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.
Asylum Matters – join us as a trustee!
Asylum Matters is seeking to further strengthen our board through the appointment of three new trustees, each with knowledge, experience and insight into at least one of the following areas:
- Lived experience of the UK asylum system
- Working in a frontline organisation providing direct advice and support to people seeking asylum and/or refugees
- Local and/or national campaigning, advocacy, influencing and/or organising
Trustees are a vital part of our organisation and this is an exciting opportunity to help us shape our work. We are holding an online information session for potential applicants to ask us any questions about the role or application process on Wednesday 26 October at 1pm. For further information and how to apply, please see our website.
- Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Anti-Refugee Laws / Rwanda
Following the Home Secretary’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference (more details below), in which she said that she would ‘make it clear that the only route to the United Kingdom is a safe and legal route’, and remarked in a fringe event that it was her ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’ to see a plane taking off to Rwanda, lived experience coalition ‘One Strong Voice’ produced this video of a stunt outside Conservative Party conference, and disrupted an international aviation conference in Amsterdam to tell industry professionals to stop the flights. Campaigners branded the Home Secretary’s plans as ‘barbaric and unlawful’. Campaigning on Rwanda continues, with Safe Passage running a ‘write to your MP’ action, Care4Calais suggesting actions to #StopRwanda, and Together With Refugees continuing to run the ‘Fill the Skies With Hope’ action.
Calling on Local Authorities to fight the Anti-Refugee Laws: webinar 18th October
Groups and organisations are taking action across the UK to fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws by calling on their Local Authorities to take a stand against these cruel measures. We’ve produced these resources, including a template motion and a template press release, to support you in working with your local representatives. Join us for an online event and discussion on 18th October at 1300, with speakers including Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, to find out more about this campaign, and share ideas and experiences.
#LiftTheBan: coalition gathering 2 November
The Lift The Ban campaign will hold a face-to-face gathering for coalition members in London on Wednesday 2 November – 11.30-5pm. We hope that as many members of the coalition as possible can join us to celebrate how far we’ve come and plan our next steps towards lifting the ban on working for people seeking asylum. Please note that we can provide financial support to ensure expert by experience campaigners are able to attend. You can watch a short film from our last coalition gathering in March 2020 here.
If you are not coalition members but are interested in joining us and want to come to the event to learn more contact [email protected] for information. We are always looking for new members!
Protestors from the Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed staged a protest to show the strength of local opposition to Home Office plans to re-open the centre, in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, by the end of 2023, and to call for companies not to get involved in the plans.
Praxis are running a campaign to shorten routes to settlement for people in the immigration system, and tackle exorbitant renewal fees. More details here.
- Home Office and Government Developments
Conservative Party Conference – Home Secretary’s speech
Home Secretary Suella Braverman pledged in her main Conservative Party Conference speech to ‘make the Rwanda scheme work’, do more ‘to get asylum seekers out of hotels’, and ‘take back control’ from the European Court of Human Rights. She alleged ‘abuse’ of modern slavery laws and stated she would look to bring forward yet more legislation to make it clear that anyone arriving ‘illegally from a safe country’ should be ‘swiftly returned to your home country or relocated to Rwanda’. UNHCR have said any blanket ban on people seeking asylum in the UK ‘would almost certainly breach the Refugee Convention’. Coverage here and here.
The Mail carried a report that Ministers are working to institute a system of ‘Nightingale courts’ to prosecute ‘huge numbers’ of those crossing the Channel as well as ‘Nightingale style detention centres to house those jailed under the plan’.
Linton-on-Ouse – Serco Contract
BBC News has obtained a confidential document revealing that Serco’s contract for Linton-on-Ouse was worth £32.8 million, with an ‘unknown amount’ of compensation still to be paid to the company after MoD permission for use of the site was withdrawn. A Home Office spokesperson said ‘The Government will continue to identify appropriate sites for Greek style asylum reception centres.’ See coverage here or watch BBC Politics North (from 28.49)
- Reports and research
The Refugee Council has published: Identity Crisis: how the age dispute process puts refugee children at risk to highlight the dangerous practice of determining the age of young asylum seekers at the UK border, whilst Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit has published I’m terrified: the dangers of Home Office Age Assessments for Children in the North West, highlighting how children wrongly deemed adults in the region are subject to the cruelties of the anti-refugee laws. Coverage here and here.
National Refugee Strategy
The Refugee Studies Centre has co-authored a new report with the Refugee Council, Baroness Philippa Stroud (CEO of the Legatum Institute), and Will Somerville (UK Director of Unbound Philanthropy), which outlines what a national refugee policy could look like.
Trafficking victims in detention
A new report from Helen Bamber Foundation, Medical Justice, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit and Focus on Labour Exploitation, highlights the government’s failure to identify victims of trafficking, leaving them trapped in immigration detention.
RAMFEL Report – The Hostile Environment Remains in Place
This report explores how potentially tens of thousands of lawfully resident migrants in the UK are wrongly being suspended from work, seeing benefits wrongly curtailed and being denied access to other basic state and non-state services due to spending periods in the country without a physical visa document.
- Resources, events, jobs and training
NEON Spokesperson Network
Toolkit for social workers on NRPF
Project 17 in collaboration with the University of Plymouth, the BASW Immigration, Asylum and Trafficking Special Interest Group, and the Institute for Community Research and Development at the University of Wolverhampton are launching a new toolkit for social workers who support children subject to the NRPF rule on 31 October at 1300. Register here.
STAR advice sessions on applying to University
In November, STAR are running an online programme to support refugees and people seeking asylum who are applying to university. The first session is on Tuesday 1st November 5-6.30pm. More info and register here.
- ASAP is looking for a women’s legal advisor (closing 16 Oct)
- The Welsh Refugee Coalition is recruiting a coalition coordinator (closing 17 Oct)
- ILPA is recruiting a content / digital manager (closing 17 Oct)
- Deighton Pierce Glynn are looking for a paralegal (closing 17 Oct) and a Housing Solicitor (closing 29 Oct)
- Refugee Futures is searching for a new director (closing 26 Oct)
- West London Welcome are looking for trustees (closing 29 Oct)
- The Boaz Trust are looking for a Support Worker (maternity cover) and Floating Support Worker (closing 31 Oct)
- City of Sanctuary are recruiting a Wales Coordinator (closing 7 Nov)
- What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to