Pair’s vital work in the community is recognised

Florence Kahuro and Veeca Smith Uka at the Women on the Move Awards 2018
Florence Kahuro and Veeca Smith Uka at the Women on the Move Awards 2018

Two women who have helped champion the rights of refugees in Calderdale have been recognised at the Women on the Move Awards.

Veecca Smith and Florence Kahuro run Sisters United, which helps 50 people of 17 nationalities each week.

The pair won the Woman of the Year award having overcome significant personal challenges to make a real difference in the Halifax community.

Their organisation fights to improve housing conditions for refugees and asylum seekers as well as taking people to hospital, registering their children for school meals, arranging toy collections and helping find school uniforms for families who can’t afford them.

Florence, originally from Kenya, said: “We started Sisters United because were realised that something had to be done about the poor housing conditions for asylum seekers in Halifax.

“We saw that something had to be done, and that the change we wanted to see had to start wth us. If you believe in humanity you go out there and fight, you don’t sit back and wait.

“So, we decided to create a safe space for women, where they can come and get help, food and advice - women often feel isolate dead trapped at home with their children, especially if they are migrants or refugees.

“At some point in my struggles I’ve had to say ‘Enough is enough!’.

“I have struggled because I am in other people’s hands and they control what happens to me. I told myself that I can make a change, I can take the poor back. And I know that other people need help too and I can help them find their own power.”

Veecca said: “It still takes a long time for people to accept you if you’re a refugee or asylum seeker.

“People don’t always believe your story. It is easy to write off migrants or refugees and not listen to them. But people should listen, because at Sisters United, we are all here for each other. We think all women should feel respected and have their dignity.

“We accept our similarities rather than our differences, we help integrate people into society, and we link people in the same community together - whoever they are,” she added.