Charities are raising funds to give bikes to refugees in Norwich

Charities in Norwich are raising money to give bikes to asylum seekers and refugees. They say it’ll give them the independence to get around the city. Refugees live on thirty-seven pounds a week making it difficult to pay for public transport. But riding a bike could make a big difference to their everyday lives.

One in seven girls in the UK struggle to afford sanitary products

It’s estimated that many 14 to 21 year-olds here in Wales can’t afford to buy their own sanitary products. One charity says 15 per cent of girls have had to take tampons and pads from friends due to the cost. One council in Wales says girls are even missing school as they are unable leave home during their periods, it now plans to hand them out for free.

Hundreds march in protest against racism in Cardiff

Anti-racism cardiff

Protesters took to the streets of Cardiff yesterday to fight against racism.

The march, organised by Stand Up To Racism, was held on the UN Anti-Racism Day.

Juhel Miah, a teacher from Swansea who was banned from entering the US on a school trip, gave a speech about his experiences. Mr Miah described how officials removed him from a plane in front of his students. He says it was because of his name and the colour of his skin. When asked if he would try to go to America again, Mr Miah said:

I always wanted to go to New York, ever since I watched Home Alone as a child. I’m not going to give up.

There were speeches from politicians including Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, Jenny Rathbone Cardiff Central AM, Jo Stevens Cardiff Central MP, and Deputy Leader of Cardiff, Sue Lent.

Leanne Wood said, “Intolerance is on the…

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Cardiff among the worst recyclers in Wales

Welsh Government figures show only 57% of rubbish in Cardiff is recycled, that’s 5% less than the national average.

Recycling is on the increase in Cardiff, but it’s lagging behind some other Welsh counties. In Ceredigion they recycle 70% of their waste and Cardiff City Council wants the capital to match this amount by 2020.

The Council has launched a new campaign “Recycle Responsibly” to help people understand what can and can’t be recycled .

It says some people are confused about what should go in their bins with items such as food, shredded paper  and even dead animals being thrown into green recycling bins.

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Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Bob Derbyshire, says “One of the things you notice with campaigns is people do things, but then slip back into old habits.

“We need people to consistently recycle or there will be a negative impact on the environment.

“If people think that it might be recyclable and it’s a dry item then they should put it in their recycling bags because we can always separate it later.

“The biggest problems come from wet items, shredded paper, and plastic bags being put in green bins. These contaminate other rubbish, maker it harder to recycle.”

The campaign is on going.

HOPE not hate: The anti-racism organisation that’s trying to take Nigel Farage to court

Anti-racism cardiff

Nigel Farage has accused the organisation HOPE not hate of being extremist.

In an interview with LBC, Mr Farage said the widower of Labour MP Jo Cox, Brendan Cox, was part of an extremist group. “[HOPE not hate] who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means.”

The chief executive of HOPE not hate, Nick Lowles, said in a blog post, “even by his standards, Farage’s comments were disgustingly offensive.”

HOPE not hate are raising money to take Mr Farage to court. On their website it states:

Our lawyer has just sent Farage a letter demanding he retracts and publicly apologises or we will begin legal proceedings against him.

We attended a training session with HOPE not hate in Cardiff to find out more about what the organisation does.

img_2435 Some participants from the training event in Cardiff with Tom Godwin from HOPE not hate and…

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A network for people of colour has been created in Cardiff

Follow the Anti-Racism Cardiff project

Anti-racism cardiff

A woman from the charity Hope Not Hate has started a group for people of colour in the Welsh capital.

Tatiana Garavito says, “people of colour do not really get spaces and the opportunities to get involved in political activism.” She plans to facilitate a space where this is possible.

People of colour black and brown can come and start discussing some of the issues they face in their communities and how they can overcome these issues.

We want to change the horrible narratives that have been used to talk about people of colour.

The group in Cardiff have been working on a campaign called ‘Barclays we are disappointed.’ Garavito says at least one in five migrants or refugees have had their bank accounts closed by Barclays or other banks. This makes it difficult for them to find work and earn a living. The campaign aims to put pressure on banks…

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Neo-Nazi Stickers Distress Cardiff Residents

Since the EU Referendum results, racism has been spreading across the UK at an alarming rate. Welsh Cambridge graduate Karissa Singh was interviewed on BBC News; she discussed how a racist white man hurled abuse at her and her brother in a pub in London. The man in question said, “When we voted to leave the EU we should have voted out to all you lot, you’ll never be really British like me. I don’t care if you’re a doctor or lawyer, you should just go and do it in your own country.”

The BBC report went on to say that people who have never experienced any racist abuse in their lives are now being attacked in the street. Karissa started the #PostRefRacism on Twitter, so that people could document what was going on, and so that this disgraceful racist behaviour could not be normalised.

