This year we will be focusing on the ‘Still Human Still Here’ campaign which is a collaboration between more than 50 organisations including STAR that are campaigning for a fairer UK asylum system in which no person is forced into homeless or destitution.
Why is asylum seeker destitution a problem in the UK?
Tens of thousands of people who have fled war, torture and political oppression are destitute in Britain. This means they are unable to meet one or all of the essential living needs of food, clothing, shelter and health. Current policy is leaving asylum seekers without adequate financial support and stopping them from working to support themselves. Even though they are legally supported by the state, they often live in poor housing and conditions of extreme poverty. From the 10th August 2015, every asylum seeker will be forced to subsist on £36.95 regardless of their particular circumstances or needs. To put that in perspective, an unemployed UK citizen is entitled to receive between £59.70 and £73.10 weekly, in addition to other benefits that they may be eligible for. Contrary to common belief, asylum seekers cannot claim mainstream benefits that are available to UK citizens are are not eligible for council housing tenancy or housing benefit.
In recent years, thousands of asylum seekers whose claims for refugee status have been refused have also been forced into destitution and homelessness due to policies which leave them in state of limbo, without financial support or permission to work, but unable to return home.
What are we doing?
STAR Edinburgh wants to call on the government to recognise and remedy the problem of destitute asylum seekers in the UK. We will be doing this through writing letters to our local MSPs and MPs. We are also really keen to hear about your ideas for campaigning and how we can get these proposals on the government agenda:
- Provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with sufficient support so that they can meet their essential living needs while living in the UK.
- Provide free access to healthcare for all asylum seekers while they are in the UK.
- Grant asylum seekers permission to work if their case has not been resolved within six months or if they have been refused, but temporarily cannot be returned through no fault of their own.
- Improve decision making and ensure that all those in need of protection receive it.
The Scottish Refugee Council have made an excellent short video about the experiences of destitute asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland.