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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Female asylum seekers ask readers to Listen To Our Voices!

A University of Manchester lecturer has helped a group of female asylum seekers to publish a book of stories and poems about their experiences.

Listen To Our Voices! book cover.

Dr Siobhan Brownlie, a specialist in intercultural communication, started working with Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) as a volunteer, facilitating creative life writing activities to help members improve their English, wellbeing and empowerment.

WAST is a self-support group for women asylum seekers, and also lobbies for the rights of women asylum seekers while raising awareness of some of the issues that force women to seek international protection.

In Dr Brownlie's sessions, the women write short stories and poems about topics of their choice based on their life experience and knowledge. Some writings explore their current difficulties as asylum seekers, while others illustrate aspects of their past lives and future desires. 

A School of Arts, Languages and Cultures Social Responsibility and Cultural Engagement Funding Award enabled Dr Brownlie to help WAST to collect writings from 14 WAST members and publish them in a book called Listen To Our Voices! in June 2018.

The mixture of anecdotal stories and poems is being used to share the previously unspoken experiences of refugees that the public may not be aware of.

Dr Brownlie will also use her experiences with WAST in her book Discourse and Refugees: A Study Using Facet Methodology. Socially active researchers and lecturers aiming to improve socio-political awareness issues in relevant communities is what make our University a worldly, experienced and research-led institution.

Launching the book has been a great learning experience for me. I extend my gratitude and heartiest thanks to Dr Siobhan and all the lovely members of team at WAST for having trust in me and making me part of this auspicious evening. A round of applause to everyone who participated today.

WAST member

WAST members themselves chose both the title of the book and the illustration to go on the cover.

The book launch was supported by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, which provided the venue for the launch and publicised the book. Copies of the book were lodged in its collection after the launch. 

More than 20 copies of the book have been sold so far, with all of the profits going to WAST.

We are proud to have active researchers and lecturers aiming to improve socio-political awareness within and outside of the University.

Listen To Our Voices! Writings by Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) is sold at £7 per copy. You can purchase one directly from Siobhan Brownlie (s.brownlie@manchester.ac.uk) or from the WAST website.