Our fortnightly summary of advocacy and campaigning initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources from across the asylum, refugee and migration sector. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.
Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Communities not Camps
Campaigners continue to oppose camps and barges being set up to accommodate people seeking asylum. It has been revealed the Home Office wishes to keep using the sites at Scampton in Lincolnshire, and Wethersfield in Essex for a further three years; while the local councils taking legal action against the UK Government’s plans are awaiting a decision after the High Court reserved judgement on the judicial review.
The site at Wethersfield is in the constituency of the new Home Secretary, with speculation beginning about how he will reconcile his new role with his previous opposition to its use. The Mayor of Portland, who is bringing a legal challenge to the Bibby Stockholm in her personal capacity, has written of how she wants to ‘stop the accommodation of vulnerable people on the Bibby Stockholm and consign it to the dustbin of history’.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick’s office intervened to prevent Care4Calais accessing Napier barracks to provide assistance, following residents’ protests at Wethersfield. Care4Calais are currently crowdfunding for a legal challenge to the Wethersfield site, on the grounds that conditions there may amount to detention.
Seven day evictions
The Big Issue has published an investigation into the extent of the homelessness crisis facing newly granted refugees, finding at least 6,900 people are to be evicted from their accommodation by the end of the year due to rapid processing and 7-day eviction notices.
Refugee Council co-ordinated this joint briefing looking at the current changes, which includes a summary of the changes , the impact and recommendations.
Newcastle City Council has passed a motion calling on the Government to roll back changes to the move-on period and to extend the move-on period to at least 56 days.
The Migrant Champions Network is holding an online information session on 5 December, 18–20.00, to hear from experts about how local councillors can support residents to resist the 7-day move-on period. Register here; and please share the link with any councillors you know whose constituents are at risk.
#ActionOnVisas National Day of Action
On 31 October, Migrant Voice coordinated a national day of action against extortionate visa fees with events in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds. You can find further information and resources about the campaign here.
Campaigners win free bus travel for people seeking asylum in Scotland
Following a campaign led by MIN Voices, Voices Network and MSP Paul Sweeney, the Scottish Greens have announced that they have secured funding for concessionary travel for people seeking asylum in the next Scottish Budget.
London Citizens are building a campaign to provide asylum seekers with access to free bus travel in London and are hosting a strategy Zoom call on Thursday 23 November 6-7.15pm, for anyone interested in collaborating on the campaign. You can register here.
Government and parliamentary updates
Supreme Court rules Rwanda plan unlawful
The UK Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Appeal Court ruling that Rwanda is not a safe third country and that asylum seekers sent from the UK to Rwanda would encounter a fundamentally defective asylum system which would render them vulnerable to being returned to their countries of origin.
Laying out the reasons behind its decision, the Supreme Court explained that a wealth of credible recent evidence shows that refugees in Rwanda are at risk of refoulement. This included: evidence of threats on life made by Rwandan police; questions over media and political freedoms in Rwanda; questions over Rwanda’s compliance with international treaties and agreements it has ratified, including a failed 2013-18 agreement to take asylum seekers from Israel, who were then routinely clandestinely moved from Rwanda to countries where they were likely to face refoulement; defects in the Rwandan asylum process, such as a lack of legal reps, a risk that lawyers/judges would not act independent of Government, and hundreds of examples of Rwanda’s rejection of asylum claims from known conflict zones such as Syrian, Afghanistan and Yemen, even since the Rwanda-UK agreement was signed.
Although the Home Secretary argued that a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding with the Rwanda Government was to be relied upon due to financial incentives and arrangements for monitoring compliance, the Supreme Court ruled these measures alone could not be relied upon to mitigate the proven risks to refugees in Rwanda of refoulement.
JCWI and others have convened a joint statement in response to the news.
Suella Braverman sacked as Home Secretary
On Monday it was announced that Rishi Sunak has sacked Suella Braveman after her article published in the Times, unauthorised by No. 10, accusing the police of leniency towards left-wing protests in comparison to far right protests, and labelling pro-Palestine demonstrations as “hate marches”. She has responded with a stinging letter to the Prime Minister, accusing him of failure and broken pledges on immigration policy.
