Lift the Ban Campaign Wins the National Campaigner Award for Best Coalition
Asylum Matters, together with Refugee Action, is thrilled to accept the National Campaigner Award by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation for the Lift the Ban campaign which received the award for best coalition. This award category recognises campaigns led by multiple partners in ways which are creative, respectful and genuinely collaborative.
In less than six months, the Lift the Ban campaign has grown to a coalition that is 175 members strong. It brings together charities, businesses, trade unions, think tanks and faith groups. It has garnered support from across Parliament and local authorities as well as scores of celebrities. These multiple organisations, institutions and individuals are united by a simple common purpose: lifting the ban that prevents people seeking sanctuary in the UK from working.
The Lift the Ban campaign is built on deep collaboration among diverse organisations. We are delighted that the award recognises our collective energy, creativity and vision. Asylum Matters wants to use this opportunity to thank all coalition partners for their effort and commitment and the funders who have supported us.
It is impossible to capture all the activity that Lift the Ban campaign has generated. Across the UK, small charities on the frontline of supporting people going through the asylum system have met with MPs, mayors and local councillors to make the case for lifting the ban, while national charities have reinforced those efforts in Westminster. A growing number of influential voices have also joined the chorus of calls for change. The Chief Economist of the CBI referenced the campaign in an article from the World Economic Forum in Davos. Ben & Jerry’s sent ‘nonsense pints’ of ice-creams to all MPs to demonstrate the absurdity of the ban. Business leaders have expressed their support for lifting the ban in the Financial Times. Faith leaders like the Archbishop of York have made a compelling case for change. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty echoed the call to lift people out of poverty by providing the right to work. And scores of household British celebrities did likewise in a letter to the Guardian. Tens of thousands of supporters have signed a petition to the Home Secretary, who has the power to change the rules.
People seeking asylum have been at the heart of the campaign. Their views and experiences shaped our campaign report. They have spoken about their experiences, and why the rules have to change, to decision-makers in parliament and at party conferences, and in the media, and we thank them for sharing their stories, even as they wrestle with the daily consequences of the ban. Nahla was among those who spoke about her experiences of being denied the right to work, “I wanted to feel that I was worth something. If I was allowed to work, I could have supported myself and my son. I could have been able to be independent, I could have lived a normal life and not feel pressured and feel that I need others to support me.”
The result has been that MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, are repeatedly raising the issue in Parliament and in the media. Beyond Westminster, the Scottish and Welsh Government, and a growing number of local councils around the UK have also expressed their support. The government has recently committed to reviewing the policy around the right to work. But, for now, the ban is in place. And so, we accept this award, without complacency or satisfaction, but rather with even greater resolve to strengthen our collective effort. We will keep campaigning until people seeking sanctuary in the UK are granted the basic dignity of having the opportunity to work and to provide for themselves and their family.