Other incidents of racial hatred have come in the form of Islamaphobic leaflets posted through letterboxes in Aston, Birmingham, as well as signs saying, “No more Polish vermin.” Racist graffiti was spotted in bus shelters in London, and an eleven-year-old was racially abused in Sussex. Additionally, Neo-Nazi stickers have been seen in the Clyde and Glasgow Green, and more recently in Cardiff.


Alex Evans, a Cathays resident, first saw the Neo-Nazi stickers on 2nd July, and more have been cropping up since then on Charles Street in Cathays and around the centre of town. Evans said, “I spotted the stickers attached to lampposts around park place on my way home from work Saturday night, and again on Charles Street on Monday morning. It really profoundly disturbed me to be honest, especially in light of the rightward shift in mainstream politics and widespread reports of open xenophobia and racism post-Brexit. It’s really upsetting to see someone attempting to make your home city appear threatening to certain groups of people. I’ve been trying to take them down wherever I can but some of them are impossible to remove.”



A request has been put forward to Cardiff Council to remove the stickers.

It is unfair and inaccurate to say that everyone who voted to leave the EU is a racist. However, some citizens are certainly using the referendum result as an excuse to openly express their racist views. A vote for Britain to leave the EU is not a vote for immigrants to leave the UK. Immigrants in the UK make a wonderful contribution to the community. Additionally, there are hundreds of Brits who live and work abroad. We live in an incredibly diverse, multicultural society and that should never change.

I, personally, am the descendant of Jewish Polish immigrants who escaped the Nazis in the Second World War. To see Neo-Nazi propaganda in my hometown of Cardiff is devastating.

If you witness a hate crime, the details of how to report it can be found here. If you are a victim of a hate crime and seek support please visit this website. Speak up on social media about any post-EU Referendum racism you see to create more awareness about these horrific events.

Show Support for Survivors Of Human Trafficking

Originally written for Bawso for the Blog2Block campaign

Modern slavery is alive in our communities today. The Home Office predicts that there are around 13,000 victims of human trafficking in the UK alone. Victims can be men, women, and children of any age. The US Department of State estimates that 1.2 million boys and girls are trafficked globally. Girls are primary trafficked for sex work, while boys are most commonly subject to begging on the street. Over half of the survivors of human trafficking suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.  The Guardian reported that about one in eight trafficked children tried to harm or kill themselves in the last month, according to a survey, and a quarter have post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In Senegal, West Africa, many young boys become talibé. Although these boys are not technically trafficked, they leave their parents to be taught by marabouts in Daaras. These marabouts are considered religious leaders who are supposed to teach the boys Arabic. However, the boys are forced into begging on the streets and are often subject to extreme abuse if they do not meet their daily quota.

This kind of abuse happens all over the world in different forms. Victims of human trafficking need an extensive amount of care and support. Survivors will need medical care, sexual health treatment, emergency accommodation, and counselling for them to recover from their traumatic experience. Fortunately, there are charities dedicated to providing this kind of care for survivors. It is important to create awareness of this distressing reality and support charities that fight human trafficking.

Refugees: Dispelling Myths

There is a lot of conflicting terminology that surrounds refugees. The media often mixes up the terms ‘migrant’, ‘refugee’, ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘immigrant’. So how are these words actually defined? And what is the UK really doing to support those who seek entry from overseas?




A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

N/B This could be an expat.


A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

N/B This could also be an expat. Many British people decide to live permanently in foreign countries and/or work abroad for many years.

Asylum seeker

Someone who has left their home country and applied for recognition as a refugee in another country and is waiting for a decision on their application.

Only asylum seekers who are granted refugee status are allowed to work in the country.

The majority of asylum seekers do not have the right to work in the United Kingdom and so must rely on state support. Housing is provided, but asylum seekers cannot choose where it is, and it is often ‘hard to let’ properties which Council tenants do not want to live in. Cash support is available, and is currently set at £36.95 per person, per week, which makes it £5.28 a day for food, sanitation and clothing. They receive no money for transportation.
(Source: Home Office)


A person who has left their home country because they are afraid of being persecuted. As a result they cannot seek protection from their home country.

When a person has been given refugee status the Home Office has acknowledged that they cannot return to their country of origin for their own safety. They may have been tortured or worried for their lives.


Internally displaced person (IDP)

A person who has been forced to move within his or her own country as a result of conflict, natural disaster, etc.

Citizens of New Orleans who had to seek refuge after Hurricane Katrina should have technically been referred to as IDPs. They were still American citizens, however many news reporters classed them incorrectly as refugees. This was discussed on NBC news and NPR.

Asylum Seekers in the UK

Far fewer people come to the UK to apply for asylum than you might think.
More than 50 million people throughout the world were forced to flee their homes last year. There are more than 13 million refugees worldwide – but developing countries host over 80% of people.

There are an estimated 126,000 refugees living in the UK. That’s just 0.19% of the total population (64.1 million people).

In 2014 the UK received 31,400 asylum applications. This was less than Germany (166,800), France (63,100), Italy (56,300) and Sweden (81,300).

