ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

When I meet such a person it brightens my whole day. But I confess I often have a sadder thought: It occurs to me that I’ve achieved a decent level of career success, but I have not achieved that. I have not achieved that generosity of spirit, or that depth of character.

A few years ago I realized that I wanted to be a bit more like those people. I realized that if I wanted to do that I was going to have to work harder to save my own soul. I was going to have to have the sort of moral adventures that produce that kind of goodness. I was going to have to be better at balancing my life.

Women for Refugee Women

S453anV3A4EpJ3Bdy3G9zJy43LgUGrbY5P-2Y0C-WN8Tonight Channel 4 News will broadcast an undercover investigation into Yarl’s Wood detention centre revealing the abuse and harassment of women who are detained there

by Gemma Lousley, Policy and Reseach Co-ordinator at Women for Refugee Women

The report shows guards referring to female detainees as ‘black bitch’ and ‘evil’, making threats of violence, and showing a callous disregard for their mental health – “let them slash their wrists”, one says. One guard says he deliberately walks in on women in their rooms while they are naked. The report also highlights the appalling treatment of a woman who suffered a miscarriage and was made to wait three hours for medical attention.

This investigation corroborates the findings of Women for Refugee Women. In January last year, we published Detained, which highlighted the distressing impact of detention for women seeking asylum, most of whom have survived rape, sexual violence or other…

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Women for Refugee Women

by Marchu Girma, Grassroots Co-ordinator of Women for Refugee Women

Everyone who lives in London likes to take time away from this busy city, to have fun and enjoy the sun and fresh air. But for many refugee women in London there are invisible bonds that keep us bound to the city. The most difficult is the financial restraint: most of those who seek asylum live on support of less than £35 a week while their claim is considered and if you are a Londoner, you know this does not get you far. Many refugee women also live without immigration status for years, and this means they can’t leave the country. Perhaps the most invisible reason why refugee women can’t leave the city is that while your asylum claim is being considered you have to continually ‘go to sign’. This means you have to present yourself at the UK Visa…

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Anj Handa

Dariush Kanani album cover. Copyright. Image by Jim Harris (www.harris-associates.com) Image by Jim Harris

Dariush Kanani is a talented guitarist and singer from North Leeds, who will be launching his first album, Mr Troubadour, in May.  Now 25, Dariush has been playing guitar since he was 11 years old.

At the age of 16, he developed his fingerpicking technique, citing Jimmy Page as his original influence.  This led him to listening to music by Bert Jansch, Davey Graham and John Martyn and also the late John Redbourn and Stefan Grossman, both of whom he has studied under.

Around the age of 20, whilst studying at Leeds College of Music, Dariush started to listen to singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer, and began experimenting with writing his own lyrics.

Dariush’s mother, who is passionate about the arts in all forms, supported and continues to support, his university study and subsequent vocational training, because she herself…

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Anj Handa

The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. Sigmund Freud

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Following World Autism Awareness Week, I would like to share this moving blog by my friend Gaby, a brave and beautiful soul who contacted me to ask if I would share information about the week, not knowing that I have people close to me with Aspergers, so it is a topic that matters to me.  

Nor did she know that I have lost two super bright, proud, handsome friends, who hid their Mental Health issues from those of us that loved them and certainly wouldn’t have judged them.  I know what grief feels like and can’t begin to imagine her pain at losing her brother or her bravery at writing this piece.  

There is still so much stigma around mental health in general.  I don’t have the answers.  We as individuals are…

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