New Year, New Challenges

family keywork

We’ve had a quiet few weeks over the festive period, but have been keeping a wary eye on the media. The news cycle has pounced on a couple of people trying to cross the Channel in dinghies, blaring “CHANNEL MIGRANT CRISIS” out of every screen and speaker, seizing on the opportunity to diminish the experience and humanity of less than 250 people fleeing persecution and terror. 2018 finished with a bleak Immigration White Paper, and our Home Secretary Sajid cutting his holiday short to deal with something that was not a migrant crisis, but a moral crisis.

2019 brings untold challenges. As we brace ourselves for the uncertainty that leaving the European Union brings for us here in Scotland and for people across the UK, we would like to highlight some of our priorities for the year ahead.

Lift the Ban

Edinburgh Liberal Democrats MP Christine Jardine will bring a private members’ bill to parliament on Thursday, seeking to change the law so asylum seekers can work while waiting for their cases to be processed. Lift the Ban, a coalition of 80 organisations pushing for a change in the law, say the government could save £42 million a year if restrictions on working were eased. People are currently forced to live in poverty, struggling to support themselves and their families, whilst their talents and skills are wasted. Support the campaign here and #LiftTheBan!

 

Accommodation

In December, the Home Affairs Committee released a damning report on asylum accommodation contracts, displaying that housing across the UK for asylum seekers is degrading, and that the dispersal scheme itself may be imperilled by Home Office neglect. The contract for providing accommodation for asylum seekers has been held by Serco, who tried to evict 300 people from their homes in Glasgow in August. A hearing about this is to be held in late January. Today, Serco lost the contract in Scotland, and it will now be held by Mears Group, who have considerably more experience in managing housing and social care. 

 

DASS

We will be releasing a report later this month on the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service, which we run in collaboration with Refugee Survival Trust and British Red Cross, as well as various other stakeholders. The report is a comprehensive study of the situation affecting destitute asylum seekers in Scotland, and we aim to use it to push for real, constructive change at Scottish government level.

Separated children

Our Guardianship service is run in partnership with Aberlour Child Care Trust, and works with children and young people who have been separated from their parents, arriving in the UK traumatised, alone and lost, and often trafficked and exploited. Our service is a lifeline, helping young people come to terms with their experiences and new circumstances.

 

Family Reunion

The UK’s family reunion rules are extremely restrictive, only allowing spouses and children under the age of 18 to join their families in the UK. In 2017, a Private Members Bill by MP Angus MacNeil set about to change this, hoping to expand the definition of family beyond this restrictive measure, and to allow unaccompanied children in the UK to sponsor their family members to join them here. It passed its second reading in March 2018, and we are awaiting the next step – although things have gone quiet, and it is a challenging political climate to push for such change in.  We will work with various partners to continue to promote the development of this bill. In the meantime, please read and share this petition.



Refugee Festival Scotland

To end on a lighter note, we are looking forward to Refugee Festival Scotland 2019! We can’t tell you much more about it just yet, but we are already working hard to bring you an exciting and vibrant festival in June 2019 – watch this space for more details, and we look forward to seeing you there!