Presentation on theme: "Leicester Working to create a culture of welcome in the City and County of Leicester Registered charity no 1138017"— Presentation transcript:
Leicester Working to create a culture of welcome in the City and County of Leicester Registered charity no 1138017 www.cityofsanctuary.org/leicester http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/video
Not all immigrants are asylum seekers Students Economic migrants from within the EU Economic migrants from outside the EU who come to work in this country and have a job to go to and permission to work “Illegal immigrants” who come here to work but do not have permission to do so Family members of people already here Asylum seekers and refugees
What is a refugee? “Someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
What is an asylum seeker? An asylum seeker is a person who applies for the right to stay in another country. He or she is not yet a refugee and will only become a refugee when granted “leave to remain” In the UK this process may take TEN YEARS or more
Where do asylum seekers come from? AfghanistanEgypt AlbaniaEritrea AlgeriaEthiopia AntiguaGambia AzerbaijanGhana BurundiIndia CameroonIran ChinaIraq CongoIvory Coast Darfur (W.Sudan)Jamaica
and KashmirPakistan KurdistanPunjab KuwaitRussia KyrgystanSenegal LiberiaSierra Leone LibyaSomalia MalawiSouth Africa MauritiusSri Lanka NepalSudan NigeriaSwaziland
and Syria Tanzania Togo Tunisia Turkey Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe 48 countries in total – and those are just where the people we have seen come from!
Who are asylum seekers and why do they need our help? People seek asylum because they have suffered persecution at home – even torture and imprisonment – simply for o supporting the ‘wrong’ political party o speaking out against corruption o being gay or marrying the ‘wrong’ person o belonging to the ‘wrong’ ethnic group or practising the ‘wrong’ religion o or to avoid FGM o and to escape conscription as a suicide bomber
How do they get here? Trafficking - tied labour and merciless exploitation Walking Boats, in and under lorries, planes Via prison, camps, living rough With or without papers Mostly with no more than the clothes on their backs
Numbers Around 600 asylum seekers currently live in Leicestershire – mostly in Leicester and Loughborough The UK takes around 2% of the world’s asylum seekers Far from being a “soft touch” we actually take less than our “fair share” of refugees and asylum seekers Most asylum seekers stay in the developing world - 80% of refugees are hosted by developing countries Pakistan is currently the country that takes the most asylum seekers (1.7million)
Myths The British Government lets them all stay They come here for the benefits They should apply for asylum in the first safe country they come to They are lazy and work shy They get to jump the queue for nice council houses They are criminals and terrorists What about ‘bogus’ asylum seekers?
Facts Less than 50% of asylum seekers get leave to remain A Home Office study showed that most asylum seekers know nothing of our benefit system before they arrive Anyone can claim asylum anywhere They are not allowed to take paid work They are not housed by the council but by private landlords in “hard to let” housing through G4S There is no evidence that asylum seekers are more likely to be criminals or terrorists than anyone else There is no such thing as a “bogus asylum seeker!”
Getting leave to remain is very complicated and takes a very long time … Many asylum seekers have no legal representation – cut-backs in legal aid has made things even harder Interpretation services are often poor Immigration officials are sometimes poorly trained and racist Until you have a decision you live in limbo and are unable to take paid work Current back log is over 32,600 cases and growing
Is not being allowed to work the main problem? No… You get to live in substandard housing and £5 a day to live on – but often not in cash You cannot choose where you live You can be moved anywhere in the country at 48 hours notice People think you are scum …
… in fact you are treated like a criminal When you arrive you are fingerprinted Photographed Issued with an ID card You must report to the Immigration Centre at regular intervals – usually once a fortnight You can be locked up at any time – even if you are a child ….
.. and after all that there’s no guarantee you will be granted status … Around 30% of cases are granted refugee status at the first hearing Another 35% of the remainder are granted status on appeal Where status is refused it is often because of lack of evidence Or because the UKBA does not believe the asylum seeker or thinks their evidence is faked Or through ignorance about conditions in the asylum seeker’s country
What do we do? We opened a drop-in centre Thursdays 1-4pm at St Martins House by the cathedral Provides free lunches and bus fares Access to sewing machines and laptops Games and activities, cups of tea and a chat Opportunity to meet new people and make friends
We now have several musicians who come and perform for us from time to time
Visiting dignitaries: Deputy Mayor, Rory Palmer, MP Jon Ashworth, City Mayor Peter Soulsby
Numbers attending the drop-in centre We opened in May 2011. 7 asylum seekers and 6 volunteers came to that first session. On June 13 th this year 63 asylum seekers/refugees and 15 volunteers/visitors attended the drop-in centre! Since we opened we have seen over 700 individual clients. Many describe the centre as a ‘life line’.
Costs A simple hot lunch costs £60 per week We pay people’s bus fares. Over the last 8 weeks these have jumped from £98 to over £130 a week In total it costs +/- £10,000 a year to run the centre, even though the premises and utilities are provided free by St Martin’s House
In addition we run English classes and art classes ….
There are other schemes too … Appealing4 Shopping buddies New Evidence Search Team - N.E.S.T. English classes Respite Hosting Scheme Planning for IT classes and possibly sewing Planning for a Welcome and orientation project for new arrivals
“Until we discovered Leicester City of Sanctuary we were depressed, we didn’t know what to do, we stayed at home all day.”
We need your help to: Raise money so we can continue our work It can be easy – just text 70070 with the message LCOS13 £2 (or £5 or £10) or covenant monthly Tell other people about us and challenge negative stereotypes when you hear them Become a supporter Or a friend Or a volunteer
And most importantly to challenge the myths and tell the truth about sanctuary seekers to help develop a culture of welcome and hospitality