By Jonathan, Advocacy team
At the Refugee Council we know that working with our partners especially refugee community organisations (RCOs) we face big campaigning challenges in the years ahead in defence of asylum seekers and refugees.
To help meet that challenge we have made some major changes to how we approach campaigning. We now have a new advocacy and influencing team at the Refugee Council and each of us in the team now work on all of the key advocacy functions: research, policy, campaigning and media. The idea is that we each take an issue and then generate momentum on that issue using which ever advocacy function we need to push our campaign forward. So we are going to be working more flexibly and we are also focussing on four key advocacy issues that we know are of huge concern to our clients and to RCOs.
Firstly we want to be much louder about the need for decent legal advice and representation for those seeking safety in the UK. We know how important this is for our clients and we will be working with our sector partners and wider coalitions such as Justice for All and Sound off for Justice.
We remain very agitated about the high levels of destitution amongst our clients. In particular we want to expose the fact that people can be refused status but then cannot be returned home so find themselves trapped with no income or home. We will be continuing our commitment to the impressive Still Human Still Here campaign coalition and we will be continuing to make the case to allow asylum seekers to work but will seek wider alliances to build support.
We are also very concerned at the state of accommodation provided to asylum seekers. We are going to be doing some quick but ongoing research to encourage asylum seekers to tell us about the realities of their accommodation and robustly challenge some of the media myths about asylum seekers’ accommodation. This is a story which we just have to tell.
And last but no means least we want to link up the detention visitor groups who do such superb work across the country to challenge the outrageous practice in this country of indefinitely detaining asylum seekers with no charge. We know from Detention Action that last year 230 people were detained more than 12 months and 70 for more than 2 years. This is being done in our name and has to be challenged and stopped.
But what do you think? Are you interested in getting involved in our re-energised campaigning? Do you have information that you would like to share? Let us know—we would love to hear from you.