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
Communities Not Camps
As local residents continue to fight moves to warehouse people in camps, the High Court rejected an injunction brought by Braintree District Council in Essex to prevent the use of MDP Wethersfield as a camp under emergency planning laws, with permission granted to appeal.
A report commissioned on Wethersfield has found contamination at the Essex site; and similarly, at the proposed East Sussex site in Northeye, Bexhill, evidence of contamination by asbestos has been found. Residents’ group Save our Scampton have been campaigning in Lincoln in advance of planned protests and counter protests in the city.
Meanwhile, Merseyside Knows No Borders and others gathered outside the offices of Bibby Marine, one of Liverpool’s oldest companies to protest plans to use one of its barges to warehouse people seeking asylum. Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram stated that “any company that profiteers through inflicting misery through this dog whistle policy should take a long, hard look at themselves.”
In Parliament, peers debated a clause in the current Levelling Up Bill which it is feared will pave the way for the Government to circumvent planning laws on Crown Land in England for camps. You can read the full debate here.
Stop the Camps! Webinar for campaigners
A reminder that we are hosting a webinar at 2-3pm tomorrow (Thursday 27 April) to discuss these latest developments and bring together campaigners against the sites, with a particular focus on learning from what worked in the successful campaign against the proposed camp at Linton-on-Ouse last year. Please register to attend here and share the information with partners you believe would be interested.
Take action – write to your MP
Refugee Ban Bill
The Government’s Illegal Migration Bill – or #RefugeeBanBill – enters report stage in Parliament today, giving MPs an opportunity to suggest amendments prior to its third and final reading in the Commons. Amendments are expected to be proposed on safe and legal routes, modern slavery provisions, and on the detention of children and pregnant women, whilst the Government’s position on rulings from the European Court of Human Rights is also likely to feature.
Ministers have already tabled a number of new amendments to the Bill, including from Conservative backbenchers. Some of these are detailed on Free Movement. They include new clauses which would ban people from appealing a decision on the grounds of age assessment; and automatically treating as adults anyone who refuses to undergo scientific methods of age assessment.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has voiced its strong concerns that the legislation will breach the UK’s international legal obligations to protect human rights.
Over the weekend, Tynemouth Together With Refugees marched from Tynemouth to Whitley Bay to protest the Bill; and campaigners gathered in Halifax and Sheffield to demonstrate, supported by MP Olivia Blake who is working to table an amendment to the Bill for safe passage visas for people seeking safety. The Scottish Parliament has also passed a motion deeming the Bill “dehumanising and immoral”.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has started to hear a challenge to an earlier ruling about the lawfulness of the Rwanda scheme; and more than 830 UK health professionals and representatives from leading medical bodies have signed a letter expressing “grave concerns” that the Government’s plans will cause “catastrophic mental and physical harm” to people seeking safety.
Call on your local authority to fight the #AntiRefugeeLaws
Local Authorities have a vital role to play in demonstrating local and regional opposition to these appalling measures. You can call on your Local Authority to stand with its communities and pledge to fight the anti-refugee laws using our newly updated resources, which include a template motion. Get in touch with us at info@asylummatters if you would like to discuss using these resources to approach your Local Authority. You can find other ways to take action against the Bill on our website.
Reports and research
Praxis cost of living survey
Praxis is looking at the impact of the cost of living crisis on people cut out from state support and unable to access relief measures; with a particular focus on the experience of those affected by NRPF. A survey for people affected by these measures is here.
British Red Cross report on the impacts of digital exclusion on access to healthcare
British Red Cross has published a report, Offline and Isolated, which looks at how digital exclusion impacts access to healthcare for people seeking asylum in England. The research found that as well as resulting in delays in seeking medical care, digital exclusion and the resultant isolation and loneliness has harmful effects on peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.
Migrant Voice report on hotels
Migrant Voice has produced a report into experiences in hotel accommodation. ‘No rest, no security’ compiles the experiences of over 170 people housed in contingency hotels. The report finds issues in this form of accommodation contributing to a sense of loss of agency amongst participants, a feeling of being dehumanised, and effects on physical and mental health.
New analysis on public attitudes
ODI and IOM have shared new analysis to highlight much higher levels of support among the UK public for migration than current political and mainstream media discourse would suggest. They state that this underscores the need for more balanced, evidence-based narratives.
3. Resources, events, jobs & training
NEON Spokesperson Network
The next round of NEON UK’s national Spokesperson Network training will take place in June and applications are open now. The programme works by training, coaching and providing TV and radio booking support for spokespeople. The aim is to substantially boost the number of progressive, diverse voices, challenge pervasive narratives and boost coverage of underrepresented issues. See here for further details and how to apply, deadline for applications is Tuesday 2 May.
Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards
These awards, which celebrate exceptional reporting in Scotland on issues around asylum are now open for nominations. Details here, deadline 15 May.
PRCBC is recruiting for a legal practice administrator, deadline 27 April
City of Sanctuary UK is recruiting a Finance and Admin Officer (maternity leave), the deadline is midday on 2 May
Migration Yorkshire is recruiting for a community researcher (Ukraine). Details here, deadline 2 May
Stop Funding Hate is recruiting for board members – deadline 8 May
The Passage is looking for an immigration and welfare advisor. Details here deadline 8 May
Gold Jennings is recruiting for a trainee solicitor – details here deadline 15 May
BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) is recruiting trustees, the deadline is 16 May
Lloyds Bank Foundation is recruiting new members for its Wales Advisory Group. Closing date 17 May
AVID is recruiting a part-time Communications Coordinator. Details here, deadline is 5pm on 31 May
Our Second Home is looking for a treasurer, details here
4. What we’ve been reading
This Free Movement blog which examines two ways to address the asylum backlog and improve access to justice
This Big Issue long read on the Refugee Ban Bill