The new Home Secretary is James Cleverly MP. Charities including Rainbow Migration have called on the new Home Secretary to scrap his predecessor’s asylum policies. You can read Refugee Action’s guide for the new Home Secretary to improving the asylum system.
3. Reports and Research
Destitution report and briefings
A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown the growing scale of destitution in the UK, with 3.8 million people experiencing destitution in 2022. The research shows that migrants are disproportionately at risk of destitution, with 23% of destitute households being migrants. Alongside the main report JRF has also published two new policy briefings on the asylum and immigration systems.
Meanwhile, Migration Observatory has just published a new briefing on destitution and NRPF.
New IPPR report on Channel crossings
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a new report, Charting new waters: A progressive policy response to the Channel crossings, which includes policy recommendations on safe and accessible routes, cooperation with neighbouring countries and reforming the asylum system.
New poll on UK public’s views on immigration
The European Social Survey has found that the majority of the British public hold positive views about the impact of immigration on the UK. The latest poll shows that for the first time a majority of respondents thought immigration was very positive for the UK economy, enriched the country’s cultural life, and made the country a better place to live.
4. Resources, events, jobs and training
Councils of Sanctuary: How have they done it?
City of Sanctuary is holding an online session on 5 December for Local Authorities and local partners to hear from councils that have successfully gone through the ‘Council of Sanctuary’ recognition process during 2023. Register here.
London Migration Film Festival
The London Migration Film Festival is back from 22-29 November in cinemas and venues across London with a week of films, talks, workshops, and music focused on bringing humanity back into the public discourse on migration. You can book tickets here.
MDP MPower Political Leadership Programme
The Migrant Democracy Project (MDP) is launching its first MPower Political Leadership Programme that aims to empower and provide the necessary knowledge and skills to 10 first-generation migrants to become candidates and stand in local elections across the UK. Applications are now open and further information is available here. The deadline for submitting the applications is 17 November.
New Rainbow Migration resource for intersex people claiming asylum
Rainbow Migration has shared a new video guide for intersex people going through the asylum process. The guide is available in 11 languages, with subtitles and British Sign Language. The English version is here, and other languages via the Youtube playlist, which is linked at the top of each of the asylum guides on the Rainbow Migration website.
New NACCOM resource: Working with Housing Associations: a toolkit
NACCOM has launched a new resource ‘Working with Housing Associations: A toolkit‘, which showcases the role that Housing Associations can play in supporting the accommodation of people seeking asylum, refugees and other migrants who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The theme of Refugee Week 2024 has been announced as ‘Our Home’, while the ‘Refugee Week 2023 Evaluation: Overview and Highlights’ has recently been published.
The European Network on Statelessness is recruiting for a Community Engagement Coordinator, closing date 20 November.
Breaking Barriers is recruiting for an Employment Advisor, closing date 23 November.
Refugee Education UK is recruiting for an Admin and Facilities Assistant, closing date 23 November.
British Future’s 2024 Internship Programme is open for applications, closing date 23 November.
Phosphoros Theatre is looking for trustees, closing date 24 November.
The Helen Bamber Foundation is recruiting a Legal Protection Coordinator, closing date 25 November.
STAR is recruiting for a Student Network Manager, closing date 29 November.
ASSIST Sheffield is recruiting a Communications, Events and Fundraising Coordinator, closing date 30 November at 9am.
5. What we’re reading/watching/listening to
Women For Refugee Women CEO Alphonsine Kabagabo writes in The Guardian that ‘I never thought, 30 years after I fled Rwanda, life would be worse for female refugees’
This Open Democracy piece from Zoe Gardner looks at what we know about Labour’s plans for asylum and migration.
The new Voices of Hope Podcast, a platform that aims to provide a safe and inclusive space for asylum seekers and refugees to share their information, stories, experiences, and aspirations with a wider audience.