Edinburgh ‘Sleep Out’ to highlight the plight of destitute asylum seekers during Refugee Week

 

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release

Edinburgh ‘Sleep Out’ to highlight the plight of destitute asylum seekers

Friday 19 June, 8.30pm

St John’s Church, Edinburgh, EH2 4BL

 

A 12-hour ‘Sleep Out’ is being held in Edinburgh to highlight shockingly high levels of destitution amongst asylum seekers.

 

Organisers Amnesty St Marks group are inviting people to bring their sleeping bags and join campaigners who will spend the night outside St John’s Church in Edinburgh. The Sleep Out, which is part of the Refugee Week Scotland 2009 programme, aims to raise awareness of the plight of asylum seekers who have been denied financial help and are without housing, food or any means of support.

 

Jenna Baylis, Sleep Out Co-ordinator, said: “We really want to raise people’s awareness of this important issue and highlight the desperate situation that asylum seekers can find themselves in.”

 

A recent survey conducted by Scottish Refugee Council, which co-ordinates Refugee Week Scotland, found that 52 per cent of asylum seekers and refugees using refugee advice services in Scotland had no access to any benefits or support. Many ended up on the streets, or were temporarily staying with friends or acquaintances.

 

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “As our recent Destitution Tally showed, the number of destitute asylum seekers coming to us for help continues to be harrowing.

 

“The system continues to fail some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Many asylum seekers and refugees want to return home when it is safe for them to do so. Until then, under no circumstances should we be leaving people to starve.”

 

Images are available. Contact Clare Harris/ Karin Goodwin, Media and Communications Officers: 0141 223 7927, 07734 030 763

media@scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk

 

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Notes to Editors

 

  1. For the full Refugee Week Scotland 2009 programme go to http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/Ref_Week_Prog

 

  1. Refugee Week Scotland is coordinated by Scottish Refugee Council, www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk, and is a partner event with Homecoming Scotland.

 

  1. Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. Refugee Week 2009 will take place from 15th to 21st June.

 

  1. The purpose of Refugee Week is to deliver positive educational messages that counter fear, ignorance and negative stereotypes of refugees, through arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.

 

Refugee Week was first held in 1998, and was created in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain. It remains the only UK-wide event that promotes the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.