Sharing Stories of Sanctuary
As part of Welsh Refugee Council’s Asylum Rights Programme supporting those seeking sanctuary in Wales, refugees in Cardiff met with Jo Stevens MP, Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central, to share their stories of seeking safety in the UK.
The session, part of an ongoing programme of engagement helping those seeking sanctuary to meet with decision makers and share their experiences, also had the opportunity to learn more about how democracy works in Wales.
Welsh Refugee Council are committed to enabling asylum seekers and refugees have their voices heard and to provide channels of advocacy for those facing challenges while seeking safety in the UK. The group spoke about their desire to be able to work and contribute to society in the UK and Wales while they are waiting for their applications to be decided which often takes years. A recent report found allowing those in the asylum system to work could have a cost benefit to the UK of £97.8 million.
‘Mohammad from Syria says
“I was very excited to be involved in the session. It gave Refugee and Asylum Seekers the chance to share their experiences and problems and raise awareness of these issues. It shows that people in power like MPs are trying to be inclusive, and they are committed to give opportunities for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to be listened to. It is important to have mediators like the Welsh Refugee Council to reach out and connect with MPs like Jo Stevens. Welsh Refugee Council work around the clock to reach out and giving us the chance to go to the workshops.”
Jo Stevens MP said:
“I believe that Wales is a welcoming place for asylum seekers and refugees and I welcome the opportunity to listen to people’s experiences and to better understand how our role as politicians can positively influence the asylum system in Wales”
Holly Taylor, Executive Director of Policy and Communication at Welsh Refugee Council said:
“At Welsh Refugee Council, we are committed to empowering asylum seekers and refugees to build new futures in Wales. People seeking sanctuary in Wales often find it a challenge to have their voices heard by politicians and decision makers. The current coronavirus pandemic has made this additional challenging. We were delighted Jo Stevens MP took the time to meet with sanctuary seekers in Wales. It is important that we continue these conversations, to let people know their voices matter.”
Traveller of Hope – an asylum seeker
“I claimed asylum to find safe in the UK. after I experienced some difficulties in the shared house, I found myself unsafe, my life safety was in danger in the house I was abandoned in. The situation was not taken seriously, although I repeatedly reported it to the authorities after the verbal and physical violence of one of my housemates. I felt unsafe, disappointed, ignored and worthless as a human. I have lost hope to start new life again. If I can not find safe here what else I can go in the world. I am thankful Welsh Refugee Council for giving us the chance to be heard by the MP”
Notes to editors:
- The session took take place online on Friday 6th November 2020 with six asylum seekers and refugees living in Cardiff.
- A recent report by the Lift the Ban Coalition found that allowing asylum seekers to work would have a net benefit to the treasury of £97.8 million. The full report can be seen here: https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/lift-the-ban/
- In an average quarter, Welsh Refugee Council support over 900 clients across all services.
- Refugees have just 28 days from the point at which they receive status before their financial and accommodation support from the Home Office ends.
- The asylum process is complex, it is not easy to get a positive decision, and about 60% of asylum cases are rejected.
- Asylum seekers receive £39.63 from the Home Office while their asylum claim is decided. During that time they live in Home Office contracted accommodation provided on a no-choice basis and can be moved to “dispersal areas” anywhere in the UK. These are local authority areas who have agreed to house asylum seekers.
- Wales has 4 dispersal areas for asylum seekers – Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham. The Welsh Refugee Council has bases in each of these locations. They also have the contract to deliver the Global Resettlement Scheme for vulnerable refugees in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
For more information contact Holly Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02920 489 800
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