Estelle Worthington, Regional Activism Co-ordinator, North West, Regional Asylum Activism Project has been supporting City of Sanctuary groups in the North West to follow up the positive energy of the Sanctuary in Parliament event. That mixture of emotive stories, strong evidence from across the country and discussions with local constituents who really care about making the UK a welcoming place for sanctuary seekers really seems to have worked!
CoS members have had several discussions with local MPs and so far got the following responses:
– John Leech MP (Lib Dem representative for Manchester Withington) has been in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions to raise concerns that refugees are becoming destitute in the ‘move on’ period. He used the recommendations in the Red Cross report, and the Department of Work and Pensions have now replied to say they are taking action and have committed to a meeting with a Home Office minister and the Red Cross team to look at how they can resolve the problem (more info below).
– Mark Hunter MP (Lib Dem rep for Cheadle) signed Early Day Motion 99 this week about raising asylum support rates.
– Julie Hilling MP (Labour rep for Bolton West and Opposition Whip) made some very supportive comments about asylum seekers who have settled in Bolton amidst a media storm about the numbers of people being dispersed locally.
– Luciana Berger MP (Labour rep for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Public Health) has agreed to attend a Liverpool CoS event in January recognising the work of local refugee organisations and highlighting the problems facing people whose cases are refused by the Home Office.
This is really encouraging, and something we can keep building on with the Sanctuary Summit.
Have you written to your city MPs to share the Sanctuary in Parliament report and ask them to return postcards telling us about their interests around sanctuary matters? Are you coming along to the Engaging MPs workshop at the Sanctuary Summit? Or the Effective campaigning and working with local councils one? These are just two of the 15 workshops on offer during the day on 15th November in Birmingham to stimulate confidence in action and to build momentum for positive change.
See also our article supporting the Refugee Action campaign to tweet MPs to sign the Early Day Motion 99.