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 Safety of Rwanda Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 29 January, with peers voting for the Bill to proceed despite strong criticism from across the House. The Bill will now go to Committee Stage, where it is expected that peers will significantly amend it.
Over 260 charities and organisations working to protect people’s rights have signed a joint public statement calling on the House of Lords to reject the Bill. The letter was covered in the Independent.
Previously, peers had voted against the ratification of the UK- Rwanda treaty, with the debate largely focusing on the International Agreements Committee’s report on the treaty. A joint investigation by the Observer and Led by Donkeys has also revealed that the UK had granted asylum to Rwandan refugees while arguing that the country was safe.
Meanwhile, the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has told the UK Government it has a “clear legal obligation” to observe emergency court orders (or Rule 39 interim measures) and would be breaking human rights laws if it chose to ignore them. The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has told the BBC that the UK Government’s ‘Stop the boats’ policy was a “fake response” to the challenges around forced displacement, and criticised the Rwanda policy.
Liberty has shared unbranded social media assets and draft posts on the Bill
Liberty has also shared a write to MP action
Freedom from Torture has shared a petition calling on the Government to scrap all plans to offshore people seeking safety
Housing and homelessness
The continued and growing crisis around refugee homelessness is resulting in further activity around the country. Campaigners in Glasgow are delivering letters to housing associations urging them to condemn evictions from asylum accommodation; while in Bury, Greater Manchester, refugees have staged a sit-in in protest at having been made homeless. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has requested an additional £20m – and been refused by ministers – to help prevent enforced street homelessness during cold weather among newly recognised refugees.
The UK Government, meanwhile, is reported to be considering a new housing policy labelled ‘British Homes for British workers’. The scheme, said to be due to go out to consultation, would see higher priority to social housing given to UK families. The proposed scheme has been widely criticised, with a joint letter convened by the Chartered Institute of Housing from housing organisations calling instead for more social housing to be built.
The co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending Homelessness have written to ministers calling on them to act to prevent people becoming homeless on leaving asylum accommodation and other public institutions.
No Pride in Deportation
African Rainbow Family is currently running a petition for its No Pride in Deportation campaign, calling for an end to the traumatising and potentially deadly act of deporting LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum.
Fair Begin Here Valentine’s Day action
Together With Refugees is organising a Valentine’s Day action on 14 February for its Fair Begins Here campaign – you can download a campaign toolkit with suggested activities here.
2. Government and parliamentary updates
Legal aid review
The Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence for its review of civil legal aid, which closes on 21 February. The Refugee Action Good Practice and Partnerships team has produced a useful FAQ document which shares guidance on how groups and individuals can respond to the call for evidence.
3. Reports and research
Forced Adulthood report on incorrect age determination and the impacts
The Helen Bamber Foundation, Humans for Rights Network and the Refugee Council have published a new report ‘Forced Adulthood: The Home Office’s incorrect determination of age and how this leaves child refugees at risk’. The report finds, through data provided by local authorities via Freedom of Information requests, that at least 1,300 refugee children were placed in unsupervised adult accommodation and detention in an 18-month period (Jan 22-June 23) after being wrongly age-assessed on arrival in the UK, with children as young as 14 being forced to share rooms with unrelated adults, while 14 children spent time in custody with adults in adult prisons. You can share the report using these social media assets, or repost the co-authors’ social media posts (1, 2, 3).
Briefing on refugee homelessness in Greater Manchester
GMIAU has produced this briefing calling for a stop to evictions until there is sufficient housing for people to move into within their local area.
Joint briefing on minimum income requirement
Reunite Families UK, Migrant Voice, Praxis and British in Europe have produced a joint parliamentary briefing on the minimum income requirement. The briefing makes a number of recommendations, and highlights the impact the policy will have on children and families and several outstanding questions that remain unanswered.
ONS research on young displaced people
The Office for National Statistics has published new research on the experiences of young people living in England who have been displaced and their parents or carers. The main challenges identified included lack of choice over accommodation; long delays for decisions on their cases; and language.
4. Resources, events, jobs and training
The Routes Mentoring Programme is open for applications, offering bursary places for women of colour to mentor and receive training; and for women from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds, to join Routes as a mentee. The programme runs between April-August 2024, and the deadline for applications is 31 January.
Migrants’ access to the welfare state – seminar series
Sisters not Strangers Conference
The Sisters not Strangers Coalition – made up of seven groups whose mission is to campaign against destitution and other inhumane policies affecting women seeking safety in the UK – is holding a conference in Liverpool on Friday 16 February 2-5pm. You can read more information and register to attend for free here.
HOPE not hate is recruiting a Director of Communities and Policy. Closing date is 8 February.
Migrant Voice is recruiting a Communications Worker. Closing date is 9 February.
KRAN is recruiting a Senior Manager: Advocacy and Support. Closing date is 5pm on 19 February.
Southeast and East Asian Centre is recruiting a Research Officer. Closing date is 21 February.
Rainbow Migration is seeking new trustees. Closing date is 10am on 23 February.
Bradford City of Sanctuary is recruiting an Administration and Communications Officer. Closing date is 9am on 4 March.
African Rainbow Family is recruiting an Office Administrator. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.
Stop the Traffik is recruiting for a Data Engagement Manager, a Data Scientist and a Full Stack Manager. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.