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. Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Following on from their Home Affairs Committee session exposing overcrowding, prolonged detention and public health concerns at the ‘short-term holding facility’ at Manston, Kent, MPs from the Committee visited the camp and spoke to families who had been sleeping on the floor in marquees for weeks. There was very sad news over the weekend of a man who was at the Manston site falling ill and later dying in hospital. The case has been referred to the coroner and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
People have been moved at pace from the Manston site into hotels, and it was reported yesterday, that the facility is now empty. Meanwhile, a number of local authorities have mounted or been considering legal action to prevent hotel sites from opening in their area. The Express has reported the Government is considering the use of holiday camps, student halls and cruise ships in which to place people seeking safety.
Asylum Matters has produced a set of unbranded resources (twitter banners, logos, illustrations, facebook cover images) that call for #CommunitiesNotCamps. The resources can be accessed in this folder for download / use with your own tweets and social posts – please make use of them!
We’ve also produced a new briefing on asylum accommodation and quasi-detention. This references a clause (current Clause 97) in the current Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which reaches Report Stage in the House of Commons this week. This Clause, if it remains in the Bill, will allow the Government to avoid consulting local people on plans for controversial developments on Crown Land in England, such as large-scale asylum ‘accommodation’ or immigration detention centres. You can find the briefing here, and we encourage you to send it to your MP
Lift the Ban High Street Challenge
Support for the right to work for people seeking asylum has always been strong among the business community. To demonstrate the scale of support at a local level, the Lift the Ban campaign is now calling on local businesses across the UK to show their support by becoming a Business Ally.
We’ve created new resources to help campaigners go out and win business support in their local area, including: a step-by-step guide to bringing businesses on board, as well as social media guidance, in our new High Street Challenge Handbook; as well as posters and flyers to distribute; template letters for approaching businesses and decision makers; and a template press release to help spread the word.
There has been significant recent coverage of the arguments for the right to work in the media, including an article in PoliticsHome outlining the difficulties of the current system, with an impassioned plea from a father to let him work; a piece by former Minister James Bethell in Conservative Home; and powerful pieces by experts by experience Arash, in the Vet Times, and Fatima, in MyLondon. Meanwhile, the coalition delivered a giant cheque to the Chancellor, representing the money the Treasury could be saving.
Remembering the one year anniversary of the Channel tragedy
The one year anniversary of the Channel Crossings tragedy is this week, on Thursday 24th Nov. Together With Refugees have put together some powerful social media graphics so that we may remember and honour the people who tragically lost their lives. Here are the graphics of the names of the people who lost their lives, they have provided some suggested social media messages below. They ask that we please wait to share until the day of the anniversary – Thursday 24th November. N.B. Care for Calais provided the list of names and figures. The families have consented for the names to be used in the graphics.
Suggested social media messages:
A year ago today 32 people lost their lives trying to reach UK shores.
Behind the headlines are mothers, fathers, sons & daughters. People like you.
Today we remember them.
Lessons must be learnt. We need safe routes for those in dire need of protection.
Folkestone candle lit vigil to remember those who have lost their lives in the Channel
The vigil will be held on 24th Nov at 6:00 pm on Sunny Sands Beach. It is being organised in coordination with vigils in Dunkirk and Paris. With the support of SOAS Detainee Support. Also supported by Kent Refugee Action Network, Folkestone Mosque, Churches Together Folkestone, Napier Friends, Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats, Shepway Green Party, and Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party. For more info see here.
Asylum Support and the cost of living
The cost of living crisis is impacting people across the country, those people living on asylum support are majorly affected as the cost of essential items increases. This is highlighted in this recent Independent article and in the local media, in Birmingham, the North East and London. If you want to pitch a similar story on this issue in the local media in your area we have a press release you can use and are happy to help. Contact [email protected]
2. Home Office and Government developments
Channel crossing UK/France deal
The UK will pay France £8m more a year under a revised deal to try to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats. The money will pay for increased surveillance of French beaches, while UK police officers will also be able to observe patrols within France. The deal was criticised by MPs, unions and refugee groups.
ICIBI inspection of the Afghan resettlement schemes
The ICIBI has issued a ‘call for evidence’ via the ICIBI website. This inspection will examine the effectiveness, efficiency and consistency of the Home Office’s processing of applications to Afghan resettlement schemes. To note, this inspection will not focus on decision making by the MOD/FCDO, accommodation issues or family reunion applications. The call for evidence will be open for responses until 27 November 2022. This call for evidence will trial a new system for responses using a simple and secure online webform.
