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.
1. Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
The Government’s Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill has returned to the House of Commons this week, with the Prime Minister experiencing a significant rebellion from 60 of his backbenchers. Tory rebels are seeking to amend the bill to make it harder for people seeking asylum to appeal deportation to Rwanda and allow ministers to ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has been grilling ministers over the financial costs associated with the Rwanda scheme.
Take action now to stop the anti-refugee laws:
Sign the 38 Degrees petition to Scrap the Rwanda Deportation Plan
Sign the Freedom From Torture petition to Stop the Flights
Call on your local council to oppose the anti-refugee laws
Communities Not Camps
More than 60 charities have demanded the immediate closure of the Bibby Stockholm barge and an independent enquiry after 27-year-old Leonard Farruku tragically died onboard in December following a suspected suicide.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the Home Office has moved nearly 100 people seeking asylum from RAF Wethersfield, including suspected victims of torture and human trafficking. According to FOI requests the individuals have been moved to hotels, following ongoing concerns about the suitability of the site.
Nonetheless, hundreds of people seeking asylum remain on site, and the Helen Bamber Foundation and Human for Rights Network revealed in a report last month that children, survivors of torture and trafficking, and people with severe mental illness were being held at the site, despite government guidance making clear these groups should not be placed at RAF Wethersfield. All residents assessed by Helen Bamber’s clinicians displayed symptoms of worsening mental health. A legal challenge by Care4Calais which describes the conditions at the Essex site as ‘prison-like’ is ongoing.
Take action with our new #CommunitiesNotCamps resources:
Send our new parliamentary briefing to your MP
Write to your MP with our new template letter and ask them to speak out
2. Government and parliamentary updates
The Office for Statistics Regulation is investigating Rishi Sunak’s claims around clearing the legacy backlog of asylum claims. Despite the Prime Minister announcing that his government had successfully cleared the backlog of asylum claims, almost 100,000 claims remain in the system, and almost 5,000 ‘legacy’ cases remain undecided.
Asylum Support Rates
On 8 January changes made by the Home Office to the rates of asylum support came into effect. Those in self-catered accommodation will receive just 25p extra per day, while those in catered accommodation (including hotels, barges and camps) have had their weekly allowance cut from £9.58 to £8.86.
We are deeply disappointed and concerned to see such a small increase in the main rate of support; and that support for people in institutional accommodation has been cut – particularly in light of the damning evidence published in our new report, which revealed the hardship and deprivation already being experienced by people seeking asylum, detailed in Nation.Cymru. Our partners at Swansea Asylum Seekers Support and at Oasis Cardiff have told Golwg that the new rates will make it “almost impossible” for families they support to buy food.
3. Reports and research
Suicides of asylum seekers in Home Office accommodation double in last four years
A total of 23 asylum seekers are thought to have killed themselves in Home Office accommodation in the last four years, more than double the total in the previous four years, Liberty Investigates and the Guardian have learned as part of the Asylum Seeker Memorial Project.
A new report from the Refugee Council shows that the two main “safe routes” for refugees operated by the UK (resettlement and refugee family reunion) have declined in recent years, with a particularly stark fall in resettlement numbers, while dangerous Channel crossings have risen sharply since pre-Covid levels.
Harsh UK visa rules already causing mental health crisis for separated families
A new report by Reunite Families UK has revealed the hidden psychological burden bi-national families and their children are experiencing as a result of an increasingly harsh and expensive UK family migration policy (even before the latest increases). 65% of respondents to the survey conducted as part of the research say that their child has received a diagnosis of a mental health condition.
Paying the price: the social and economic cost of increasing salary thresholds for family joiners
A new joint briefing by Praxis, IPPR and GMIAU sets out the potential impacts of the increased salary threshold for family joiners. In particular, they highlight how families who do not meet the financial requirements of the Immigration Rules but may be recognised as having a human rights based claim to enter or remain in the UK could be affected.
