• Sarah

Thoughts on The Reality Of Seeking Asylum

Every where you go at the moment, there seems to be information that is being viewed as fact which just is not true and I have to say its really starting to bother me. I am sick of hearing 'facts' that I just know are incorrect and the sad thing is it very rarely gets challenged. The sad thing is that it then gets read and people believe it to be true as well. I guess you could say this is one of the reasons I started this blog to try and provide a place of education for other people who are curious like me and not happy to accept the information we are being given as fact. Today the focus is on the realities of seeking asylum and that this is not an easy process in which individuals are given everything they want. So lets break down the information which is being provided as 'fact'.

1) All they do is steal our jobs!!! I can't believe that people still say this. Lets get this out there first of all, the current UK policy is that asylum seekers are not able to work legally. If they wish to work, they have to make an application for permission and they must have waited for a decision on their initial asylum claim or a further submission for over 12 months and the reason for this delay must be assessed as not their fault. I can't find the definition of not their fault actually is so I can't provide this information unfortunately but from previous experience I would expect that it is very restrictive meaning that permission is rarely granted.

2) They just claim here to claim benefits!! Don't get me wrong, I think the idea of the benefits system is a wonderful one (in practice it has some clear faults - maybe this should be another blog post), but the idea that someone would endure an incredibly traumatic and dangerous journey at great personal, emotional and sometimes financial read just to sign on is laughable and ridiculous at best. However, just to further disprove the myth anyway. Asylum seekers do not claim state benefits.

Asylum seekers are assessed as to whether they need financial support under totally different legislation and if they do they are provided with £37.75 per week per member of the household. This is less than the finances provided on most state benefits and breaks down to just over £5 per day per household which has to buy all food, toiletries etc. Lets be honest, how can anyone survive on that little money? I challenge you give it a try and see if for a week you can buy all your food, clothing, toiletries, phone bills, internet costs and activities for £5 for every member of your household. I bet you have a miserable week.

Do I also need to highlight that point 1 and point two are direct contradictions and cant both be achieved but they are often seen grouped together!

3) They are all just given council flats!!! Again seems a little strange that someone would travel across the world in the circumstances which we know to be true just so they can get a council flat. No disrespect to council flats but it does seem like a strange position to take. Anyway, the reality is the local authority have no duty to provide housing assistance to any asylum seekers aside from asylum seeking children. For anyone else this support is provided by the Home Office who subcontract their housing support out to companies such as Serco.

Prior to receiving any accommodation individuals and families must first have an assessment. During this they will be provided with short-term accommodation which is usually hostel-type accommodation. Then once it has been confirmed they require accommodation support they can be dispersed across the UK (regardless of whether they have links with an area or not) to accommodation. This can technically be a lone occupancy property but usually is shared houses. There are plenty of reports on the quality of the accommodation that is afforded to asylum seekers but would encourage everyone to have a little google and to consider whether you would be happy to live there and raise your family? Just before the COVID-19 pandemic I saw photos of accommodation that had black mould, mice and insects all present.

4) Even failed asylum seekers get everything!!! The reality of being a refused asylum seeker is you are usually not entitled to any public funds. I plan to do a separate post about what this actually means but for the purpose of this blog post to summarise, nope as a failed asylum seeker you are no longer entitled to this support. You are given 21 days notice that this will end. The only exception is if you have children who are under 18 years of age. As a refused asylum seeker the only options available for you are destitution, engage with the removals process back to your country of origin or to submit a new asylum claim with fresh evidence.

Being entitled to no public funds is incredibly serious and even has an impact upon the health care you are entitled to receive. The 'hostile' environment created by the government has made life incredibly difficult for all asylum seekers including those who are refused and has provided an new atmosphere of mandatory reporting for basic human rights including the provision of health care.

Please note that currently the COVID-19 pandemic some of the information contained within this blog post has been amended by current policy. For example, numerous asylum seekers have been moved from their housing provisions and placed in hotels with the idea that this allowed for asylum seekers to be safer as they could socially distance. Some individuals are advising that this has not made them safer and they are unable to leave their bedrooms due to fear. What has also happened is that those who are living in hotel accommodation have had all their financial support stopped as the hotels provide meals. This has offered no consideration of the items that someone may need to purchase like phone credit etc. It is unclear what asylum support will look like after the pandemic but I imagine a lot of similarities to the above points and will update accordingly.

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