United Nations Human Rights Council Review
Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council made the recommendation on Thursday that the UK should make sure its “treatment of asylum seekers complies with international laws.” During the periodic review, a process which takes place every four years, the Netherlands said the Government should “revoke parts of the migration economic development partnership which do not comply with the 1951 Refugee Convention”.
3. Reports and research
Yougov research on Channel crossings
Yougov have released research on where the public stand in relation to small boat crossings and the asylum system.
Independent Inquiry into the Park Inn tragedy
The focus of this Inquiry is events that occurred in April 2020, in Glasgow, at the beginning of the first major COVID-19 lockdown, when 321 people seeking asylum were removed from their homes. The report found that the knife attack in a hotel that was housing asylum seekers during the Covid lockdown was an “avoidable tragedy”. Read the full report here.
MedAct report – The Medical Consequences of “Contingency Accommodation” for People Seeking Asylum
This newly published report contains new insights from doctors, nurses, health workers, and refugee advocates from across the UK, the report provides a rapid snapshot of the conditions for refugees and asylum seekers living in contingency accommodation.
4. Resources, events, jobs & training
Maternity Action – Unheard London: migrant and asylum seeking mothers and the cost of living crisis
Migrant and asylum seekers who are pregnant or new mothers are ignored in public debates about the cost of living crisis. This London focussed seminar, on 29th November from 10am -12.30pm, will explore the specific barriers to obtaining assistance across the different forms of support and the unacceptably low levels of financial and other help provided to those who do qualify. In this very difficult political environment, what are the priorities for campaigning? For more information and how to sign up click here.
Book Launch – I was not born a sad poet
The poetry book ‘I was not born a sad poet’, by Loraine Masiya Mponela is a reflection of Loraine’s experiences going through the UK Asylum and Immigration system. The event will take place on Saturday 26th November 2022 at The Herbert Arts Gallery and Museum, Coventry CV1 5QP from 12:30PM-15:30PM. For more info and to register for the event click here.
JCWI resource for undocumented people – routes to status
This page aims to provide a simple explainer of the different routes that people who have fallen out of status can take to regain regular status. They are hoping to get it translated into relevant community languages soon.
STAR – Fighting the UK’s Anti-Refugee Laws Online Panel Event November 29th 17:00 – 18:15
This online panel event will be discussing the current policy and treatment of refugees in the UK and how we can fight back. It’s aimed at students, but also anyone who would be studying but is unable to do so due to their immigration status. More info and tickets can be booked on eventbrite.
- Sahir House in Liverpool are recruiting for an LGBTQ+ community worker, deadline 28 November
- Women Asylum Seekers Together in Manchester are recruiting a Development Manager to support the next stage of their development. Deadline 5 December, details here
- Community Arts North West are recruiting two part time assistant creative producers in to help them mount the Horizons festival. People with lived experience of migration particularly encouraged to apply. Deadline 0900 12 December
- JCWI are recruiting a new Chair of Executive Committee, on a rolling basis
- Doctors of the World UK is recruiting for a new Executive Director. The role will be leading a small staff team that runs clinical services across England and campaigns with patients to protect the right to healthcare. Closing date is Monday 5th December.
- Detention Action are looking for a Philanthropy Manager (Trusts & Major Donors). The deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 28th November.
- Bristol Refugee Rights is hiring a new CEO. Deadline Monday 12th December
- STAR are recruiting an Access to University Project Coordinator and a new Chair of Trustees. All info here.
5. What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to
- This article outlines the policy change from asylum accommodation being the responsibility of local authorities to contracts being handed to private companies and the impact this has had on asylum accommodation.
- Welcome letters and welcome cards written by pupils at Birmingham Schools of Sanctuary to new hotel occupants in their city, and the response of the local community in Carlisle to support new arrivals whose luggage was lost in transit.
- A distressing ITV documentary, part of the award-winning Exposure series, has gained access to documents which provide new evidence about the fatal journey of the 34 passengers onboard the overcrowded dinghy that crossed the Channel almost a year ago. For those who find it too difficult to watch here is some media coverage of it.