By Marilyn, Campaigns team
Lord Morris (or plain Bill Morris as he was then) was never off the television in my childhood. Back then, I didn’t really know who he was but now of course I realise what a pioneer he was and what a great campaigner. Lord Morris is now one of the Refugee Council’s patrons and on Monday, he chaired a reception we held in the House of Lords to highlight our Work campaign.
The event which was attended by peers, MPs, and people from refugee organisations, all of whom had come together to learn more about the issue and to share their own experiences.
Our Chief Executive Donna Covey spoke about why this is such an important issue for the people we work with, describing how skilled people are forced to rely on benefits because the government will not allow asylum seekers to work.
From the TUC, Gloria Mills reiterated the trade union movement’s support for the campaign. Gloria emphasised how in times of economic difficulty, we must allow everyone in society to work and contribute to the economy.
The TUC and the Confederation of British Industry don’t often appear on the same platform, so we were delighted that on this issue they share common ground. Guy Bailey, Senior Policy Advisor at the CBI outlined their support for asylum seekers to be allowed to work.
Finally, Sam Dore from the Regional Refugee Forum North East spoke about his work on the campaign and how he has been heartened by people’s support. I met Sam earlier this year at the TUC Congress when he talked about all the impressive campaigning that has gone on in his region, much of it down to his hard work and dedication.
It was great that several people from our Refugee Empowerment Project came along and spoke of their own experiences in the Q&A that followed the speeches.
The event successfully brought together different people who are involved in the campaign. Everyone acknowledges that this is a difficult issue to be working on but one we’re all committed to. We’ll be continuing to put pressure on the government to change the rules and give all asylum seekers of working age permission to work.