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Lift the Ban update

Update: 28 March 2019

Lift the Ban wins Best Coalition Campaign award

The National Campaigner Awards Ceremony organised by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation celebrates the best campaigns and campaigners – whether working locally or nationally, and from individuals and community groups to people working in large organisations. The Best Coalition Campaign award category recognises campaigns led by multiple partners in ways which are creative, respectful and genuinely collaborative.

Sharing this brilliant news, Asylum Matters said 'we are delighted that the award has recognised the collective energy and vision of all 175 members of the Lift the Ban coalition.'

 

Update: 6 March 2019

An amendment on the right to work was tabled to the Government’s Immigration Bill by Catherine West and Kate Green. Given the narrow scope of the bill, its focus was on EEA nationals rather than on all people seeking asylum, but with the aim of generating a broader debate on the issue by the Bill Committee. The amendment was debated this week, with the Immigration Minister engaging at length on the topic and setting out the Government’s position on the issue.

She noted, “we recognise the importance of getting both the policy and the process right, which is why the Home Secretary has already committed to a review of the policy on asylum seekers’ right to work. Officials are already undertaking that review, looking at available evidence and anticipating the economic impact that such changes might bring about.” The amendment was ultimately withdrawn given its limited scope. We are meeting with Home Office officials next week to hear their latest thinking on plans for the review.

This week, the annual immigration statistics were released which showed that the number of people waiting more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim has risen to record levels. 

 

Update: 4 February 2019

Last month, Newcastle City Council approved a motion in support to Lift the Ban on the right to work for people seeking asylum who have been waiting for a decision for more than six months. Last week, Gateshead Council became the latest local authority to also support the campaign.

The coalition has now reached an impressive 150 members.

 

Update: 4 January 2019

Highlights from the latest Lift the Ban coalition email update, including a feature from ourselves about local campaigning!

Lift the Ban Coalition Gathering – Monday 21 Jan 2019

Plans for the next gathering of the coalition are taking shape, and we will be holding an afternoon event in January in order to discuss progress to date, to welcome new members to the coalition, and to set plans for the next phase of the campaign. Partners are also very much encouraged to share an update on their campaigning – let us know if you would like to!

Register via eventbrite

Media & parliamentary update

Despite the current political turmoil, the campaign has continued to generate strong coverage in the media and more attention from parliamentarians this week.
Nahla, who spoke to MPs and peers at the Lift The Ban event in parliament last week, has authored a great blog which was published in the i newspaper this week; while Aisha, who also attended the event and spoke to MPs about the campaign, has written about her experiences in this powerful blog published on the Refugee Action website.
Meanwhile, Catherine West MP has written this letter in The Guardian laying out the case for reform. Keith Vaz MP has also put more pressure on the Government, tabling this written question highlighting the restrictive nature of the Shortage Occupation List.

Brilliant local campaigning

And finally, but by no means least, we’ve had this wonderful account from coalition member Newcastle CVS about the campaigning they have been doing on Lift the Ban, and the success they’ve had as a result. We wanted to share it with you all!

We are a Council for Voluntary Service (a Local Infrastructure Organisation) that supports voluntary and community organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead. We also run a range of advocacy services, including support to BAME communities. We are a hate crime reporting centre. We also run HAREF, a project focussing on health and race equality and a BAME public health project. So our everyday work supports asylum seekers and refugees. We hear about their lives and experiences and we try to (respectfully) use their stories to influence change.

I was on the Politics Show with the Bishop of Durham some months ago when he described Lifting The Ban. It made complete sense to me - economically, politically, and from a social justice / equality perspective. It reflected a number of the stories we had heard. At Newcastle CVS, our role isn’t just about support to people, communities and organisations, but trying to influence decision-makers (particularly around poverty and inequality). We have 730 member organisations and good relationships with our local councils, councillors, MPs, and other public sector partners.

Our (mini) campaign has been to write to MPs and Council Leaders with local examples. All responses have been positive, and Newcastle City Council will adopt the resolution to Lift The Ban next year. We have run a social media campaign linking into national activity, I’ve done a blog, and we have put information into our fortnightly bulletin, which goes to over 1,000 recipients. We will run an article in our next newsletter, which goes to over 2000 recipients. I’m hoping to do another local radio interview.

This mini-campaign has probably cost us less than 20 hours of time, but has raised the profile of Lift The Ban. Hopefully soon to be Lifted The Ban!

 

Update: 21 October 2018

Last week saw the launch of Lift The Ban, a campaign from a coalition of organisations who have come together to call on the Government to give people seeking asylum the right to work. The coalition includes a range of organisations, unions, think tanks, faith groups and businesses. 

Lift the Ban has published a new report about why people people seeking asylum should have the right to work. The report analysed a survey of 246 people with direct experience of the asylum seeking process and also debunked a number of common misconceptions about the implications or lifting the ban. 

The UK currently has one of the longest waiting periods of 12 months before people seeking asylum are given a right to work but even then this is limited to jobs that are on the Government's restricted Shortage Occupation List. At present, over 50% of asylum claims take longer than six months and people seeking asylum are given just £5.39 per day to meet all of their essential living costs. 94% of respondents to the survey said they would like to work if they were given permission to do so and a recent study from British Future found that more than two thirds of the public agreed that people seeking asylum should have the right to work.

On Wednesday 24 October MPs will debate the issue in Parliament.

How to get involved in the campaign

We have written to the five local MPs asking them to note the issues and respond, and attend the debate in Westminster hall on Wednesday. 

Lift the Ban has produced a Local Activism Pack with advice and information about how you can get involved in the campaign, including templates and suggestions for letters.

There is an online petition for individuals to sign or you can print and sign a petition sheet.

Groups can also host a Lift the Ban Ben&Jerry's Film Night; pick a film, enjoy some free ice cream and sign the petition. Ice cream vouchers can be obtained by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and they have also suggested a film 8 Borders 8 Days which can be downloaded for free as part of this package.