A few weeks ago, we set out our recommendations for a safe and accessible asylum system during and beyond Covid-19.

Today, the Home Secretary Priti Patel will appear in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee, so we would like to remind her of our key asks.

Our recommendations are based on the situation facing many of the people we work with right now, as we all grapple with the new reality of life during a pandemic.

The Covid crisis has forced people further into isolation and poverty, and every day our advisors hear from individuals and families who are really struggling.

This is Leila’s story.

Leila lives with her husband and three young children in Glasgow. The family have no recourse to public funds conditions placed on them. This means that they are not allowed to receive lifeline services, such as mainstream benefits or statutory homelessness services. They lost their ASPEN card four weeks ago – that’s the card into which their meagre emergency allowance for families who have been refused asylum is paid. This is around £5 per person per day. They reported this loss immediately, applying for both an emergency payment and a new ASPEN card.

The Home Office did not respond to their request. Leila and her husband were forced to borrow money from friends, but with so many people struggling in the current crisis, this ran out quickly too.

Leila contacted Scottish Refugee Council’s helpline in a state of distress. Her children had not eaten anything in nearly 48 hours.

We helped the family to get a £100 emergency payment from the Home Office whilst they await their new ASPEN card, and social work services agreed to provide emergency food parcels to the family. But they should never have been allowed to fall into a crisis like this in the first place.

Leila and her family are not alone in this situation and their story highlights the urgent need for a safe and accessible asylum system during Covid-19.

We welcome that the Home Secretary has agreed to one of our key asks, that all those recognised as refugees must automatically remain on full asylum support until they have been successfully moved onto full social security provision. This shows it can be done. We encourage her to adopt the others.

Please listen to Leila’s story Home Secretary. You have the power to make these changes and to keep families and children like Leila’s safe from harm.

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah