After our protest on 29th June 2013, we handed in a motion to be included as part of the ‘Asylum Support and the Destitution of Asylum Seekers’ deputation written by a number of asylum/refugee support organisations from Leeds.
This is what Leeds Council has agreed to do:
In writing to the Home Secretary, particular reference should be made to the concerns outlined in Section 4 of the report.
(a) That the Chief Executive write to the Home Secretary voicing concerns that the current application of the asylum process is allowing too many people to fall destitute, and that the burden of responsibility needs to be more equally shared between local and national government.
(b) That the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry be endorsed, and that approval be given to act on the findings that can be achieved by local government.
(c) That relevant policies of the ‘Still Human, Still Here’ campaign to end institutional destitution for asylum seekers, be supported.
Dignity not Destitution
Leeds: A City Of Sanctuary
Leeds formally declared itself a City Of Sanctuary in November 2010.
By doing so , the city council committed itself to recognise the plight of asylum seekers forced to flee their home countries for expressing views or holding opinions that ruling regimes disagreed with or found to be confrontational.
In exercising their human right of free speech in their own countries, many have received death threats, suffered beatings and threats to their family members, forcing them to abandon their homes, their country and all their possessions. Here in Britain, if their asylum cases are refused by the Home Office, they lose all financial support and accommodation. Current laws also prevent them from working. This leaves them in a cycle of deprivation and poverty that is currently impossible to break. Many are forced into homelessness on the street. Council welcomes Bristol, Glasgow, Sheffield and Oxford City Council’s initiatives in passing a motion, highlighting the concerns for refused asylum seekers and the lack of support and facilities UK wide.
Council asserts that if our proud declaration stating that Leeds is a City of Sanctuary is to be meaningful and worthy of its fine words, we must act to improve this situation with the following actions:
1. The Mayor writes on behalf of the city council to the Minister of State
deploring the government policy that forces refused asylum seekers
into destitution while they continue to fight for a safe haven from
2. The Mayor writes to the UK government to allow asylum seekers the right to work
and to contribute to society. This would be the single most positive change in terms of decreasing destitution and mental health problems and also creating much better opportunities for integration.
3 The Mayor writes to the UK government seeking a change of policy to
allow local authorities to assist refused asylum seekers in danger of
destitution and provide equal emergency provision to refused asylum
seekers as they would to any other homeless person.
4. The Mayor calls on all Leeds MPs to support the content of this
motion and to raise the matter in the House of Commons, and
support a change in current laws regarding asylum applications by
removing restrictions on local authorities in the support they can
provide to destitute asylum seekers.
5 The council agrees to produce a report highlighting all existing
support available in Leeds including housing, training, education,
and legal advice open to vulnerable asylum applicants.
6. The city council should work closely with the voluntary sector through
a designated officer to provide help, support and advice to applicants
and enable a coordinated response to be easily available to those in
need at this vulnerable time of their lives.
7. The council agrees to seek further support for this motion and actions
via the Local Government Association and encouraging other councils
in the UK to follow Leeds’ lead.