Category: Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Stand up to racism in Barnsley

Now is a really important time to stand up against Islamophobia and in defence of refugees.  I’m proud we had a good public meeting and rally in Barnsley in December to say “Refugees are Welcome Here” when the South Yorks Casuals marched in our town. We need to keep up our public presence to drown out the voices of hatred which try to divide our community.

Unite Against Fascism is supporting the national demonstration against racism and fascism which is taking place in London on Sat March 19th. We have a bus booked from Barnsley – more details to follow, but if you want a seat on the bus please let me know.

There will be an open organising meeting at the YMCA Blucher St Barnsley on Tues 23rd Feb at 6.30. We will be discussing local activities including holding a public meeting in advance of the national demonstration. All are welcome to come along and help build the anti-racist movement in Barnsley.

Hoping to see you on 23rd.  If you cant get there but can use leaflets etc to advertise local events, please let us know.

My dream is achieved

Jimmy, a refugee from Sudan tells us the story of his refugee football team

FootyTeam 1

When my friend told my about Barnsley and said it is a small town, and you will not like it, also you will not find your dream of some good people and education, they told me that it would be better if you chose Manchester or Liverpool or London, so that you can live and learn quickly. They have told me that refugees and asylum seekers living there are scattered and do not know each other.

I have told them the problem is not in Barnsley as a small town and it is not the solution to go to Manchester, Liverpool or London. The problem is when a person living in a small town has small dreams the city becomes small, and when you have big dreams the city becomes large even if it is small. For the people I told them it’s important to show love, respect, trust, honesty and good ethics and then people show love to you.

Some things are not impossible, but if a man wanted only to be in a small place in a small room with small ideas and thinks only of eating and sleeping he will achieve little. But if a man wanted to transform the dream of a small idea into a big idea, this can become a successful project, creating strength from weakness.

The simple idea I had was to buy a football for three pounds and bring refugees together. I told them life is tough, but we must live with all the pain and rigors. I told them the tiger stands strong, and the eagle loves space and a life of freedom so we have to be strong like tigers and live in space like eagles do. We have a football field and we are brothers who play there and afterwards we all eat together. We also go to English language lessons at the Red Cross and then to the library for conversation and coffee.

Hearts have gathered and are united before they gather in our home lands and unite, our making of Barnsley City is unprecedented in the UK and today we dream of games with all refugees in London, Manchester and Liverpool, this is the idea of one man, now we are one hundred and fifty strong in the heart of one man.

Anything is possible within the world in which we live. Only fear prevents us from fulfilling our hopes and dreams. If we are faint-hearted or cannot be bothered to search for ways to improve ourselves and pursue our goals, even simple things won’t be achieved. However, we can be successful in achieving improvement if we are diligent and patient. Seeking advice and the opinions of good law-abiding decent people from all communities will help us all to live in a better and peaceful society.

This applies to the football team I started in May 2015 and above is a picture from that time.

My grandfather used to say that no matter how dark things may seem there is always light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be patient and determined in order to achieve our aims.

This is a story about a farmer who had a deep well. He had a horse that was old and he wanted to get rid of it because of it’s age. He asked his friends and neighbours to put the horse in the well and fill it with earth. The horse became aware that it was in great danger and as the dirt was poured into the well it shook the dust from it’s back and climbed to the top of the mound. The horse gathered all it’s strength and jumped from the highest point of the earth and escaped from the well.

Everyone marvelled at how brave, intelligent and determined the horse was. Although it was only an animal, it knew it wanted to live and wasn’t prepared to just accept it’s fate, it wanted to survive.

Sometimes a door closes, but we mustn’t surrender to disappointment, despair or worry as another door will open eventually. We must never give up, just like the horse did.

As human beings we can learn much from this. The horse was steadfast and determined in it’s resolve and we must try and be like this in our efforts to live with dignity and pride.

This is the picture taken five months after the first one and it shows how far we have come from our humble beginnings in a local park to playing matches at Barnsley Football Club. We are very grateful to the club for letting us use their facilities and providing us with our kit.

FootyTeam 2

All of us came to this country from very difficult situations in different countries and this brought us together and helped us enjoy life. This is not only because we enjoy playing football, because after the match we like to socialise by eating and drinking together. I thank God I have changed the course of my team for the better, so they are in a stronger position in Barnsley. Thank God the dream came true.

Jimmy from Barnsley

Stand Up To Racism

A message to those opposed to the South Yorkshire Casuals demonstration:

The nature of the South Yorkshire Casuals has been emphasised by the letter in this week’s Chronicle supporting them sent by Daniel Cooke.

