In June a series of actions and events took place across the UK organised by the Lift the Ban campaign – a coalition of 200 members, including charities, think tanks, businesses, trade unions and faith groups. Supporters and campaigners united in a common goal, to call on the UK Government to grant the right to work to people seeking asylum.
Events took place in some of the UK’s biggest cities: Manchester, London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry, Halifax, Middlesbrough, Glasgow and Leeds, to name a few; in towns, such as Stockton on Tees, Hastings and Harrogate; and even beyond, at the peak of Skirrid Mountain, at Souter Lighthouse on the North East coast, and at the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey. These events brought together diverse groups of people, including experts by experience, as well as local councillors, MPs and the general public.
Coverage of Events:
In south Wales, Sunderland and Yorkshire walks took place to march in solidarity with those who are banned from working. Campaigners from Newport and Powys climbed the Skirrid mountain in support of Lift the Ban, and dedicated the walk to Mustafa Dawood, a Newport asylum seeker who tragically died in an immigration raid last year. BEACON Bradford organised a 11 mile route, #WalkForWork from the centre of Bradford to Leeds Kirkstall Abbey. The event received extensive media coverage on local radio stations BBC Leeds (1:11:00) and BCB, as well as being filmed for the BBC Yorkshire & Lincolnshire Sunday Politics Show.
Lift the Ban momentum made its way into UK festivals; Horizons Festival, who hosted a Lift the Ban workshop, Journeys Festival International, and Festival by the Lake which brought together more than 700 people, and even featured at Glastonbury.
Our Coalition partner Ben & Jerry’s hosted a Welcome Not Walls installation at Piccadilly gardens in Manchester, attended by Kate Green MP. The wall was set up to coincide with Trump’s visit to the UK, and asked passers-by to write messages of welcome to refugees and people seeking asylum. Rebecca and Ed from Ben & Jerry’s were later invited to 10 Downing Street to set out the case to senior government officials on why businesses are backing restoring the right to work for people seeking asylum in Britain.
As part of a local day of action, Birmingham became the first city in the West Midlands to join the Lift the Ban campaign and support the call to give people seeking asylum the right to work. The city was not alone in its efforts and was joined by Middlesbrough, Calderdale Borough Council, Yorkshire, Lewisham and Hastings councils, who passed similar motions in support of the campaign in response to the activity and energy generated by local Month of Action events.
After an extensive month of campaigning we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved in the series of the events that took place and endorsed the campaign. Our efforts were heard all over the UK, with the campaign gaining support from local MPs, AMs, MSPs and councillors, as well as receiving backing from the Core Cities Network. The campaign made its way into the House of Commons during oral questions, and echoed its way into the House of Lords.
While we continue to make strong progress with the campaign, we’re aware that we have not yet achieved our goal of Lifting the Ban on the right to work for asylum seekers. This July, along with 38 refugee and migration organisations, we submitted a joint letter to the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, outlining the current issues within the UK immigration and asylum system that included highlighting the right to work. We will ensure that Lift the Ban stays high on the new Home Secretary’s agenda.
We will be in touch shortly with our coalition members and supporters to discuss our next plan of action.
Please continue joining us in our efforts to spread the word about the campaign by following one of these actions:
- Take part in the social media conversation using #LiftTheBan and share the resources above with your networks.
- Sign the petition calling on the Home Secretary to lift the ban.
- If you represent an organisation, business, think tank, or other organised group, why not join the Lift the Ban Coalition? Email us on [email protected]
- For more ideas on how you can help download the Lift the Ban Activism Pack – we need people to talk to their local MPs, get in touch with local media, host events and gather petition signatures in order to secure change.