Please revisit this page which is under regular review. Please contact us if you see anything missing or out of date.
There is a wide range of advocacy and campaigning activity to protect people seeking sanctuary and other migrants facing considerable challenges through this crisis including detention and destitution. Our general policy is to focus on campaigns agreed across the sector for greatest strategic impact and we are guided in this by our partners Asylum Matters, who are committed to building a collaborative collective approach to campaigning across the sector. We are also guided by the principles in the Birmingham Declaration. These are:
- 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 have a regular weekly updates on advocacy initiatives across the sector and we recommend checking this out for links to actions you can take as well as new resources and developments.
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for current actions you can take.
CoS groups and sanctuary supporters are encouraged to promote the campaigns below via their networks and social media.
Stand up for Sanctuary
Please visit our statement and ideas for action on the fear mongering media about the channel crossings and consider writing to your MP using our template or the JCWi one and send their briefing to your MP. We need to #ChangetheStory and promote positive stories amidst the gloom of the overreaction and far right backlash to the numbers arriving across the channel. Latest HO stats show a 40% drop in new arrivals to June 2020.
Actions you can take following the tragic Moria Refugee Camp fire in Greece. Petition, email your MP and donations.
Lift the Ban
The coalition campaign has produced a new accessible report Lift the Ban: Why giving people seeking asylum the right to work is common sense with useful graphics summarising facts and figures, and stories to share with your MP. There is a also a new updated Lift the Ban activism pack to support individuals and local groups to campaign at local level to change the policy to allow people seeking sanctuary the right to work. The call for people seeking sanctuary to be allowed to work, especially in key worker and the health and care sector, has grown and there is now 71% public support for this common sense policy change. This makes it more winnable than ever, and you can help by telling your MP that you support this and ask them to do so too. The hashtag for social media posts is #LiftTheBan. Please contact [email protected] for more information or to get involved. Petition here.
You can stay up to date with the latest actions through Detention Forum news. Much has happened since the beginning of the pandemic, numbers detained has fallen, Morton Hall is being returned to the prison service and Yarl’s Wood has been re-designated as a temporary holding centre ( 48 hours maximum).
The latest action we support is the amendment on a time limit in the House of Lords brought by Baroness Hamwee. See the letter to Chris Philp and contact any member of the House of Lords to ask them to support this.
See also the letter from Freed Voices to the Home Secretary. This is worth sharing with your MP as it has a powerful message on Immigration Removal Centres.
Asylum Support Rates
Asylum Matters continues to campaign on support rates and asylum accommodation and are seeking evidence on the effect of low rates on health and well-being. At 74% below the poverty line, keeping well is a challenge at the best of times and now exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, both in terms of increased needs and the rise in food prices. Please contact Asylum Matters with any evidence you have to share to highlight this challenge. In partnership with Refugee Action, there is now a new campaign to email your MP to ask for support rates to be increased in line with national benefits. Or you can find template letters (for groups or individuals) in our article here. Please share this widely. In response to the campaign asylum support was increased by 26p per day to £39.60 a week on 15th June. This is an insult and so the campaign continues. Please take the increase into account when writing to your MP. See this follow up joint letter from 250 organisations.
Freedom from Torture have sent a joint letter to the Home Secretary and Chancellor asking for an increase of £20 per week to asylum support for the next 12 months, as per the increase in Universal Credit, to address concerns that the current asylum support rates do not enable people to meet their essential living needs during the public health crisis and stay safe. You can sign and share the petition.
End the Hostile Environment
Protecting migrants and people seeking sanctuary from Covid-19 –You can sign the joint letter on the JCWI website asking the Home Secretary to end the hostile environment to protect people from Covid-19. No-one is safe unless we are all safe.
We are encouraged by the recent move to prevent evictions from asylum accommodation.
NACCOM – the No Accommodation Network working with people who are destitute are calling for everyone to be provided with shelter. They have sent two joint letters to the Home Office and City of Sanctuary Groups can sign the joint letter on their website. Click here to keep up to date and support the NACCOM campaign work.
This links to your work with councils. Your Local Authority should be supporting people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) as well as local people who are homeless to ensure secure shelter as well as food.
Free School Meals for children in families on Section 4 Asylum Support. Well done to Tees Valley of Sanctuary who successfully persuaded Mears Housing Provider to ensure uptake by informing all families in their accommodation. We encourage support to ensure all Asylum housing providers do the same. See how they did it here: FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR CHILDREN ON SECTION 4
No Recourse to Public Funding We have signed the joint letter alongside over 30 migrants rights organisations – coordinated by the Unity Project and JCWI. The letter urges the Prime Minister to lift No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions swiftly and completely. “Without support, people are forced to work in unsafe conditions, cannot remove themselves from unsafe housing, and are unable to both effectively self-isolate and feed their families.”
Doctors of the World UK, The British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians are calling on the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to suspend the NHS Charging Regulations due to the risk they pose to national efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. You can sign the petition and read and sign the letter here.
You can also ask your MP if they have joined or will join the 60 cross-party MPs who wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock in late April, calling for the immediate suspension of charging for migrants and associated data-sharing and immigration checks. The letter, coordinated by Apsana Begum MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP and Zarah Sultana MP, cited the case of Elvis, a Philipino migrant who died from Covid-19 after fearing he would be charged for treatment.
You could also share with your MP the BMJ Paediatrics Open Journal reported findings from a survey completed by members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Results described that fear of charging and deportation, and confusion around entitlements, are leading to delays seeking care. See related coverage here. Medact has produced graphics and videos to help disseminate key findings on social media. No-one is safe until we are all safe.
The health surcharge for NHS and care workers has now been withdrawn, a welcome u-turn by the government but we still want this to be extended to all. See the video here.
#QualifiedtoHelp is a new campaign led by RefuAid and Help Refugees asking the General Medical Council to make the process of registration for overseas doctors more straightforward. See the open letter from doctors, which you can share with doctors you may know and the petition which you can sign to support.
Government Legislation –
Keep an eye on Liberty who will be closely monitoring and scrutinising the new law brought in as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19.
Read and share the Racial Justice Network statement on Covid-19. We need to remain aware of the potential long term ramifications of increased police powers on the human rights of migrants and UK citizens alike.