The Asylum Seekers Support Fund started in 2010 as a response to two destitute asylum seekers who had ‘no recourse to public funds’. Eight years on and both people are still battling with the Home Office for recognition as refugees. Having had their first cases rejected both made a second application, this time they applied on the grounds of statelessness. It took the Home Office 4 years to decide to reject their cases. Now, eight and a half years later, once again, they are both trying to gather fresh evidence for new cases. They struggle in limbo, not permitted to work, not receiving benefits and not knowing if they will be picked up and placed in detention. They are technically destitute, reliant on charity to survive, have no security and live in fear.
As the coordinator of a local Asylum Seekers Support Fund I am writing to ask people to raise the matter with their local MPs. The Asylum Seekers Support Fund would appreciate the local MPs questioning the Government’s policies of ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) and Indefinite Detention. In a democracy people have the right to ask the Government to change the policies that legalize poverty, destitution and detention within the asylum process. Organizations such as Liberty, Amnesty International, the City of Sanctuary and other National organizations are also calling for policy change.
Over the past 8 and a half years the Asylum Seekers Support Fund has supported over 100 people who have had NRPF; some for a matter of weeks or months, some for several years. Over the past year the numbers of refused asylum seekers needing support has steadily risen; currently we have 18 names on our weekly list. We offer staple foods, fresh fruit and veg, toiletries, £10 or £20 per week, moral support and friendship. We also signpost people to legal help.
As well as calling for policy change currently, due to the increase in people becoming destitute we urgently need financial support for the local Asylum Seekers Support Fund. As well as offering support to destitute asylum seekers we offer support to dispersed asylum seekers who have been given National Asylum Seekers Support (NASS) accommodation without financial benefits – sometimes they have to wait day or weeks for the benefits to come through. Added to this we offer support to new refugees who become destitute if they cannot find accommodation within the 28 – day change over period. All told, the demands on the fund is continually growing.
This country had a ‘proud tradition of welcoming asylum seekers’. However, over recent years the asylum process has become heartless, cruel, punitive and hostile. Seeking Asylum is a human right enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we are to uphold people’s basic rights we have to stand in solidarity and call for change. Whilst we are calling for change the Asylum Seekers Support Fund is trying to offer essential support and dignity. We would welcome practical help as well as moral support for vulnerable people forced to the edge of our society.
Thank you, and good wishes,
ASSF Coordinator ([email protected] 07800605397)
C/O Quaker Meeting House, Thornhill Street, WF1 1NQ
City of Sanctuary offers a welcome, hospitality and friendship to Asylum Seekers and Refugees of all faiths and no faith
Asylum Seekers Support Fund: Sort Code 30-99-01 Account Number 17824568