Asylum Matters Advocacy Update – 13 October 2021

Our fortnightly summary of ongoing advocacy initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.

  1. Ongoing advocacy

Scrap the #AntiRefugeeBill – Week of Action! 

Next week local organisations, grassroots groups and activists will be coming together for a Week of Action to oppose the anti-refugee bill, just as the Bill reaches its next crucial stage in Parliament. By mobilising resistance in towns and cities up and down the country, we can demonstrate that the harmful proposals in the bill do not represent the culture of welcome in our local communities.

A number of exciting events are planned across the UK – from a high street stall in Birmingham talking to the public, a welcome event with local leaders in Halifax, a briefing event for Welsh MPs and MSs, to a rally in Coventry – you can find more details here. And it’s not too late to organise your own event / activity / action if nothing is happening locally yet! 

You can use the resources that Asylum Matters has produced to support your events, including:

  • Materials to help brand and badge your event – available in this folder – this includes artwork for stickers, badges, placards and postcards, with both ‘Together with Refugees’ orange hearts and ‘Scrap the #AntiRefugeeBill’ messaging. Our Campaigns Managers will have hard copies of all these resources, so get in touch if you’d like to order some for your event. 

  • Social media guidance to help you get the word out about the events and activities you’re taking part in to ensure they’re all linked up as part of a wider movement to stand #TogetherWithRefugees and campaign against the #AntiRefugeeBill.

Refugees Welcome Rally 20th October

The rally in Parliament Square in London, in the middle of the Week of Action, is open to all and the organisers have created some great visual social media resources you can use to advertise it. You can find more details on the event’s facebook page. Some of the Asylum Matters team will be there on the day with ‘Scrap the Anti-Refugee Bill’ placards – so come and say hello and grab a placard!

Lift the Ban: increased calls for the right to work and new content to share

The last few weeks have seen further support from across the political spectrum on the right to work. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has stated that he would be “open-minded” about giving people seeking asylum the right to work, and other prominent Tory voices have since come out in support of lifting the ban, leading to a split at Cabinet level about right to work for people seeking asylum.  

Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer has once more come out in strong support of lifting the ban in an interview with The Guardian; while at the Labour Party Conference, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas Symonds confirmed that Labour will be putting down an amendment on right to work in the Nationality & Borders Bill. 

This cross-party support comes alongside a renewed call in The Times from two leading industry voices for the UK Government to revise the rules – Lift The Ban coalition members the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and the Association of Labour Providers have published a joint op-ed calling for people seeking asylum to have the right to work. Other recent media coverage of the campaign includes the latest column from The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, and interviews on BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC and BBC Radio 2.

The coalition has issued two new videos to highlight the coalition’s latest findings on right to work (see more below) – please help spread the word by posting these on your social media platforms; or share the Refugee Action and Asylum Matters tweets. 

The videos cover two new pieces of research – the first is an update of the coalition’s financial analysis of how much lifting the ban would save the Treasury. We found that reform of the rules could generate over £180m a year, and could be as high as £650m a year. The second is new opinion polling of constituencies across the country, which shows that overall 71% of the public believes it’s time to lift the ban; a result that is replicated in individual seats right across the country. For further details please contact [email protected].

One Strong Voice action at Conservative Party Conference

One Strong Voice, a coalition of refugee and migrant campaigners, used the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester last week to launch their spoof newspaper ‘the Metbo’, sharing stories from an alternative UK where the Government welcomes refugees and treats people seeking asylum with dignity and humanity. You can watch and share the video of this action here

Free Movement have published a transcript and overview of the Home Secretary’s speech at the Conference, which contained no new policy announcements on asylum but restated the Government’s determination to enact the harmful measures in the Nationality and Borders Bill and the New Plan for Immigration. 

Hassockfield Detention Centre: legal challenge and protest

National and local campaigning against plans to open an Immigration Removal Centre at the former Hassockfield secure unit in County Durham continues, with a local resident launching a legal challenge against the plans. 

On Saturday 16th October there will be a protest at the Hassockfield site, from 12pm-2pm, organised by three local groups campaigning against Hassockfield: No to Hassockfield, Abolish Detention – Hassockfield, and Durham People’s Assembly. Women for Refugee Women is supporting the protest and if you are interested in attending the protest, you can email Gemma Lousley at [email protected].

  1. Research and reports

Impact of inadmissibility rules

Afghan citizens are among thousands of people seeking asylum in the UK whose claim for protection is being delayed as the Home Office insists it first has to consider whether the claims are ‘admissible’ because they travelled through a third ‘safe’ country, The Ferret has reported. The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Refugee Council.  

  1. Home Office and Government developments

Updated Afghanistan country guidance

The Home Office has now published its updated country guidance on Afghanistan, following the collapse of the country’s government in August and consequent humanitarian crisis. Detailed analysis of the two new sets of guidance can be viewed in this helpful piece on Free Movement.

High Court Ruling on support payments in hotels

The High Court has ruled the Home Office’s decision to prevent asylum seekers living in hotels from receiving money to call friends and family during the pandemic was unlawful, meaning the Government could be forced to backdate the weekly payments.

Home Office offshoring proposals

Leaked Home Office proposals to send people seeking asylum to Albania while their claims for protection are processed have been dismissed by the Albanian Government

A legal opinion commissioned by Freedom From Torture has found that numerous aspects of the UK Government’s plans in the Nationality and Borders Bill breach domestic and/or international law.

Equality and the UK Asylum Process – parliamentary inquiry and call for evidence

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee is examining the fairness of the UK asylum process, looking at the experiences of people seeking asylum who have a range of protected characteristics (as defined in the UK’s Equality Act).

The Committee is seeking evidence about the nature and extent of asylum claims from people with diverse characteristics and different groups’ experiences of the asylum process in the UK. It will assess how far the Government is able to address discrimination or specific dangers for those with protected characteristics within the existing system. The inquiry will also consider any early evidence about people’s experiences of the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme. The deadline for submissions is 8th November 2021. You can find more information on the inquiry here

4. Resources, events, jobs and training

  • City of Sanctuary guidance – welcoming a person with lived experience to speak: City of Sanctuary has put together useful guidance in consultation with the Sanctuary Ambassador network to ensure that invitations for people with lived experience to speak are positive and constructive experiences for all those involved. 
  • Refugee Action Good Practice Project resource – handbook: UK immigration options for Afghan citizens: The Good Practice Project’s handbook looks at what the Afghanistan crisis means for the status of Afghans in the UK and gives an overview of the immigration and nationality applications that Afghan citizens may be able to make.

  • Asylos Afghanistan information: The latest edition of the Afghanistan Country of Origin Information (COI) repository is now available.

  • Peer to peer coaching/mentoring and access to leadership talks for people with lived experience in Wales: ella Forums is collaborating with the Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) to establish two Bright Futures Forums in Wales, providing coaching and mentoring groups for people with lived experience as a refugee. To be eligible for the Bright Futures Forum membership, you must be based in Wales, have lived experience as a refugee, be in employment, and have your employer’s approval to join.

  • Migrants Organise training on immigration and complex mental health: This Migrants Mental Capacity Advocacy (MMCA) project training series will look into the issue of mental health in the immigration and connected welfare systems. There will be five different online training sessions from 28th October – 9th December 2021. You can find more information and register here. 

Jobs

  1. What we’ve been reading and listening to

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