Cuts to support for asylum seekers should be scrutinised by parliament, former Liberal Democrat minister has urged MPs.
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Dear Supporter of Leicester City of Sanctuary,
I am writing to you as chair of Leicester City of Sanctuary. Our organisation is growing, with over five hundred members. More than seventy organisations have now signed our pledge of support. All our contacts with asylum seekers and refugees show us that it is essential that we continue our work of practical friendship with those seeking sanctuary in Leicester and Leicestershire. Our new Drop-in Centre, which will open in the St Martins Centre in April, our programme of outings for families with children and our pilot Hosting Scheme are examples of new developments we have initiated.
The bad news is that our funding runs out in August. We need to raise at least £14,000 to continue our work to the end of this the year. And £24,000 each year after that. At our AGM we shall be considering whether it is appropriate to ask each supporting organisation and individual to pay a modest subscription. Of course, some of you are already very generous in your support and we are extremely grateful. Meanwhile we are asking each of you, both as groups and as individuals, whether you could help by organising a fund-raising event to help City of Sanctuary keep going. I have attached some ideas of ways you might do this, but we are sure you will have ideas of your own.
We would be glad to help by sending along one of our speakers to your group to talk about the ways in which we can all make Leicester and the county a more welcoming place. We could also help by finding volunteers to help your fund raising efforts if you need more pairs of hands.
If you or your group feel it would be simpler just to donate to our cause, as some have already done, all donations should be made payable to Leicester City of Sanctuary, and now that we are a registered charity, we can claim Gift Aid on all donations. Please use the attached form for your donation, which can, if you wish, remain anonymous.
With many thanks for your continued interest and support
Pamela M Inder
Chair of Leicester City of Sanctuary
0116 2616222 / 07716 073403
A CHARITY that provides support for detained immigrants and asylum seekers has celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) held a celebration to mark the anniversary on March 1, with a celebrity guest giving the occasion some added glamour.
Actress Sheila Hancock, who was recently a judge on reality show Over the Rainbow, stood up Andrew Lloyd Webber and the premiere of The Wizard of Oz musical to compere the occasion.
When the charity first approached her to take part in the event she was reluctant to do so, as she had never heard of its work visiting asylum seekers detained at Gatwick Airport’s Tinsley House and Brook House.
Source: This is Sussex
ELEVEN students from the Chase in Malvern camped outside to raise awareness of the destitution faced by thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK.
They were among 1,000 students across the country who slept out during the National Student Action Week, organised by Amnesty International and Student Action for Refugees.
They are calling on the government to allow people to work and support themselves if they have been waiting for more than six months for their cases to be concluded, or have been refused asylum but cannot be returned.
Source: Malvern Gazette
Read the most recent Refugee Council Impact Report for an enjoyable and thought-provoking look at their work and the impact it has on those they help.
(IRIN) – An informal group of developed countries has pledged to continue to back programmes in Zimbabwe worth more than US$500 million in 2011 to help the poor, but says “serious concerns remain” on the “protection of fundamental rights, the rule of law, governance and respect for agreements”.
President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce a date for national elections in 2011, according to local media, but NGOs and human rights activists fear they could lead to a surge of political violence.
The Herald, the official daily newspaper, reporting on ZANU-PF’s recent annual conference, quoted Mugabe as saying the party was “a fired-up, fuelled and fast-moving train that would crush anything that dares stand in its way.”
The donor group, which calls itself the Friends of Zimbabwe, said programmes they supported in 2010 helped “Zimbabweans regardless of political persuasion”: Every child in primary school in Zimbabwe now had new text books; some of the water and power networks had been rehabilitated and agricultural inputs had been given to 600,000 households, the statement said.
It was heartbreaking to read this week how asylum seekers who can’t work, can’t claim benefits and have nowhere to live in this country, have to try and live off £10 weekly vouchers given to them by The Red Cross.
A report also revealed how up to 20,000 asylum seekers are living in destitution in the UK and are wholly dependent on charities for food and warmth.
But they have no choice. One man said, “If you understand that it is a choice between living here in this way and going back to be slaughtered, then you understand that there is no choice.”
A huge number of people who read the article in The Guardian were affected by it like I was and a large majority asked how they could help. It’s now published a list of charities that you can volunteer with or donate to.
The British Red Cross themselves have a Refugee Services that you can volunteer with to offer support and advice to make it easier for refugees and asylum seekers to settle into a new environment. Choose from befriending, helping refugees and asylum seekers access healthcare and clothing or showing them where to find local necessities such as the post office and library.
If you don’t get to volunteer straight away you could just carry out a ’simple act’ as part of Refugee Week’s Simple Acts campaign running this week. Just signing off an email with a note about refugees or cooking a dish from another country could help them reach their goal of achieving 20,000 simple acts by this Sunday 20th June.
A dedicated asylum seeker centre should be created in Northern Ireland, the Refugee Action Group has said.
Legal representation, health and other support must be available while people’s cases are assessed, a report from the group added.
Prison-style detention should end and be replaced by an open reception unit, the review added. Currently immigrants are sent to detention centres in Great Britain after being brought to a police station.
By Harmit Athwal
An event will be held this weekend in Leicester for families and friends of those who have died in custody.
By Frances Webber
In his home country of Zimbabwe, Gabrial Ziki was chair of the National Aircraft Engineers’ Association – until 2003, when he organised a strike and his life was threatened. He fled to the UK, where, shockingly, his asylum claim was refused, and since then he has received no support. He ended up living in a car outside the women’s hostel in Shelton, Staffordshire, where his wife was placed, and she bought food for the two of them from her weekly entitlement of £35. In November 2009, at Stoke on Trent Crown Court, Gabrial was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 180 hours’ unpaid work, for obtaining a false passport in order to seek work.
The level of support for adult asylum seekers was recently reduced from just over £42 to £35.15 a week. It is bad enough to expect anyone to live on that amount, which is designed to cover food, toiletries, clothes, transport and phone costs – in fact everything except accommodation and utility bills. People are living like that for months, sometimes years. But as this story reveals, and it is repeated all over the country, those in receipt of this pittance frequently have to share it with friends, who receive absolutely nothing.
Refused asylum seekers only get support if they’re taking steps to leave the country or if they can’t leave. Many Zimbabweans in particular have been in a cruel limbo for years, having had asylum claims refused but unable to return to Zimbabwe – a situation the government accepts in its policy of no forcible removals (because of the dangers awaiting anyone who is not a paid-up Mugabe supporter), while denying many even the most basic support on the grounds that they can return voluntarily! No it doesn’t make sense. Somalis, Iraqis, Afghanis, Eritreans and Iranians are in a similar situation.