Daniel Cooke is a long standing member of the BNP who posed with a replica gun at a BNP St George’s Day party in Rotherham in 2011. In the same year the Chronicle reported that he had been found guilty of criminal damage; he had given an address in Skelmanthorpe but denied knowing the woman who lived there who said she was his girlfriend.

Cooke has always been an unpleasant fantasist so he fits in well with the South Yorkshire Casuals.

The antagonism to the Casuals’ demonstration continues to grow so the meeting we are having in the library on Saturday 5th December at 11am will be important for getting together people who want to make the counter demonstration as large as possible.

A leaflet for both events is attached. Please spread the information as widely as possible.

View the flyer here: Refugees welcome here public meeting 5 Dec

Community tattoo!

Unite, the Barnsley tattoo shop and helping refugees

This article by Jody Whitehill originally appeared on UniteLive, Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


Like many of us, Ruth Rollin, a tattooist and Unite community member from Leeds has been deeply saddened by the images of Syrian refugees in the media.

The body of little Aylan washed up on the beach left the nation shocked and dismayed that our government is not doing more to help people fleeing war torn Syria.

Ruth, who owns Red Tattoo and Piercings in Leeds decided she was going to do something to help.

Ruth met her husband Joe Rollin, a Unite organiser, eighteen years ago through their anti-fascist campaigning.

It was Joe who suggested that she raise some funds for the community centre in Barnsley that he had set up two years ago.

Red tattoo studio has four resident tattoo artists and two body piercers and has a steady flow of regular and new clients.

“What is happening in Syria is so awful,” said Ruth.

“I think so many people want to do something to help but maybe don’t know how,” she added.

Ruth decided she would donate an entire days takings towards funding English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes for asylum seekers at the Barnsley community centre.

The team at Red Tattoo raised £1,500 to go towards the Unite Learning project which the Unite activists are planning on expanding.


Fundraising at Red Tattoo

She also set up a drop off point at the shop where local residents could donate items for refugees in Calais.

“It’s about helping those who are already here but also helping those stuck in the jungle,” said Joe.


The items donated will be driven down to Calais and the money raised will be used to help those who want to learn English but can’t afford to pay for the lessons.

Joe joined Unite as an organiser for the community section, which helps give people out of work a chance to organise and campaign to improve things within their local communities.

It was Joe’s idea to find somewhere as a base for his community members to get together.

“Organising people who aren’t in work is really hard as you don’t have anywhere to meet,” said Joe.

“Members in employment would have meetings at their place of work,” he explained.

Joe went to the National Union of Miners (NUM) headquarters in Barnsley with his idea of creating a space to organise people who aren’t in employment but want to be part of the trade union movement.

“The biggest cause of unemployment round here is the closure of the pits,” said Joe.

“The NUM bought into the idea and gave us the space for free,” he added.

From strength to strength

It hasn’t been easy though. When Joe started out the centre had just one room and one computer.

But it has gone from strength to strength. The centre is a place for campaign activity around issues like the bedroom tax, welfare cuts and sanctions.

They have also run their own campaigns to save free travel for the elderly and disabled, fought the closure of sure start centres and they collect food for the local food bank.

Now with the money donated by Red Tattoo and Piercings the centre will be able to offer free ESOL.

“Being able to offer ESOL at the centre means we can reach out even further and help those who possibly have language as a barrier,” said Joe.

As well as a whole days takings Red Tattoo also sold donated cakes, gifts and artwork to help raise money.

Vicki Dawson, who works at the shop and is also a Unite community member told me that the day was a real success with regular and new customers.

“We didn’t know what reaction we would get from customers but it was really well received,” she said.

Staff had put up flyers before the day and lots of people turned up as walk in appointments for piercings and tattoos.

“It was great as people could come and get something done for themselves but know that their money was going to a really good cause,” said Vicki.

British Red Cross, Refugee Support, Barnsley – NEW VENUE

The British Red cross is running both Refugee Advice drop-in and Orientation Group in Barnsley. Downloadable flyers can be found below. Please note that the dates and times of both projects remain the same but the venues have changed.

If you have clients that may need to access the British Red Cross, please first signpost them to register at the Advice drop-in on Wednesday as the Orientation group is limited by the capacity of new members that can be registered per term.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this information amongst your contacts.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Lucy Simmonds on 07834 788569 or 0114 242 7370 (reception) if you would like to discuss further.

Click to view: Flyers 2.2 Barnsley drop-ins 25092014