Women Asylum Seekers Together

WAST are women asylum seekers of different nationalities living in Greater Manchester, who have been through the asylum process and in many cases are under threat of deportation. WAST have experience of running arts & literary projects, public speaking and activism

Women Asylum Seekers Together

CAN first worked in partnership with WAST to co-produce their new short play How I Became an Asylum Seeker. The performance incorporated drama, movement, video and sound and gave the group their first experience of performing at a mainstream theatre.

How I Became an Asylum Seeker is a powerful drama that raises awareness of the plight of women within the asylum system. The performance was based on a script written by member Lydia Besong with support from the group and was based on the women’s own experiences.  The story concerns a woman, Monique, and her experience of seeking asylum in the UK after fleeing persecution following the murder of her husband, after being forced to leave her children behind and dealing with the aftermath on her emotional state. Finding herself within a remote and unsympathetic immigration system, Monique finds support through WAST and the women there who all share similar experiences.

The original sharing that took place to packed audiences at Zion Arts Centre brought much needed local media attention to the plight of Lydia Besong when she was put into detention shortly after her play showed. This media attention had a very positive outcome with Lydia’s asylum-case going to high court and being declared illegal.

In January 2010, the GAP Unit, a not-for-profit organisation based in Hulme received funding to continue the development of the play and the cast performed it again at the Zion Arts Centre and a venue in central Liverpool at the end of March 2010.  The two events also included workshops, campaign and team advice and aimed to increase awareness and understanding and open up new channels of communication between refugees & asylum seekers with service providers and local authorities in the North West.  Both events were fully attended by people from within the public and voluntary sector, as well as the general public. There were full attendances for both events with people attending from as far afield as Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Leeds.