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Lift the Ban Days of Action in June

To keep momentum and increase the pressure on decision-makers to make policy change, Lift the Ban has proposed Days of Action in June. It encourages coalition members and their partners to pick a date which works best for their local context, including during Refugee Week and organise a lift the Ban Day of Action event.

The Home Office is currently reviewing the right to work policy; and while it is still far from certain if or when the Government might make any concessions, organisers of the campaign believe now is the best chance to mount pressure and demonstrate widespread public and political support for policy change.

In coming weeks coalition members will receive resources and materials to use including a guide to organising events, template invitations, template press releases, social media packs, etc.

Meanwhile, to prepare for your Lift the Ban Day of Action, here are three things you can do right now and need to be aware of:

1)      Pick a Date: Pick a date in June that works for you, your partners and other stakeholders that might want to take part. Remember that Fridays and Saturdays are usually when MPs are back in their constituencies. Consider whether a daytime or early evening event works best for those you’re hoping to invite.

2)      Pick a Location: As noted in the proposal, we’re hoping events will take place in iconic locations around the UK (notable monuments, bridges, squares or buildings!) to show the geographic spread of events and make for compelling photos. But you’ll also need to consider which locations are easy to reach, whether you need permission to gather in that space, what contingency plans could be if there is poor weather, etc. Once you’ve decided, try and secure this location as soon as possible.

3)      Send ‘Save the Dates’: Once you have a date and location, ask your partners, experts by experience and other community members to save the date in their diaries, while you’re working out further details. Next week we’ll share template invitations to MPs and Councillors which you can use to secure their participation. You don’t need to have all the details nailed down before asking some of your busier stakeholders to hold the time in their diaries!

The Lift the Ban organisers have put together a toolkit which you can can access via the links below.

In addition:

1)      Postcards: Lift the Ban coalition is  encouraging each event to feature a postcard-writing action where people write personalised messages to the Home Secretary in support of lifting the ban. Organisers are then asked to collect the postcards Lift the Ban post card and send them back to the secretariat (at Asylum Matters, c/o Amnesty International UK, Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA) so we can then send them on to the Home Office in one batch. We hope to collect thousands from people up and down the country!

2) Placards: Lift the Ban has two versions of the placards – one with a pre-written message Lift the Ban Placard 1 and the other is blank for people to add their own messages Lift the Ban Placard 2  and get creative. They’re keen to see the placards featured in all Lift the Ban events so do make sure to get a photo with your group holding the placards and share via #LiftTheBan.

Please get in touch with any questions or thoughts on the above by contacting Mary: [email protected].

MIN Voices video

The MIN Voices group at Lift The Ban and coalition member Maryhill Integration Network in Glasgow have produced an extraordinary video in support of the campaign. You can view the video on YouTube; on their Facebook page; or on their website. Whichever method you use, do please be sure to watch it and share it – it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

ACH: Report on Pilot Project & Learnings for Lift the Ban

Coalition member, ACH based in Bristol, recently ran a pilot project which facilitated visits from people seeking asylum to a cross-section of employers in Bristol and provided people with briefings on the local labour market and individual careers advice. The project found that, “asylum seekers consistently showed willingness and passion for wanting to work and contribute back to society, and most of all, get their lives back on track.”

In particular, it found that people had good levels of English and were highly qualified, with relevant education and skills from their home countries. They found that participants were highly motivated to get into work, and that businesses were also very receptive regarding allowing people seeking asylum to work. You can read more in the report here.

Quarterly Asylum Statistics

The quarterly asylum statistics have been released today and reveal that 18,734 people seeking asylum in the UK are waiting more than six months for their claim to be processed – an increase of 12% on the last quarter. Stephen Hale from Refugee Action has issued a quote on behalf of the Lift the Ban coalition:

“The Government’s own immigration statistics released today give us a sharp reminder of the people who are being forced to live in poverty without any way of supporting themselves and their families.

 “People seeking asylum want to use their skills and talents to contribute to society – not rely on the meagre £5.39 allowance per day. There are teachers, engineers, managers and pharmacists who all could be working while they wait for a decision on their asylum claim which can take months and even years.

 “It’s morally and economically wrong to trap people in limbo and in poverty. Over 180 organisations in the Lift the Ban coalition are working together to persuade the government to put this right. The Home Secretary undertook to review this policy back in December. It’s high time he acted and lifted the ban.”