Refugee Action – Basis Project Refugee community organisations – roles, potential and challenges SE Funders Forum 10 Dec 09
The asylum process
The role and challenges of RCOs in the South East
Reception, advice, information
Informing, influencing and campaigning
Access to employment and main stream services
Developing refugee communities
The Basis Project
Partnership Refugee Action – Refugee Council offering:
Capacity building for RCOs
- Training, 1:1 support
Awareness raising (funders, second tier orgs, RCOs)
“ In Britain, half a million ___________ find their home. They are never persecuted and in many respects they are given favoured treatment here. But now... they are overrunning the country.” Q1: Who said this, about whom and when?
“ In Britain, half a million Jews find their home. They are never persecuted and in many respects they are given favoured treatment here. But now... they are overrunning the country.”
1938, Sunday Express
Q1. Who said this, when?
Refugee vs. Asylum Seeker
Refugees vs. asylum seekers
Asylum seeker- A person who has left their country of origin, has applied for recognition as a refugee in another country, and is awaiting a decision on their asylum claim
Refugee - A person who, following their claim for asylum in the UK, has met the criteria laid out in Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Refused asylum seeker-
A person who hasn’t been able to prove that they would face persecution back home, has had their application turned down, is told to leave the country after the authorities have said ‘no, you can’t stay here’
There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker!
Economic migrant - A person who has moved to another country to work, could be legal or illegal.
Illegal immigrant - A person that arrives in a country and has no legal permission to be in that country. Has either not made themselves known to the authorities or has stayed longer than they were authorised to.
To qualify as a refugee a person must have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their:
Political opinion or membership of a social group
Percentage of world’s refugees living in UK?
The UK hosts 3% of the world’s refugees.
At the end of 2008, the UN estimated that there were 292,100 refugees living in the UK, that is 0.5% of the UK’s population
Where do refugees and asylum seekers come from?
Country producing largest no. of asylum seekers?
Sri Lanka (225)
Figures from Sep-Oct-Nov 2009 Home Office
2008 applications to the UK 19% of all applications in 2008 were granted refugee status (3,725 of 19,400)
Number of refugees in the SE?
Hard to tell:
Refugee Action – 3,700 face-to-face per year, and 5036 telephone contacts ( yearly figures)
*New refugees (RIES) : 255 (Oct 08-Sep 09)
Dover Detainees Visitor’s group : 80 released clients
Kent Refugee Help : 13 a year released on bail or after review
Kent unaccompanied asylum seekers: 300
Discretionary Leave to Remain (minors up to 18 th )
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Immigration status (after decision)
Characteristics of asylum process
high number of Home Office refusals before the appeal stage
limited access to legal representation
no choice accommodation dispersal
below poverty levels of asylum support
destitution of refused asylum seekers
limited educational and training opportunities
general isolation and social exclusion
Why people come to the UK?
Little choice about where to flee
Reliance on agents
For those that can choose, reasons include:
friends or family
believing UK is safe and democratic
previous links between their own country and the UK, including colonialism
speaking English or wishing to learn it
(Source: Robinson and Segrott 2002; Koser and Pinkerton 2002)
Weekly support for asylum seekers?
A single asylum seeker receives
Single over 18 £ 35.13
Job seekers: Single over 25 £ 64.30* Income support: Single £64.30* *These are general weekly amounts, they vary according to specific cases or circumstances
How do asylum seekers spend their money?
1. Gold teeth
4. Leather jackets
REALITY: 1.Phone calls 2.Bus fares 3.Food 4.Soap (Source: Mobiles, money and mayhem: the facts and fibs about asylum. www.refugee-action.org.uk)
Step in the shoes of the others
What does it feel like to become a refugee?
What are the barriers to integration?
How are refugees and asylum seekers
perceived in the UK?
Can experiences be different because of cultural expectations and gender roles?
Things to consider….
Asylum seekers and refugees are not economic migrants, they are fleeing persecution
Refugees can work and set-up businesses - depending on their immigration status
In general asylum seekers cannot work or set-up businesses
Things to consider…
Refugees face a complex set of restrictions on their ability to integrate
Employment and business set-up is key to integration
Asylum legislation is complicated and changes frequently impacting on the experiences of refugees and those working with them
A recent national survey of asylum seekers found:
54% qualified to NVQ3 or above
80% employed, self-employed or studying before UK
30% self-employed before UK
97% under 50 years of age
51% spoke two or more languages other than English
Waddington, S. Valuing skills and supporting integration (NIACE 2005) and Department for Work and Pensions (2006)
Meet immediate needs of refugees and asylum seekers – the shock absorber
Providing cultural and emotional support
A bridge to and between cultures
Raising awareness and understanding about refugees in the community
Contribution to community cohesion within own communities and externally
The role of RCOs
Where RCOs are 54 Source: Refugee Community Organisations in England- Realising Potential- Report by Refugee Action and Refugee Council July 2007. The numbers for SE are organisations in RA’s current database of RCOs
RCOs’ income Source: Refugee Community Organisations in England- Realising Potential- Report by Refugee Action and Refugee Council. July 2007
RCO diversity Refugee Community Organisations in England- Realising Potential- Report by Refugee Action and Refugee Council. July 2007
Most frequent in SE:
Asylum and immigration advice/signposting
Gay and lesbian
Challenges faced by RCOs
Complexity of community needs – reflecting individual needs and situations
Understanding of environment and isolation from debates
Funding – recession beginning to hit home
Relying on volunteers
Language and cultural barriers
Their role is not well understood by funders, policy makers and local authorities – eg resurgence of single group funding
Barriers to accessing funding
Communication and language
Lack of knowledge of funding criteria
Lack of independent referees
No access communication facilities
Barriers to accessing funding
Decision-making panel know little about refugees and asylum seekers
The support RCOs have or not
Staff knowledge (grants officers)
Kent Refugee Help
People in detention
Sureties or bail when possible
After release support
In 2009 13 successful cases, including 2 indefinite leave to remains
Oromo Community of Brighton
- Gateway refugees from Ethiopia
- Social events
Language classes for children and adults
Any questions? Beatriz Fernandez [email_address] Basis Project South East Region Refugee Action