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.
Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Children going missing from Home Office hotels
Following appalling reports that dozens of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been kidnapped from a Brighton hotel run by the Home Office, a Home Office Minister has admitted that 200 children have gone missing from hotels since July 2021. In response, the Refugee Council and Every Child Protected Against Trafficking have coordinated a joint letter to the Prime Minister calling for the Home Office to stop accommodating separated children in hotels.
The Refugee Council has created a write to MP action (which you can share on social media here). The Helen Bamber Foundation has shared a blog looking at why children are going missing and what needs to change to ensure all children are protected.
Communities not Camps
The Guardian has reported details of a £70 million anticipated contract from the Home Office, for asylum accommodation centres. Meanwhile, Ahmed who spent 25 days in Manston has recounted outbreaks of disease, the deterioration in mental health and the uncertainty he experienced in his time in the camp, saying “It was the worst days of my life”.
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 and use with your own tweets and social posts, so feel free to make full use of them!
City of Sanctuary and Together With Refugees have launched a Valentine’s Day-themed ‘Show Your Heart’ action, to encourage people to show their support for refugees and reject the UK Government’s cruel Rwanda scheme. Campaigners are urged to display orange hearts, and write to and tweet Valentines cards with Rwanda-themed messages to the Prime Minister and to their MP. This follows Together with Refugee protesters who last week took part in an open top bus protest around Parliament, calling for the Rwanda plan to be scrapped.
A new survey carried out by Care 4 Calais has found that nearly half the people facing removal to Rwanda are married, a fifth have children, and most are from countries where more than 80% of people have had their refugee status recognised by the UK.
Calls for UK Government to reunite Afghan families
Nearly eighteen months since Operation Pitting, Safe Passage and over 100 Afghan activists and organisations have written to the Prime Minister calling on the Government to help Afghans evacuated to the UK bring their families to join them in safety. Right to Remain has published a new blog looking at what has gone wrong with the resettlement schemes.
Migrant Workers’ Pledge
Trade unions have signed a Migrant Workers’ Pledge coordinated by the JCWI. The 21 organisations said all workers in the UK deserve “safety at work, decent pay and protection”. You can find more info about the pledge here and share on Twitter and Facebook.
Windrush recommendations dropped
The Home Secretary has confirmed in a written statement that the UK Government will drop three key recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned review. These cover the creation of a migrants’ rights commissioner; running reconciliation events with those affected by the Windrush scandal; and providing greater powers to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI). Wendy Williams, who led the original inquiry, has criticised the decision, as did former Immigration Minister Kevin Foster; while the ICIBI David Neal has also voiced his regret and disappointment.
Reports and research
New asylum support rates briefing and blog
Asylum Matters has written a new briefing on asylum support rates which has up-to-date information about the December 2022 court case which triggered the recent increase to £45 per week (and £9.10 for those in full board accommodation). It also gives a background history of asylum support and ways it has been assessed over the years.
We know that in the current cost of living crisis this amount still does not cover essential living needs, and this briefing outlines the real terms cut in support over the years and the impact this has had on people living on asylum support.
Meanwhile, Refugee Action has published research in a new blog and twitter thread which highlights how far rates of support have fallen behind mainstream benefits over the past 15 years, while the cost of essential items has dramatically increased.
Just Fair Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
This month Just Fair launched its new report to the United Nations. It was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to prepare an independent parallel report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), on behalf of civil society in England and Wales, ahead of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR) next review of the UK.
The report, to which Asylum Matters contributed evidence on asylum support and the Lift the Ban coalition on the right to work, provides evidence of the UK’s current everyday rights such as food, housing, social security, work, health and education. Just Fair also created a companion guide to provide some background to the review process. For more information about the launch and next steps see the Just Fair blog.
Channel Crossings report
The Refugee Council has published a new briefing which shows that at least 60% of people who crossed the Channel by small boats last year will be likely to be granted refugee status. The research sets out that while the Government has announced its wish in future to detain anyone who crosses the Channel by small boat, 40% of those who arrived this way in 2022 are from just five countries, each experiencing conflict and oppression and with very high asylum grant rates.
Resources, events, jobs & training
Right to Remain Toolkit: flyers for hotel outreach
Right to Remain has flagged a growth in requests for workshops on the asylum system, but is unable to respond to all requests. Groups working with people accommodated in hotels are therefore encouraged to use this toolkit, reflecting on the 5 key things that help make it accessible and user-friendly. For flyers about the Toolkit for distribution in hotels, please contact [email protected].
New online portal with opportunities for displaced students
STAR, Refugee Education UK and the Universities of Sanctuary network have launched a new online portal, Displaced Student Opportunities UK, featuring opportunities that support refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK to access university. You can share on twitter here. Providers can add their opportunities here.
SMK Campaigner Survey
The latest SMK Annual Campaigner Survey, which tracks the experience of people involved in social change, is still open. You can complete the survey here. The closing date for responses is 1 February.
Launch of investigative reports into the UK-France Border
The Crossborder Forum is organising a launch event for two reports, newly translated in English on Thursday 2 February, 11–13:00 GMT. The reports provide a detailed account of 30 years of bilateral agreements between the UK and France. You can register for the meeting here.
IMIX is recruiting a Digital Communications Producer, deadline 6 February.
We Belong is hiring a Communications Officer, deadline 8 February.
ASAP is recruiting a Head of Legal, deadline 12 February.
Good Chance is recruiting a Production and Marketing Assistant as part of its Stage Door programme for young people (age 18-24) from refugee backgrounds. The deadline for application is 12 February.
The Epsom and Ewell Refugee Network is recruiting a coordinator, closing date 16 February.
The Refugee Council is recruiting for a Head of Asylum, deadline 19 February.
Sheffield City of Sanctuary is recruiting a Finance Officer, closing date is February 28.
What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to
Human Rights Watch has shared a statement on the UK abandoning its duties to refugees.
A useful webinar by Cornerstone Barristers about legal issues arising from use of hotels as asylum accommodation.
Inspiring BID panel discussion on resisting detention centres.