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
Incident at Knowsley hotel
In the aftermath of the recent incident at the hotel in Knowsley, one man who is accommodated there has written a powerful piece in The Metro on his experience; while the local MP has made clear these actions do not represent the community’s values. Meanwhile, as further far-right demonstrations have taken place across the country, the Independent has looked at how extremists fuelled the riot with misinformation and rumour.
City of Sanctuary has shared a template write to MP action reminding parliamentarians that hostile words lead to hostile action; while a joint letter by Migrants’ Rights Network and Community Policy Forum on the role of the far-right, Islamophobia and racism in attacks on asylum seekers has been published in The Guardian and can be shared on Twitter and Instagram.
Plans for a Pontins site at Camber Sands to be used to accommodate people seeking asylum have been scrapped, with the leader of Rother District Council, which owns the freehold for the site, welcoming the “sensible” decision.
Families Together Mother’s Day Action
To mark Mother’s Day, the Families Together coalition is raising awareness of refugee children who are separated from their families due to the UK’s unfair family reunion rules. The coalition is asking campaigners to create their own Mother’s Day cards and send them to their MPs, and have shared a step-by-step guide; and will also be sharing a digital card and campaigns video shortly.
Covid-19 inquiry and structural racism
Runnymede and the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group have convened a joint letter to Lady Hallett, the Chair of the Covid-19 inquiry, to call on her to ensure structural racism is examined as a key issue at every stage of the inquiry. Signatories to the letter, including Asylum Matters, point out that people from minority ethnic backgrounds disproportionately contracted, and died from, Covid-19 during the pandemic.
Government and parliamentary updates
Streamlined asylum applications
The Home Office has announced a new fast track process for asylum claims made before 28 June 2022 (“legacy cases”) that are not classed as inadmissible, for people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The process will involve people being asked to fill a questionnaire, instead of attending a substantive interview, and forms must be filled in within 20 days. The letter confirming this process is attached to this email for information.
The full guidance for Home Office staff is available here, while the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner has released a statement on the streamlined process, which states that the forms must be completed by people who are OISC Level 2 advisers. The announcement has received extensive media coverage, while organisations across the asylum sector have raised serious concerns about the process, particularly around the short deadline, difficulties in accessing legal advice, and the lack of translated questionnaires.
UK Immigration Statistics
Last week the Home Office released the latest immigration statistics for the year ending December 2022. Key figures include:
There were 74,751 asylum applications in the UK in 2022, and 18,699 initial decisions made.
75% of initial decisions made in 2022 were grants of protection, while 44% of asylum appeals were allowed.
The backlog has reached another record high, with 160,919 people waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum. Of those people, 68% (109,641 people) have been waiting for more than 6 months.
The Refugee Council has a useful breakdown of the statistics here.
Chief Inspector of Borders report on family reunion applications
The Chief Inspector of Borders has published a critical report on the reinspection of family reunion applications September to October 2022. The inspection found that there is a backlog of 8,000 undecided applications, and highlighted that “the lack of an effective family reunion route carries with it the risk that vulnerable people will resort to dangerous journeys to join their family members in the UK”. The report was covered in the Independent and can be viewed in full here.
Reports and research
LGBTQI+ people’s experiences of immigration detention: A pilot study
A new report from the University of Brighton published for Rainbow Migration finds that LGBTQI+ people are at serious risk of suffering verbal and physical harm in immigration detention in the UK.
New Kalayaan report: The National Referral Mechanism: Near Breaking Point
Kalayaan has published a new report, The National Referral Mechanism: Near Breaking Point, which lays bare the pressures facing First Responder Organisations and the resultant impact and dangers that survivors of trafficking and slavery face.
4. Resources, events, jobs & training
STAR Scholarships Information Session
STAR is running an information session at 5pm on Thursday 2 March for people seeking asylum and refugees who are applying to university and would like to find out more about student finance and sanctuary scholarships. You can register here.
Challenge the Checks Online Workshop
The Migrants’ Rights Network, Migrants at Work and the Open Rights Group have launched the Challenge the Checks campaign to uncover the negative effects of enforcing immigration law in the workplace. They are holding an online workshop 10.30am to 12.30pm on Thursday 2 March. You can register here.
Conference on NHS Charging
Maternity Action and the Legal Action Group are holding an online NHS charging conference on Friday 3 March between 10am-1 pm. The conference will cover how the charging system is currently operating and plans for challenging the regulations. You can register here.
MEX online panel discussion on Ukraine and welcome, one year on
Migration Exchange is hosting an online discussion event on Friday 3 March, 1.30–3.30 pm to explore the ramifications of the UK response to people fleeing Ukraine, one year on. You can register for the event here.
The impacts of the 10-year route: research launch
Praxis, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) will share findings from new research into the impacts of the ten-year route to settlement on people’s lives in a webinar on 7 March, 10-11.30am. Sign up here.
Right to Remain Knowledge is Power Toolkit Workshop
Right to Remain is running an online workshop between 10-12.30am on Tuesday 14 March 2023 where people can learn about how best to use the Right to Remain Toolkit, the stages of the asylum system, and how to support people going through the asylum and immigration system without giving legal advice. Sign up here.
Stateless Journeys campaign webinar series
This webinar series will look at identifying and addressing statelessness within the refugee context organised under the #StatelessJourneys campaign at the European Network on Statelessness (ENS). You can register here for the first webinar, which takes place on Wednesday 8 March between 12-12.45 pm.
ILPA is hiring a Training Manager, closing date 1 March.
STAR is recruiting a new Student Network Organiser, closing date 6 March.
Doctors of the World UK is looking for a Policy and Advocacy Manager -Participation Lead, closing date 6 March.
Room to Heal is recruiting its new Director, closing date 6 March.
Young Roots is recruiting a Senior Caseworker, closing date 13 March.
5. What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to
An interview with the amazing Pinar Aksu as part of BBC Scotland’s ‘The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland’
Excellent analysis by Daniel Trilling in the Guardian following the violence at Knowsley.
This powerful clip of Lou Calvey on talkTV on the right to work.
Free Movement’s overview of the New Asylum Streamlined Process.