Who Are We?
Regional Asylum Activism was founded in June 2012 out of a partnership between the Still Human Still Here coalition, Student Action for Refugees (STAR) and the Network for Social Change. We have three regional activism coordinators across England, based in Yorkshire and Humberside, the North West and the West Midlands and the work is coordinated by STAR.
What Do We Do?
We are building a movement for change by:
- Building Voice – working with people who have direct experience of the asylum process, and ensuring their voices are heard by decision makers; opinion formers and the wider public. Share and Inspire – Click here for illustrations of how we Build Voice.
- Shifting Attitudes – breaking the damaging cycle of misinformation and making sure people get the real story behind why people seek refugee protection, and their experiences in the UK. We aim to work with as diverse a community as possible; find new allies; and inspire people to join the call for change. Share and Inspire – Click here for illustrations of how we Shift Attitudes.
- Effecting Policy Change – working with local decision makers at all levels of policy making, aiming to bridge the gap between national lobbying and local activism, and create opportunities for dialogue about how change can happen. Share and Inspire – Click here for illustrations of how we Effect Policy Change.
People fleeing war, torture and persecution in the UK are met with disbelief, poverty, abuse on the streets and a complicated, inaccurate asylum process. Much of this has been led by public opinion, guided often by a hostile media. Polls have found:
– 78% of the public think that the main reason people seek asylum in the UK is for state benefits, in reality 75% of asylum seekers did not expect to receive any support in the UK.
– People vastly overestimate the number of people who seek asylum in the UK, for example when asked to think about immigrants, people were most likely to think of asylum seekers (62%) and least likely to think of students (29%), however the highest number of people coming to the UK are students (37%) and the lowest number are asylum seekers (4%)
– 56% of people want to reduce the number of people seeking asylum in the UK
Government has responded to this negative public opinion with increasingly harsh legislation while operating an inaccurate process for deciding who should be granted asylum.
– 25% of all decisions to refuse asylum are overturned on appeal
– Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and must live on £36.62 per week
– Thousands of people who are refused asylum have this small support removed and are left destitute reliant on charities such as The British Red Cross for hand outs
We believe that these negative attitudes and policies are very damaging to refugees, asylum seekers and the wider community. They work against humanitarian principles and community cohesion and do not uphold Britain’s commitment to the UN Refugee Convention.
To change this we have to get the public behind us. In our experience people will support policy change if they are furnished with the facts and meet the people who are suffering as a result. Once public opinion has shifted, policy makers will feel able to make positive changes to the asylum system.
Our vision for a fairer and more humane asylum process is outlined below:
– Improve decision making and ensure that all those in need of protection receive it;
– Provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with sufficient support so that they can meet their essential living needs while they remain in the UK;
– Grant asylum seekers permission to work if their case has not been resolved within six months or they have been refused, but temporarily cannot be returned through no fault of their own;
– Provide free access to healthcare for all asylum seekers while they are in the UK.
Profiles of Project Mentors and Funders
Still Human Still Here:
Still Human Still Here is a coalition of over 60 groups, including City Councils, national charities and local organisations that call for the end of the use of destitution as a policy tool within the asylum process. Regional Asylum Activism works very closely with SHSH and shares similar advocacy goals.
Student Action for Refugees:
Student Action for Refugees is a national charity of over 12,000 students that work to welcome refugees to the UK. STAR is made up of over 30 groups at universities across the UK and a national team which coordinates and supports the groups. STAR is a member of the Still Human Still Here campaign.
Network for Social Change:
The Network for Social Change is a group of individuals providing anonymous funding for progressive social change, particularly in the areas of justice, peace and the environment.