Working in collaboration with WAST we have been delivering Friday fitness sessions to try and combat the stress, anxiety, depression and trauma that women from WAST experience as a result of navigating the asylum process.
Our pilot project saw us deliver three creative and culture movement and fitness sessions on Fridays for over 20 women of all different ages.
Each workshop began with a light warm up, the women beginning by slowly moving their knees, moving forwards and backwards before basic dance movements were integrated. This instantly brought smiles on the women’s face, with everyone feeling more energetic. The instant gratification and joy, the ladies were feeling at this point, was evident.
One woman complained that her body was aching when she arrived for the workshop, but she soon took part in the warm up activities, eventually joining in the dancing, forgetting about her pain. Other women had smiles on their faces, and began dancing as soon as they walked into the room.
Dahlia, one of our Fitness Friday instructors used storytelling to describe the movements: “people need help, they reach out for help but reject it because of pride but then they realise that they need the help and that they can put their pride aside and accept the help because we are all going through the same struggles”.
Participants were put into groups of two people with one person representing the helper and the other person representing someone who needs the help. This involved opening up and giving their trust to their peers. One person would stretch their arms out showing they are there for the other person in need. Then the other person would then reach out to hold their arms in order to accept the help.
Each action, reflecting the struggles of those women, was performed beautifully
After a break, participants then freestyled their movements, dancing with each other happily. Participants could be seen holding each other’s hands, hugging each other and introducing each other to their cultural dances.
The classes were delivered with sensitivity and care, making sure the women understood the importance of self care and seeking help if they need it.
As Dahlia said: “We are here to uplift and to let people know that there is hope. Whatever you are going through, whatever your situation is, you can progress. By uplifting the spirit and showing that we are here together is the greatest gift”.
To help Afrocats support even more women struggling to navigate the asylum system, visit our Support Us page.