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Asylum Seekers

 

What is the problem?

An asylum seeker is someone who has entered the UK to claim asylum and registered with the UK Border Agency.  If the asylum claim is accepted s/he is given ‘leave to remain’ and becomes a refugee. A refugee has the same rights and support as other foreign legal residents, including the right to work.  An asylum seeker is not allowed to work, but can get some financial support and accommodation.  However, if the asylum claim is rejected, most are evicted from their accommodation and their financial support is cut off.  In 2008, the Independent Asylum Commission calculated that 283,500 failed asylum seekers were living homeless in the UK.

 

What is the problem locally?

It can be difficult to obtain hard statistical data on the number of failed asylum seekers, but there may be plenty of anecdotal evidence; for example from city centre churches, from specialist organisations such as Refugee Action or from research projects by bodies such as the Independent Asylum Commission.

 

Possible responses

Examples of services for asylum seekers:

·         Immigration advice and casework;

·         Referral to other agencies and solicitors;

·         General casework – re housing, missed NASS payments, health;

·         English classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL);

·         Housing – emergency or longer stay

·         Destitution services of donated cash, food, clothing, furniture, toiletries;

·         Access to showers and/or washing machines;

·         Social support such as healthy eating and cooking events;

·         Volunteering opportunities giving a meaningful way of passing the time;

·         Allotments and gardening, which also enable mixing and meeting people.

 

Examples of faith-based projects focusing on asylum seekers 

Nottingham Arimathea Trust formed in 2004 provides:

·         Temporary housing for refused, destitute asylum seekers;

·         A safe place for working on further submissions of asylum claims;

·         A housing project for single refugees often made homeless when given ‘leave to remain’.

 

 

Support for Asylum Seekers, an ecumenical project in Liverpool, provides grants that go towards accommodation and cash grants for destitute asylum seekers. SAS works closely with another organisation, Asylum Link which although not strictly church-related relies heavily on church premises, donations from churches and church-linked volunteers for its wide range of services.

 

 

Derby Cathedral is often visited by asylum seekers, many of whom are given individual support such as being given meals and accompanied to hearings.  The Justice and Peace Group provides a network of people to draw on for the relevant assistance.