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.
Stop accommodation centres
Despite the World Health Organisation’s condemnation of the increased use of asylum processing centres globally, the UK Government has reportedly earmarked six former military sites to become accommodation centres for up to 30,000 people seeking safety. Home Office officials have said the sites will go ahead if the proposed centre for 1,500 people at Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire can be ‘shown to work’.
Hambleton District Council has received a response from the Home Office in response to pre-action correspondence on the Linton site. The local MP Kevin Hollinrake has shared a letter to the immigration minister, citing the backing of all Conservative leadership candidates, calling on the Government to postpone any decisions on the plans; while the Linton Action Group continues to campaign against accommodation centres.
On 19th July, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill committee considered Clause 97, which gives the Government two new routes for development on Crown land without consulting local communities. Committee member Matthew Pennycock MP highlighted that “Our concern is that the powers provided for by the clause will facilitate […] the driving through of centres such as the one in Linton-on-Ouse, regardless of their impact on the people placed in them or the local communities in which they are situated.” The Bill will now proceed to Third Reading following parliamentary recess.
Take action! People seeking asylum should be housed in communities, not camps. Write to your MP using our template letter to call on them to oppose accommodation centres — it takes just two minutes! If you prefer, you can download and adapt the letter as a document from our website, where we have also shared an FAQ on accommodation centres.
Fight the anti-refugee laws
As the Conservative leadership contest continues, both candidates have set out increasingly cruel immigration policies. Rishi Sunak has published a ‘10-point plan’ which includes tightening the definition of who qualifies for asylum, while Liz Truss has said she would seek to establish Rwanda-style deals with more countries.
It’s clear that we need as many people as possible to speak up for a different approach. Write to your MP to ask them to add their voice to the Fight The Anti-Refugee Laws pledge.
The pledge has now been signed by almost 40 MPs and over 400 organisations across the UK, and remains open to signature for organisations and individuals. Please continue to share the social media content, and if you’d like to order resources please get in touch or use the print-ready materials.
Fly With Me
A quick reminder of the upcoming project from the Good Chance Theatre, Fly With Me, bringing together Afghan artists in locations across the UK and Europe on 20th August to mark the one year since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Good Chance Theatre, the group behind the Walk With Amal, have included the Fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws pledge as the key campaign action for the project.
You can promote the launch on twitter, instagram and facebook; or find assets here to post yourself.
Judges have ruled that the High Court Challenges to the Rwanda policy will begin on 5th September, and also heard that several people seeking asylum who the Government intended to be removed to Rwanda have been identified as potential victims of trafficking.
Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has written to the Home Secretary raising concerns over the UK-Rwanda agreement, including the safety of people removed to Rwanda and people having the adequate opportunity to challenge their removal.
Care 4 Calais has a round-up on its website of the latest news about the challenge and the ways you can support the campaign. City of Sanctuary has suggested tweets and social media resources you can use to contact the candidates on social media; while Freedom from Torture has created a petition you can sign calling on Conservative leadership candidates to scrap the Rwanda scheme.
In response to the Government’s move towards a new system of ‘assumed’ asylum dispersal, in which all Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to be expected to join the asylum dispersal system, Refugees for Justice have shared a proposal for asylum support and accommodation in Scotland to be managed by Scottish public service providers, rather than private companies. You can find the full proposal here and the statement and list of supporters here.
Home Office and Government developments
Independent reports on small boats and Border Force
The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigfration (ICIBI) has published a new report on small boat arrivals, concluding that the Home Office’s current approach is “ineffective and inefficient” and leaves vulnerable people at risk. The Chief Inspector himself has also voiced concern at the Home Secretary’s lack of engagement and avoidance of statutory checks on her performance.
The independent review of Border Force by the former Australian immigration minister Alexander Downer has also been published and found the organisation was operating at a “suboptimal level”. Regarding what it refers to as “the small boats migration threat”, it concludes that Border Force has so far been “ineffective and possibly counter-productive in preventing these journeys” and recommends it should no longer provide a search and rescue function in the Channel; that third country processing is fully implemented, and calls for a deal with France.
Asylum support rates review – deadline extension
The Home Office has launched its annual review of asylum support rates, and has asked voluntary sector organisations to contribute their views through the National Asylum Stakeholder Forum (NASF) support subgroup. Last year’s review resulted in the support rate increasing by £1.22 (or 3.1%) a week to £40.85. The deadline for submissions has been extended to 11th August. The Asylum Matters team has created a document featuring toplines and recommendations which partners are welcome to use to support their response to the review – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Evidence on Family Migration
On 20 July, the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee published a call for written evidence on UK family migration policies as part of its ongoing inquiry. See the website for important guidance on how to submit written evidence. The deadline for submissions is 15th September 2022.
Reports and research
Refugee Council’s Lives on Hold report
Refugee Council has published a new report, ‘Lives on Hold: The Experiences of People in Hotel Accommodation’, which reveals how the use of hotels to house people seeking asylum trebled in 2021, despite Home Office pledges to end its use and strong evidence of the harm it causes. The report gained coverage in the Guardian and GB News.
New report ‘Confronting Injustice: Race and the Environmental Emergency’
Runnymede Trust and Greenpeace UK have published a new report, ‘Confronting Injustice: Race and the Environmental Emergency’, which evidences how the environmental emergency is rooted in systemic racism, an essential link to recognise for anyone working to protect the rights of displaced people.
Call for evidence: After Exploitation research into Home Office misuse of data
After Exploitation is working with the Centre for Public Data to raise concerns about the Home Office’s misuse of immigration and modern slavery data, specifically concerning its concealment of centrally held data from the wider public. Input is sought from anyone with experience of using Home Office statistics in their advocacy, particularly in relation to the sufficiency of the current data offering; Freedom of Information Requests; Parliamentary Questions, particularly in relation to the level of satisfaction with the Government’s responses. Evidence will be compiled until 10th August. For more information please contact Maya Esslemont at email@example.com.
Rainbow Migration – focus group participants wanted for LGBTQI+ asylum comms
Rainbow Migration is carrying out research into how it can improve its communications messages, to be able to talk clearly about the particular barriers and discrimination LGBTQI+ people who are seeking asylum face, and how solutions might inspire more people to support their work. If you are a UK resident who is LGBTQI+ or an ally who would like to give feedback, the team is running one-hour online focus groups. More info and sign up form here.
Refugee Action is looking for a Community and Events Fundraising Manager (Maternity Cover), deadline 9th August; as well as a Project Coordinator – CARE West Midlands Project (deadline 15th August) and a Policy and Research Manager (deadline 15th August)
Asylum Welcome is recruiting for a Communications Coordinator (deadline 10th August), a Caseworker (deadline 16th August) and a Sanctuary Hosting Manager (deadline 23rd August).
City of Sanctuary UK is looking for a Regional Coordinator for Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East of England, deadline 5th September.
Unbound Philanthropy is recruiting for a UK Program Coordinator, deadline 7th September.
What we’ve been listening to
CARAG’s Still We Rise Podcast speaks to Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, about the UK Government’s regressive Bill of Rights.
Welcome to Rwanda on BBC Sounds – Rwandan-born journalist Victoria Uwonkunda, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, weighs up the Home Office’s claims that Rwanda is a safe place for refugees.