Advocacy update – 24 May 2023

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

Refugee Ban Bill

The Illegal Migration Bill continues its passage through the House of Lords this week, with a total of five days of detailed line by line scrutiny and amendments to begin later today at Committee Stage.

This follows passionate debate during the Bill’s second reading on 10 May, when numerous peers spoke out against the legislation, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in a rare intervention called it “morally unacceptable”; and has tabled two amendments for the latest stage. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Paddick unsuccessfully proposed a ‘motion to decline’ the Bill, which if successful would have blocked the legislation from continuing its passage through the Lords.

Last week saw the publication of the Government’s long-overdue Equality Impact Assessment of the legislation. Free Movement has shared an update on the Bill covering debate in the House of Lords so far and an analysis of the Equality Impact Assessment.

As the #RefugeeBanBill faces strong resistance in the House of Lords, across the UK campaigners continue to speak out against it, including organisations across Greater Manchester, and Safe Passage young leaders who visited Parliament to make their opposition known. Rainbow Migration, Just Right Scotland, Liberty, NACCOM, Praxis, Rene Cassin and Women for Refugee Women have also jointly launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to abandon the Bill and protect LGBTQI+ lives.

Meanwhile, a petition has been set up on the UK Parliament website calling on the Government to remain a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, departure from which has been advocated by the Home Secretary to aid efforts to remove people seeking asylum.

Five Sudanese young people based in Manchester have written a letter to the Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick drawing attention to the plight of the Sudanese people, including their loved ones, and the lack of safe routes available to them.

Communities not camps

The UK Government continues to press ahead with plans to operationalise the Bibby Stockholm barge, with reports that it is seeking to initially place 50 people seeking asylum in the facility from mid-June after its planned arrival at Portland. The Port authorities there state that when on Port property, people “will be kept on the Bibby Stockholm or in a secure compound adjacent to the barge”.

Over the weekend, protestors gathered at Falmouth, where the Bibby Stockholm is currently berthed, and simultaneously at the Home Office to call for #NoFloatingPrisons, and delivered an open letter to the Home Office. Meanwhile, Wirral MP Mick Whitley has secured an adjournment debate in Parliament about similar plans there; and residents’ opposition continues across the country around the planned camps at Wethersfield, Scampton, Bexhill and Northop Hall.

Take action against the plans:

Asylum accommodation – safeguards removed and abuse at hotels

Beyond Government plans to house people in ex-prisons, military camps and barges, there are fresh concerns about other aspects of deeply unsuitable housing for those seeking safety in the UK.

Media reports have revealed abuse at five Serco-run hotels on Merseyside, with asylum seeking residents subjected to harassment, humiliation and abuse; while Home Office plans to remove basic standards and protections from housing for people seeking asylum have been revealed, with landlords to be made exempt from providing safeguards such as minimum room sizes and electrical safety.

Lift the Ban – Birmingham School Day of Action

One school in Birmingham has run a full day of action in support of the Lift the Ban campaign. Pupils at St Ambrose Barlow Catholic Primary School, together with Asylum Matters and Stories of Hope and Home, took part in the High Street Challenge and signed up local businesses; wrote letters to local MPs, Councillors, and other businesses; while some wrote songs and others made this very powerful video.

For information or materials on the High Street Challenge, or any of aspect of the Lift the Ban campaign, please contact us at [email protected]

2. Reports and research

ICIBI call for evidence – asylum casework

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is carrying out an inspection into asylum casework, and is interested to hear from those with expertise in this area, particularly those with first hand experience of the asylum process. More information here, deadline 26 May.

Hostile Government rhetoric and the far right

Hope Not Hate has published research which finds that anti-migrant hostility from the UK Government helps drive far-right activity on migration; while there are also evident overlaps in rhetoric between media coverage of migration and far-right messages.

The data shows that with each Government announcement – whether on small boat crossings, plans for wave machines in the Channel or sending people to Rwanda – far-right activity spikes every time. Hope Not Hate and several sector CEOs have written to the Home Secretary to call for an end to the rhetoric.

Praxis cost of living and NRPF survey findings

Praxis recently carried out a survey on how people affected by NRPF are faring in the cost of living crisis. Headline findings include:

  • Two thirds of people with NRPF surveyed are struggling to afford enough food to feed their children;

  • 59% have been forced into debt to afford the costs of basic essentials – almost three times as many as the UK population as a whole;

  • Between a quarter and two fifths of people have fallen behind in paying their energy, rent or mortgage or other bills, compared to between 5% and 7% of the general population.

Praxis’ analysis shows that in a comparison of two identical low-income households, one with NRPF and one without, the NRPF household gets five times less support with the cost of living than the household entitled to access benefits.

Welcoming Ukrainians: Stories from Liverpool

More in Common has published a follow-up to its March report on Homes for Ukraine. To mark Liverpool hosting Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine, the new report features in-depth interviews with three Ukrainians living in the city who came to the UK through the scheme.

BMJ article on the implications of the Illegal Migration Bill for pregnant women

The British Medical Journal has published an article from Women For Refugee Women and Birth Companions. ‘Indefinite detention: the implications of the Illegal Migration Bill for pregnant women’ strongly warns of the harm the legislation, which will remove the current 72 hour time limit for their detention, will cause to women and their babies.

Public Law Project briefing on how the Illegal Migration Bill threatens our constitution

Public Law Project, ILPA, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Amnesty International and Liberty have produced a joint briefing detailing how the Illegal Migration Bill threatens our core constitutional principles, including by undermining Parliamentary Sovereignty, the rule of law, the protection of human rights, the devolution settlement and the separation of powers.

The Migration Observatory briefing on the backlog

The Migration Observatory has updated its briefing on the backlog in the UK asylum system.

3. Resources, events, jobs and training

Documentary – ‘On Our Doorstep’

A new independent documentary has been released on the story of the Calais ‘Jungle’ in 2016 and the remarkable solidarity of ordinary people who went to help. Screening across the country, more info here.

Call for short films

PLURAL+, a joint initiative of IOM and UNAOC, is calling for young people to submit a short film (up to five minutes) depicting the topics of migration, diversity, social inclusion, and the prevention of xenophobia. Information on how to submit a film is here, and the deadline is 30 June.

GLA Emergency Summit on Illegal Migration Bill

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is holding an Emergency Summit on the Illegal Migration Bill, hosted by the Deputy Mayor of London for Communities and Social Justice, on Thursday 25 May 2-5pm online via Teams. The event will focus on the impacts of the Bill in a London context. You can register here.

Migration Exchange leadership development project – further details

MEX has published further information in an FAQ document about its invitation to tender for a new  community of practice on leadership development in the UK refugee and migration sector. Full details of the opportunity and how to apply are available here. The closing date for proposals is 31 May.


4. What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to


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