Just 41% of people applying for an initial decision were granted asylum and allowed to stay.

Many are initially refused because it is difficult to provide the evidence needed to meet the strict criteria of a refugee.

(Source: British Red Cross)

This year Birmingham agreed to take just 50 Syrian refugees. This is an incredibly small number when you consider that by the end of August 2014, the UN estimated 6.5 million people had been displaced within Syria, while more than 3 million refugees had fled to countries such as Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000).


How to Help

Asylum seekers are required to have been in the UK for six months before being permitted to participate in Skills Funding Agency (SFA) funded courses.

(Source: Refugee Council)

It is possible to teach English as a volunteer with refugee charities. This will be vital in the first six months when asylum seekers or refugees are not allowed to attend classes.

Here are a few of the charities in the UK dedicated to helping refugees:

British Red Cross
Restore UK
Refugee Action
Refugee Council

It is possible to donate money to and/or volunteer with these charities to show your support.

Terrible Tales of Bad Landlords

Every student in the UK has their own horrifying story of bad landlords and disgusting houses. Letting agencies and landlords are legendary for ripping students off, failing to pay back deposits, and providing practically unliveable houses. There have been cases of a bedroom ceiling collapsing in Bristol, lucky escapes from carbon monoxide poisoning, and of course; mould.

Minna rented her house in Cardiff through an agency and never met the landlord. She noticed damp in the lounge, but no action was taken after she reported it. The damp spread to her bedroom and across three walls in the house.

Minna said, “I started getting panic attacks, went to the doctor and they said that my asthma from when I was a child had come back. I told them about the damp and the doctor said that was definitely causing the asthma. I phoned the agency again and explained what happened so they sent out two people to look at the house, they were very sarcastic and told us we need to keep the windows open and that we had caused the damp. I explained to them we keep all out windows open all the time and never have the heating on, as it was summer.”


The agency finally sent out a contractor after a series of complaints. He noticed that an outdoor pipe was broken and leaking into the lounge. The landlord still made no efforts to fix the leak. Minna noticed that after about three months of moving back to her parent’s house her asthma became better and has now practically gone.

Tom, also living in Cardiff, was shocked by the state of his flat in his third year of university.

“There was a huge chunk of jagged metal jammed into the doorframe leading into my bedroom, which also had a slanted floor and a stained mattress in which the springs were twisted and broken. There was mould around the windows of two of the bedrooms which were also filthy; used tissues and cotton buds under the beds and behind the desks, there were no curtains in the front room, the taps for the bath didn’t work, and in the kitchen there was a stain on the wall that made it look like someone had been executed there.”

Tom reported all of these problems to the letting agent, who refuse to provide the tenants with the landlord’s contact details. When Tom and his housemates moved out, they each received £10 of their individual £400 deposits back. This was owing to the problems that Tom had reported before they moved in. Tom encouraged the landlord to check the inventory the tenants and letting agent signed.


Tom continued, “when we went to request a copy (of the inventory) from the agency we were told that it had been misplaced after copies had been sent to the landlord. Fortunately we had the idea of asking for the inventory from when the previous tenants had moved out. Sure enough there were all the same issues that we’d been accused of causing. We sent this copy to landlord who didn’t address the fact that he’d been caught out. That was two years ago… I still haven’t got my bond and I don’t think I ever will.”

In Birmingham, housemates Hollie and Emma had a nightmare with their third year accommodation. Hollie’s bedroom was a converted bathroom, with a mouldy extractor fan still in the centre of the ceiling. When she asked the landlord to remove it, he left a whole in the middle of the ceiling.

Hollie said, “over time, mould started to appear in the room. Sometimes, the room was so damp the walls were soaking wet. The curtains and a photo-frame became so mouldy they were unusable. The landlord’s solution was to say that we weren’t allowed to dry our laundry or hang our towels in our room, but he refused to give us a tumble dryer, so there was no other way of drying our clothes. He only did something about this once we threatened to get the council involved, because I got a chest infection due to the mould.”


Their landlord did eventually repaint the room, but did not give the students any notice that he was coming round, and spilt paint over a jacket and a coat that were hanging in the living room. In addition the freezer was broken, the shower fell off the wall in the bathroom and was not fixed for months, there was no hot water for a week in October, and there were slugs everywhere – even on the toothbrush holder! When the girls moved out on 1st July, the new tenants turned up at the same time as they were told they could move in on the same day. This led to Hollie and Emma having to rush out of the house, losing and breaking things in the process.

Emma added, “sometimes we couldn’t get hold of the landlord for days due to a ‘family problem’. He eventually admitted to us that he didn’t know what was expected of him, as he never actually read our contract.”

These horror stories are endless. Landlords and letting agencies need to start treating students and young people like adult human beings and charging such outrageous fees and rent prices! It is completely unjust to keep deposits of hundreds of pounds when students are moving into unclean, mouldy, dusty houses, which are making them ill.