Sharing a Gift of Love with Asylum Seekers and Refugees this Christmas


Next Sunday we will be collecting gifts to donate to vulnerable women and children living in Sheffield. Today we are catching up with a volunteer at one of our partner organisations, The Fusion Group, Sheffield.

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, my name is Tina English and I am a volunteer facilitator at the Fusion Group in Sheffield. Fusion Group was started over 3 years ago after identifying a real need for a place of support for both Asylum Seeking and Refugee women and their children.

The group is hosted by The Together Women project in Sheffield, they kindly provide the resources and space for us to meet every Thursday morning.

It is a safe environment where the women and children can come and be welcomed and supported by myself and my colleague Helen Jones. Both myself and Helen have many years experience supporting women housed in Sheffield in Asylum Seeker accommodation.

The main purpose of Fusion is to help women who initially feel very isolated and alone in a new city. They can find out about the city, where to go, what to see and meet new friends and contacts. It is a lifeline for many, a place where they can ask questions, know there are other women they can genuinely trust and who have their best interests at heart.

We have women from many countries and different cultures. It is a real privilege to meet them and get to know them. Many bring paperwork and letters they have received and we help them sort out issues by phone calls and support at appointments.

What have you been up to this week?

Every week we plan a different activity. Last week we made scented candles and decorated the glass jars. The women are able to take home anything made in the sessions. This week we will be doing a stir fry from scratch, preparing the vegetables and cooking. A lot of our group activities involve food and eating and many bring in their own food to share.

It is always a fun, relaxed time with opportunities to improve their English language skills, which is very important to them all. I am also a volunteer English teacher so my skills in this area really help. Learning English is vital to help with integration and feeling at home in their new environment.

Can you tell us more about the work of The Fusion Group?

We organise trips out, regularly visiting places such as Chatsworth and Bakewell and various parks. Many would never venture away from the city center and their own locality. To see them discover the countryside just a short bus ride out of Sheffield is amazing.

Being part of Fusion really helps boost  confidence and self esteem. Women are able to find out about other groups in the city and take advantage of many activities provided for women and children. They are able to start putting down roots and feel part of community. Some women even feel confident enough now to run sessions at our group, sharing their own skills and talents.

What is so encouraging for both myself and Helen is to see how the women and children can grow and contribute to the community. How lasting friendships develop and flourish throughout time.

How can we support the work of The Fusion Group?

Living as an Asylum Seeker can be very hard, barely enough money just to survive. We are so grateful for the gifts this church has kindly given at Christmas time. It has made such a difference to the women and children. We always celebrate with a Christmas Party and the joy the gifts bring is wonderful to see. They are so thankful that people they have never met are  so kind and generous to them and their children. The women are of many faiths but know the gifts are given by a Christian church. Myself and Helen also deliver presents to many Asylum Seekers, survivors of human trafficking and refugees throughout the city too. Women we have come to know and love over the years and we continue to support.

We are so thankful that the wonderful people at All Saints, Ecclesall are planning to generously give gifts again this Christmas. Children's gifts are a real blessing to us all. 

It is really helpful to add a label indicating the gender and age so we can easily allocate the presents to the children. Presents for the women are also welcome, I know they particularly appreciate anything scented, like body lotion, perfume etc. they never have the money to treat themselves, or family to give them gifts.

Both myself and Helen are Christians and work out our faith by showing the love of God to these women and families that are in so much need of friendship and acceptance. If any women in the church would like to find out more about the group, maybe to visit or volunteer their time and talents, please call Tina on 0775 773 5589.