The burden of data: digital tools, evidence and credibility in asylum & immigration courts
A new report by Security Flows examines findings from 916 appeals at the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber (UTIAC) between 2007-2022 that mentioned one or more of 16 digital platforms. As the use of digital evidence becomes increasingly pivotal in protection claims, the report sheds light on the challenges migrants face and makes recommendations for a fairer system.
Making strides: refugees’ employment trajectories in Yorkshire and the Humber
This new study by IPPR looks at job progression opportunities that are available to refugees and people with humanitarian leave.
The Experience of Home Office Accommodation by BAME LGBTIQ+ People Seeking Asylum in the UK
African Rainbow Family has launched a new research report, focusing on the experiences of BAME LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum in Home Office accommodation. Its findings include 37% of LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum in the UK feeling unsafe in their Home Office accommodation.
4. Resources, events, jobs and training
Future Leaders Programme
Applications are now open for the Future Leaders Programme, a leadership development course for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. You can find out more here, and the application form is here (or here for the mothers cohort). Applications close on 2 February.
ASAP’s ‘How to Appeal’ Guides
The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) has published helpful guides to appealing at the Asylum Support Tribunal. These practical easy-read resources provide guidance on appealing decisions to refuse or discontinue asylum support and an overview of the process of appealing.
GMIAU – resource on ‘Preliminary Information Meetings’ for young people
GMIAU has published resources for young people from currently eligible nationalities (Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam) who registered their asylum claims before 6 March 2023, as well as for responsible adults invited to attend ‘Preliminary Information Meetings’ as part of the Home Office reforms on asylum streamlining.
Right to Remain – Key Guide on Work Exploitation and Migrants Workers Rights
This new guide from Right to Remain covers what work exploitation is, how having insecure immigration status increases the risk of work exploitation and the rights of people in exploitation.
Guidance to support HC2 applications for people seeking asylum
NHS England has published guidance drawn up by a national working group to improve the process for issuing HC2 certificates to people seeking asylum. The guidance is aimed at professionals supporting people around access to healthcare and prescriptions.
HOPE not Hate – webinar and community engagement resource
HOPE not Hate has produced this new resource on community engagement, to look at how to engage different audiences with messaging that will counteract or build resilience to far-right rhetoric. The team will host a webinar on 24 January to launch the resource and hear from panellists who have experience with trying to connect with the community over far-right activity. Register here.
Refugee Action is recruiting a Campaigns Lead Trustee. Closing date 21 January.
HIAS+JCORE is seeking an Operations Manager. Closing date 22 January.
Anti Trafficking & Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) is recruiting an Operations & Projects Coordinator (closing date 22 January), a Lead Immigration Lawyer (closing date 12 February), and a Lead Training Lawyer: Immigration/Public Lawyer (closing date 15 February).
Our Second Home is looking for a part-time Fundraising & Communications Coordinator. Closing date 25 January.
Play for Progress is recruiting an Advocacy & Casework Coordinator. Closing date 26 January.
GARAS is recruiting a Resettlement Officer (West Oxfordshire). Closing date 29 January.
Refugee Women’s Centre is recruiting a Legal and Social Support Coordinator. Closing date is 31 January.
Detention Action is looking for a Communications and Campaigns Officer. Closing date 4 February.
After18 is recruiting a part-time Project Worker (Leicester) to support the running of a weekly wellbeing group for asylum seeking and refugee young women. Closing date 9 February.
Migrant Democracy Project is recruiting an Organiser. Closing date 12 February.
Maternity Action is recruiting a Director. Closing date 16 February
Stop the Traffik is recruiting a Data Engagement Manager (London). Closing date is rolling.
The Passage is recruiting an Advice & Advocacy Manager (Maternity Cover). Closing date is rolling.
5. What we’re reading, watching and listening to
- Seeking asylum in nature – an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Open Country featuring Action Asylum volunteers planting trees in the Welsh countryside.
- ‘I came to the UK as a terrified child – but the Home Office claimed I was an adult’ – a harrowing but all too familiar story shared by Joel in the i.
- Birmingham Live speaks to local people seeking asylum about living on asylum support and the Lift the Ban campaign for the right to work.