Presentation on theme: "Campaigning for positive change to the asylum system Estelle Worthington, Regional Asylum Activism."— Presentation transcript:
Campaigning for positive change to the asylum system Estelle Worthington, Regional Asylum Activism
This workshop: Public attitudes and media messaging around asylum. Initiatives to inform and change attitudes about asylum seekers and refugees. What are some of the issues currently affecting people who seek protection from persecution here in the UK? Current campaigns, and how you can get involved. Introduction
Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
Hostile public attitudes to asylum are based on two main (misguided) perceptions: There are too many asylum seekers in the UK, and we take more than our fair share. Most asylum seekers are not genuine and come to the UK to take advantage of benefits, housing, and healthcare without contributing. Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
There’s a perception there are too many asylum seekers in the UK: 72% of people thought there were more than 100,000 applications for asylum in 2009. (Refugee Council, March 2011) 62% of people thought that more than 5% of the UK population have been granted asylum, and 40% believed that more than 10% of the population – that’s six million people - are refugees. (British Future, January 2012) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
Confusion over Immigration and Asylum: 62% of people think of asylum seekers when talking about immigration. Asylum seekers make up only 4% of arrivals to the UK. (Migration Observatory/ Ipsos Mori, 2011) A third of people polled thought more than 30% of people in the UK are immigrants. This would be equal to 20 million people. The actual number is 7.4 million. (British Future, January 2012) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
Negative perceptions about Immigration and Asylum: In the UK, people see immigration as more of a problem than an opportunity, and 30% chose immigration as their top or second most important concern (only 18% in France, Spain, Germany and Italy). (Transatlantic Trends, Sept. 2011). Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
Variations in perception in terms of geography: While nationally the majority want to reduce the number of asylum seekers, in London and in Scotland the figure is around 40%. (The Migration Observatory, October 2011) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum Public Attitudes in the NW When asked whether they think "asylum seekers who have suffered persecution in their own country should be allowed to stay in Britain" 47% agree 24% neither agree nor disagree 29%disagree Source: British Social Attitudes Survey 2011
Variations in perception in terms of demography: 30-39 age group – more sympathetic to those fleeing threats to their safety or freedom (62%, average is 50% 60-69 age group – more unsympathetic or very unsympathetic (31%, average is 24%) (Refugee Council, March 2011) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
Narrative/ Language There is support for protecting individuals who are at risk, but terminology is an issue. The majority agree that ‘protecting the most vulnerable is a core British value’. (Refugee Council, March 2011) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum Different language, different results: Just under 50% were sympathetic/very sympathetic towards those who due to threats to their safety or freedom come to Britain (only 36% when asked about refugees), 24% were unsympathetic/very unsympathetic (rising to 31% when asked about refugees). (Refugee Council, March 2011)
Negative perceptions are not generally a result of direct experience: 76% of Britons see immigration as a big national problem, but only 15% see it as a problem in their own area. (Searchlight, 2011). 70% had never met an asylum seeker or didn’t know if they had. (Centre for Social Justice, August 2008) Public Attitudes and Media Messaging About Asylum
The political response does not recognise these nuances: Labour and the Conservatives generally devise policies they think will be popular, rather than correct misconceptions. Political Response Negative cycle: Constant legislative reform Political attacks for being ‘soft’ or ‘incompetent’ on immigration/asylum Perceived failure to deliver on stated policies…all undermine public confidence.
Political Messaging About Asylum
Using what we know to turn things around: People are sympathetic to asylum seekers and refugees when they know the facts. The challenge is trying to get them to engage with the issue. Requires effective communication and finding the right messengers (that they will listen to and trust)…. Engaging Public Opinion and Shifting Attitudes
Awareness raising and myth busting – talks, workshops, events available from many organisations including MRSN, Revive Action Group, Refugee Action, British Red Cross Celebrating positive contributions of refugees – Refugee Week (17-23 rd June), Platforma Festival Creating opportunities to meet face to face – City of Sanctuary and many local organisations Challenging negative media reporting – Migrant Voice, Migration Observatory Campaigning How can we inform and change attitudes about asylum seekers?
Access to Justice and Protection Unjust and unreliable asylum process - poor decision making and a culture of disbelief Limited or no access to quality legal representation Destitution, detention and deportation Wellbeing and support Low levels of support and delays in accessing support Risk of forced destitution Multiple barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare Housing – no choice dispersal and poor quality of accommodation Issues currently affecting asylum seekers in the UK
Belonging, Contributing and Integrating Limited access to education (especially Higher Education) Limited access to ESOL No right to work Challenges following a positive decision 28 day transition Finding employment Welfare benefits changes Access to Family Re-union What problems do asylum seekers in the UK experience?
Campaigning to end destitution in the asylum process - Lobbying nationally Improve decision making to ensure protection for all those who need it. Ensure all asylum seekers are provided with sufficient support to meet their essential living needs while they remain in the UK. Ensure free access to healthcare for all asylum seekers while in the UK. Grant asylum seekers permission to work if their cases are not resolved in six months or they have been refused but cannot be returned through no fault of their own. Current campaigns
Local campaigns to end destitution in the asylum process - United for Change No to cashlessness, no to homelessness Strengthening Refugee Voices Locally A strong voice in work of the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission Meeting with Kate Green MP Current Campaigns
National consultation on access to healthcare Get involved! Help gather evidence in advance of consultation in June – July 2013 on: Existing difficulties in accessing a GP and/or secondary healthcare, and Any negative health implications that have arisen due to late treatment resulting from an inability to access GPs Send any evidence or case studies to Mike Kaye (Still Human Still Here, 020 7033 1600 / Mike.Kaye@amnesty.org.uk).Mike.Kaye@amnesty.org.uk Campaigning for better access to healthcare
Campaigning to raise support levels Asylum support rates should be equivalent to at least 70% of Income Support Section 4 support should be abolished (replaced by Section 95 for those eligible) See: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/parliamentary-inquiry- asylum-support-childrenhttp://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/parliamentary-inquiry- asylum-support-children Get involved! Email your MP: http://action.childrenssociety.org.uk/page/speakout/asylum- support http://action.childrenssociety.org.uk/page/speakout/asylum- support Other Current Campaigns
Access to Higher Education STAR Equal Access Campaign http://www.star- network.org.uk/index.php/campaigns/equal_access Protecting pregnant women seeking asylum Maternity Action and Refugee Council - http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/dignityinpregnancy http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/dignityinpregnancy Other Current Campaigns
Join our mailing list and receive ‘Be the Change’ Updates Please get in touch: Estelle Worthington, Regional Activism Co-ordinator Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 07557983264 email@example.com Further Information