.