What is the fund for?
The ASSF fund is set up to help Asylum Seekers whose claims have been refused and have no means of support. The aim of the fund is to try to help refused Asylum Seekers cope in the interim period whilst they try to mount a new claim. We work to raise food, financial support and awareness of the destitution faced by refused Asylum Seekers.
How do Asylum Seekers become destitute in this country?
Government policies do not provide support for people who have had their claims rejected. When asylum claims are rejected and the person is at the ‘end of process’, they have no legal right to housing, benefits or support. They do have access to Doctors and at the moment don’t have to pay for prescriptions. They are recognised as being in the country and have to report to the Home Office at given times. They are not illegal, the Government knows they are here – but does not support them.
Asylum Seekers whose cases are rejected face some stark choices; return to their country of origin, and face persecution or stay in this country and try to mount a new claim. To mount a new claim Asylum Seekers need to produce new evidence. Not being able to access evidence is a major contributor to initial claims being rejected. If you are fleeing for your life, you don’t necessarily stop to get your documents or proof of identity.
There are various reasons why rejected Asylum Seekers do not return to their country of origin – for example, if they have no documentation to say they came from a particular country, then that country will not accept them as a citizen. Without evidence to prove who they are no country will accept them. They become stateless. If this country deems it unsafe to return a person to a particular country, and the Asylum Seeker cannot make their own way back, then they are stuck in this country – destitute.
Some Asylum Seekers apply to the Home Office for “section 4 support” while they try to mount a further claim; this provides them with accommodation and an ARC card that make available a small payment each week. To receive section 4 the Asylum Seeker must agree to return to their country of origin if their claim fails. If their claim does fail and they do not leave the country within a given period they can be forcibly removed from the country.
People who are stateless or there is doubt over their country of origin, predominately single people, find themselves in the position of not qualifying for section 4 and not being able to return to their country. They become destitute. Some ‘sofa surf’, some sleep rough – all are vulnerable to exploitation.
Asylum Seekers and destitute Asylum Seekers are not permitted to work.
How does the ASSF help?
- We raise funds to enable the destitute Asylum Seekers to travel to agencies that can provide support – many are in Leeds. Funds enable mobile phone contact which is essential for crucial contacts with the Refugee Council, solicitors, interpreters and embassies. Mobile phones, when you have no address, are a lifeline to family, friends and officialdom.
- We collect food which is then given to destitute Asylum Seekers so they can share or contribute to the homes that offer them hospitality.
- We provide practical help and support, such as accompanying people when they have to report to the Home Office.
- With others we try to support ‘Hosting” – taking people in to our homes for a night or for longer. People are hosting destitute Asylum Seekers in Wakefield but we need a wider network of support.
How to help the ASSF
- donate money
- donate food or help us buy it
- donate good quality used clothing
- offer to befriend a destitute Asylum Seeker,
- consider being part of a hosting scheme.
However, the long-term solution is raising awareness of the situation. Other groups and organizations are campaigning for policy change – add your voice – call for a change in a system that knowingly makes people destitute. Find out more from the following sources and let us try to change an unfair system.
Still Human Still Here https://stillhumanstillhere.wordpress.com/
Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/
The European Network on Statelessness https://www.statelessness.eu/