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
Seven Day Evictions
The number of refugees evicted into homelessness has tripled since the Government began implementing seven day evictions, the Big Issue has reported, with at least 1,500 people being made homeless in just three months.
Health and social care chiefs in Scotland have warned of social unrest as a result of seven day evictions, with Glasgow City Council voicing concerns that this will put its “already stretched Homelessness Service under unprecedented pressure”. The Guardian has reported on the damaging impact of shorter evictions on homelessness in Liverpool, whilst the British Red Cross has warned the Government’s seven day eviction policy could result in 50,000 refugees being made homeless by the end of the year. Northern Ireland-based PPR is calling for a cold-weather moratorium on evictions from asylum seeker accommodation, and has published a briefing and issued a letter to the UK Government and accommodation contractor Mears.
Communities Not Camps
Protests by people seeking asylum placed at the camp in Wethersfield have continued, amid fears of scabies and covid at the site. Residents have told BBC and ITV news the camp is “like a prison”. The new Home Secretary has said he wants to close down the camp “as soon as practicable”. A legal challenge by Care4Calais to segregation at the site is underway.
In Portland, community action to welcome those placed on the Bibby Stockholm has continued, with reports of at least 135 people currently on board; while in Campsfield in Oxfordshire, local campaigners have been protesting against the planned re-opening of an immigration detention centre.
Lift the Ban
Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, together with the Deputy Mayors of London and Greater Manchester, wrote jointly to the Government to set out actions they wish ministers to take to tackle refugee homelessness. An end to the ban on people seeking asylum being allowed to work was highlighted as one of the key solutions to the crisis.
Meanwhile in North Tyneside, local campaigners have been working on the Lift the Ban High Street Challenge and recently held an event with local businesses to promote the campaign. Campaigners in Sheffield staged a sold-out Lift the Ban event, with further High Street Challenge activity taking place in Leeds and in Lancaster. For more information on how to get involved in the Lift the Ban High Street Challenge, visit the Lift the Ban website and download the High Street Challenge handbook; and check out this helpful blog from a group of campaigners.
Anniversary of Channel tragedy
Last week marked the two-year anniversary of the worst mass drowning in the Channel for decades, when 27 bodies were recovered. Four people remain missing. Care4Calais published an open letter with relatives of those who died and other refugee charities, calling on the Government to change its rhetoric and policies so that these tragedies can end. Safe Passage has launched a social media action – a #MessageInABottle for refugees – to provide hope and solidarity.
Government and parliamentary updates
Rwanda aftermath and next steps
Following the Supreme Court ruling against the Government’s Rwanda plan, the Prime Minister has announced his intention to introduce emergency legislation to ‘confirm’ Rwanda as a safe country. The Guardian has published an explainer on what options remain for the Government, amidst the Prime Minister’s threats to defy the European Convention on Human Rights if necessary.
However, the promised new treaty with Rwanda has been delayed, with the new Home Secretary describing the Rwandan deportation plan as not the “be all and end all” of the Government’s immigration policy.
Asylum decision making
The Home Office is reported to have been cancelling asylum claims by mistake under the pressure of meeting the Prime Minster’s target to clear the ‘legacy backlog’ by the end of the year. Official statistics reveal nearly 5,000 applications have been withdrawn without consent, leaving people without access to asylum support or accommodation.
Quarterly immigration statistics
Immigration statistics for the year ending 30 September have been published by the UK Government. They reveal that over the previous 12 months, 75% of initial decisions on applications for asylum were grants of refugee status, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave. There remained 125,173 cases (relating to 165,411 people) still awaiting an initial decision.
Reports and Research
Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has published a research report on the Exceptional Case Funding process. Designed as a safety net for people to apply to, BID found the process actually impedes access to justice; and recommends that all immigration cases be brought back into scope of legal aid as a matter of urgency.
Homelessness among Ukrainians
The British Red Cross has published new research which shows Ukrainian families in the UK are four times as likely to find themselves homeless as the population as a whole. Researchers found a range of reasons for this, including the cost of living and the breakdown of relationships between hosts and guests; and made a number of recommendations to the Government to address the situation.
Resources, events, jobs and training
Updated guide on challenging notice to move to the Bibby Stockholm barge
Migrants Organise has updated its guide on challenging notices to move to the barge, see here.
Migrants Rights Network has published its Words Matter Manifesto, which sets out five key steps to defy hostile narratives around people seeking safety or a new life in the UK. You can share the Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn posts.
- 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.
- Action Foundation is recruiting for a Support Work Manager, closing at 4pm on 8 December.
What we’re reading/watching/listening to
“My family is paying the price of the government’s unlawful Rwanda plan” covers one family’s story of their life waiting for four years (and counting) for a decision on their asylum claim, revealing a painful and all-too-familiar litany of cruelty and incompetence.