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Campaigning

 

Julian Smith MP

L to R: Sara, Heather, Julian Smith MP, and John.

We campaign to improve the situation of asylum-seekers and refugees across the UK, engaging with elected officials at all levels. We regularly correspond with our local MP, Julian Smith, about refugee and asylum-seeker issues, and have met with him to discuss our work and highlight our concerns. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we have attended Sanctuary in Parliament days at Westminster. We also network with other organisations including regional City of Sanctuary groups and Asylum Matters.

See the responses we have received from our MP, the home secretary, and other government ministers.

Our primary concerns

We are concerned about upholding the rights and welfare of refugees and asylum-seekers, and are asking the government to develop a comprehensive national integration policy for refugees, with a dedicated minister. We campaign on number of policies which we believe adversely affect refugees and asylum-seekers and run counter to the UK’s tradition of welcome. Specifically, we would like the government to:

  1. LIFT THE BAN and allow asylum-seekers to work. Currently Asylum-seekers are forced to live on benefits – but the benefits are £36.95 a week to cover everything except accommodation. This causes severe hardship and often destitution, yet most asylum-seekers have real skills to offer and are anxious to contrinute to our society and to have the dignity of work. Some asylum-seekers wait up to 20 years for a Home Office decision, in which they cannot work and are very poor. Ripon City of Sanctuary has signed up to the Lift the Ban coalition, made up of refugee organisations, faith groups, trade unions, businesses and individuals from across the country, and we are asking the government to allow asylum-seekers to work.
    Please see the report and sign the petition.
  2. Extend the 28-day ‘moving-on’ period to 56 days. Currently, the government only gives people 28 days to find new accommodation after they are granted leave to remain in the UK. This is too short to navigate our complex welfare bureaucracy, get key identity documents (such as National Insurance numbers), and secure new lodging. Sadly, many newly recognised refugees fall into destitution as a result.
  3. Allow for an expanded definition of family reunion to permit unaccompanied child refugees in the UK to be reunited with their parents and close family members. Currently, family reunion is very limited, which keeps families apart – causing psychological harm and hampering refugee integration.
  4. End indefinite detention for asylum-seekers. The UK Border Agency  administers 9 detention centres across the UK, where rejected asylum-seekers, including stateless people, can be held indefinitely. The UK is the only country in Europe where they can be detained for years.

Underlining the positives

At the same time, we want to underscore – especially from our own direct experience – the many positives of having refugees in the community here in Ripon, and how many people in Ripon share our concerns about the welfare of refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK.