Asylum Matters works in partnership locally and nationally to improve the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum through social and political change. We do this by:
- Bridging the gap between asylum policy and practice: We mobilise our regional networks to collect evidence about the impact of policies on people going through the asylum system. In this way we aim to ensure that national policy discussions are informed by the realities faced by refugees and people seeking asylum.
- Acting as a catalyst and convenor of campaigning action: We coordinate advocacy and campaigning work on a range of issues ahead of key influencing opportunities. We also provide a forum for our partners to exchange information, share best practice and plan joint action.
- Reinforcing links between local and national campaigning: We facilitate collaboration between local organisations and national agencies. Where possible, we align campaigning activities and ensure consistency in messaging so that decision-makers receive the same calls to action at local and national levels.
- Building voice and local campaigning capacity: We work with local partners to build their capacity and support their own campaigning and advocacy work. We look for platforms for refugees, people seeking asylum and their supporters to tell their stories and campaign for change.
- Advocating directly with decision-makers: We work with policy-makers to address the issues identified by our partners and ensure that these discussions are informed by local perspectives.
Asylum Matters was created to take forward the eight goals that were identified at the ‘Sanctuary Summit’ in 2014 – an unprecedented gathering of refugees, migrants, advocates and supporters from around the country who came together to set out a vision for a more welcoming Britain. This vision became known as the ‘Birmingham Declaration’, which has since been endorsed by more than 320 organisations. The key principles and goals which underpin the Birmingham Declaration and which Asylum Matters is now working to progress include:
- An end to destitution in the asylum system, by ensuring that all asylum seekers and refugees can meet their essential living needs while in the UK;
- Permission to work for asylum seekers whose case has taken more than six months, or they have been refused and are temporarily unable to return home;
- Free access to healthcare for all asylum seekers while they are in the UK;
- Improved decision making, so protection is granted to all those who need it;
- Improved access to good quality legal advice and representation;
- An end to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and migrants;
- Asylum seekers to be welcomed & befriended on arrival, and offered free language tuition so they can fully participate and contribute to the local community;
- All asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to be treated with dignity and respect.
Asylum Matters is a project, not an organisation, and therefore it is hosted by City of Sanctuary, a national organisation that provides coordination and support for City of Sanctuary local groups around the UK with the aim of building a culture of hospitality and welcome.
While Asylum Matters is independent in setting its advocacy objectives and designing and delivering its campaigns, it works closely with City of Sanctuary at a national and local level. This partnership has provided local City of Sanctuary groups with access to additional opportunities to engage in campaigning and advocacy activities to support refugees and asylum seekers. These campaigns will greatly benefit from the involvement of local groups whose enthusiasm and dedication can have real campaigning impact when channelled towards relevant influencing opportunities.
We believe the partnership will facilitate greater synergy between national, regional and local awareness-raising and advocacy.