Monthly Archives: October 2009

Supermarket Voucher Exchange

RESTORE aims to launch a scheme exchanging supermarket vouchers for cash for asylum seekers in order to preserve their dignity and expand their available options.

Why do we need supermarket voucher exchange?

Asylum seekers who receive Section 4 support from the government receive £35 in supermarket vouchers every week—but no cash! Section 4 applies to the most destitute asylum seekers who:

1. have submitted a fresh asylum application;

2. are seriously unwell;

3. or have agreed to return to their country of origin.

Asylum seekers often sell their vouchers for much less than face value to buy bus tickets and to shop at cheaper local markets. What YOU can do! You can help by exchanging supermarket vouchers for cash to express your solidarity with asylum seekers. RESTORE would ask you to send a cheque of £35 per month in exchange for a £35 supermarket gift card. If you wish to help, please email

For more information on RESTORE please see

Christmas Ceilidh in Shrewsbury


in aid of Hope House Children’s Hospices and Amnesty International, Shrewsbury Group

with the fantastic ‘MELOMANICS’

at Mereside Community Centre, Shrewsbury
on Friday, 18th December
time: 7.30 – 11.00pm

great music – games – raffle – tasty food

Cost: £12 each (children up to 11, £8, under 5’s free) including plate of hot food, cold buffet and a soft drink

Admittance by pre-booking only.  For booking and further information contact Jill Carr

Rock for Rights

The Central Birmingham Amnesty International ‘Rock for Rights’ fundraiser gig went successfully and I had a fabulous evening there. See for a report on the event.

Stop Violence Against Women Action in Leamington

On Saturday 31 October between 10:00 and 15:00 the Mid-Warwickshire Amnesty International group will be holding a women’s issue campaign on in Leamington Spa outside the Library/Pump Rooms. The two major issues being addressed will be: i) ‘No Recourse to Justice’: Battered but barred from help – the women UK law traps in a cycle of violence and, ii) Women in conflicts. For more information see

The Importance of Networking

In my time as Regional Rep for Amnesty International and the time previous to it I have found networking to be an immensely important activity for local groups and the region. There seem to me to be several key benefits. Firstly, it brings our human rights work to a wider audience. Secondly, partners might be able to provide support i.e. meeting rooms, display space for materials, prizes for raffles. Thirdly, events can be promoted to their supporters also. Fourthly, it can be a great opportunity to recruit new members. And there are lots more benefits to be had.

So how do you do it? Well the key to networking in my opinion is that there has to be something in it for both parties. A successful partnership like with a person has communication and mutual benefit at its heart. So what can you offer a partner organisation? Well you can provide materials, you could offer to do a stall at an event, you could give a talk at a meeting or conference and through talking find out what else might work. 

Examples of successful networking at a regional level includes relationships with the Birmingham LGBT Community Trust, The Stirrer, Midlands Cooperative, Midlands TUC and UNISON. Please share your thoughts and examples of networking by leaving a post below.

No Recourse Lobby – Wed 4th Nov

On Wednesday 4 November Amnesty International UK are organising a mass lobby of parliament to bring hundreds of activists together to urge the UK government to ensure equal protection for all women facing violence in the UK.

Women with insecure immigration status fleeing violence cannot access the benefits they need to get protection and support. Due to these women’s extreme vulnerability, immediate action is needed; the UK is in breach of its international human rights obligations while this situation persists.

I would encourage local human rights activists to join the lobby on Wednesday 4th November in London. I’m going to lobby John Spellar MP so please let me know if you’ll be there so we can meet up. Please note there are coaches but the nearest one to here departs Leicester at 7.20am. For further details on the lobby please email or see the website

Irene Khan interview

The Independent on Sunday has an interview with outgoing Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan. Read it at

Rock for Rights – Tues 20th October

Next Tuesday (20th October) the Central Birmingham Amnesty International are hosting a fundraiser gig. The ‘Rock for Rights’ event will be held at the Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath starting 7.30pm. For full details see the flyer or see the Central Birmingham blog for further details

Regional Conference Sends Message To Shell


At Saturday’s West Midlands Amnesty International Regional Conference in Birmingham delegates sent a message to Shell to Come Clean in the Niger Delta. For more information on this campaign see . Thanks to all who attended on Saturday. I will put further feedback on this blog over the coming days and weeks.

Regional Conference – Last chance to book places…

The West Midlands Amnesty International Regional Conference for 2009 is nearly here. The conference on Saturday (10th Oct) is a great chance to hear speakers including Amnesty International UK’s campaign director – Tim Hancock on the International Council Meeting, Natalie Smith from AIUK’s Individuals at Risk Team on how we will be supporting Human Rights Defenders and Prisoners of Conscience into the future and David Nicholl, a local consultant neurologist and local campaigner against torture. The booking deadline has now been extended to Wednesday 7th October. For further information and to book your place please email