We appear to be in the midst of a revolution of sorts. In just a few days (and at the time of writing) nearly 430,000 people have signed a petition asking the UK government to accept more people who are fleeing war and 83,000 have pledged to attend a day of mass action. Thousands of people have offered room in their homes to host refugees. Thousands are lobbying their councils to accept Syrian refugee families in their area.
The phones at ASSIST and City of Sanctuary are ringing constantly. Journalists want to speak to a refugee or asylum seeker. We support and are heartened by these grassroots campaigns and by the interest that the public has in welcoming asylum seekers.
We at ASSIST deal with refused asylum seekers. The UK asylum system is tough and negative decisions are often overturned. Negative decisions result in destitution, which no-one should have to endure, least of all those who have already suffered and lost so much.
We would welcome an immediate expansion of resettlement programmes so that people already displaced and devastated by war can travel directly and safely to take refuge in the UK. This would reduce loss of life among those who would otherwise seek to enter the UK by more dangerous means, and avoid asylum destitution among individuals once arrived.
At the same time for many asylum seekers already in the UK the difficult process and the destitution goes on, and we will continue to need support and resources to do our work regardless of the outcome of these important campaigns. Our hope is that these campaigns might mark a change in British politics and the policies which affect those seeking sanctuary.
If you want to support this grassroots effort to lobby the government to take more refugees here’s how:
Petition asking the government to take more refugees: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991.
If you want to support the ongoing work of ASSIST here’s how: