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Rebecca Scott pic of Sabir Zazai
Sabir Zazai speaking at the 'Sanctuary in Parliament' event

Our CEO Sabir Zazai tells us about his recent visit to the Houses of Parliament to join others in speaking up for a fairer asylum system.

People from across the UK travelled to Westminister on Monday to join MPs and activists to advocate for a fairer asylum system, as part of City of Sanctuary’s annual ‘Sanctuary in Parliament’ event.

As the chair of City of Sanctuary UK, I am proud to be part of a growing network of individuals, communities, and organisations determined to make lives better for those seeking sanctuary in the UK. These are people who are working hard to ensure our communities and neighbourhoods are more welcoming for those who need our protection.  They try to influence UK government policy and advocate for a more humane and just asylum system.

‘Sanctuary in Parliament’ this year focused on three campaigns: asylum seekers right to work, refugee family reunion and ending indefinite immigration detention.

The event received cross-party support. Alongside Members of Parliament, people currently going through the system gave attendees an opportunity to hear powerful and moving accounts of how UK government immigration policies put people through hardship.

Many ordinary people from different backgrounds opposing these policies attended the event. For me, this was a clear indication of the divide between public opinion and policy on immigration. These people had travelled miles to tell MPs that these hostile policies are not in their names and that they want people seeking sanctuary in their communities to be treated with dignity and respect.

This act of solidarity reflects many other examples where people and communities have taken action in response to policies that undermine our values of human rights and tradition of being a welcoming place for those who need our protection.

In 2015 the public put pressure on the UK government to make a meaningful commitment to resettle Syrian refugees. In Scotland, we are proud that all 32 local authorities made that commitment and 31 of those have already resettled people. Earlier this year, the people of Glasgow stopped, at least for now, the awful evictions proposed by Serco. And only this week the sector had a momentous legal victory against the UK Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, where our friends at Migrants’ Rights Network and Liberty won a legal battle that led to the government stopping the data sharing deal between NHS and the Home Office.

I believe if we organise, collaborate and keep the momentum we can win many battles that will make lives better for those who are seeking protection in our communities.

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Join us, get involved, take action…

Below you can find out what you can do to campaign for a fairer and more dignified asylum system.  

Right to work – #LiftTheBan

Right now people seeking asylum are banned from working and are left to live on just £5.39 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families, whilst the Government wastes the talents of thousands of people. Scottish Refugee Council is part of the Lift the Ban coalition working to change this. Together, we believe we can #LiftTheBan and ensure that people seeking safety in the UK have the right to work. You can find out more about #LiftTheBan, download an activism pack and sign the petition on the campaign's website.

Family Reunion – #FamiliesTogether

Family life is important for us all but restrictive rules are keeping refugee families apart. People have lost their homes, been separated from their families and all that they know. Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who have been torn apart, lost everything and experienced so much, deserve a chance to rebuild their lives and have safe, happy futures together.. Find out more here

Ending Indefinite Immigration Detention – #Time4aTimeLimit

In the UK people are detained without any time limit. More and more people are being detained for years. The UK is the only country in the European Union which does not have a time limit on depriving people of their freedom and having long-standing detrimental impacts on people and society.

We need to stop indefinite detention and adopt a 28-day time limit. The UK Government should invest in refugee support agencies to develop and promote alternatives to detention. Find out more here

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