People seeking safety in our country are banned from working. They are unable to provide for themselves and their families and often left to live in poverty.
Right now, right here in the UK, people seeking refugee status are banned from working while they wait months, and often years, for a decision on their asylum claim.
Instead, they are left to live on just £5.39 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families, while the Government wastes the talents of thousands of people.
We think that’s wrong. We believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance of contributing to society and integrating into communities. This means giving people seeking asylum the right to work so that they can use their skills and live in dignity.
Peter arrived in the UK from the Middle East four years ago and claimed asylum. During the two years he waited for a decision on his claim, he felt isolated and lonely, rejected by others because of the fact that he was claiming asylum and wasn’t working or studying:
“I was completely on my own. I [wanted] to build connections with people but it isn’t that easy.. Because the first question people ask is ‘what are you studying or where do you work?’ and I was doing neither. I couldn’t lie- so I would say neither. And that would be the end of the conversation.”
Peter told us that while he was waiting for his decision, having too much time on his hands meant that he had little to do but think of the past and re-live his traumas:
“It becomes a vicious circle. It just carries on and on – you become depressed and you re-live your experience and because you re-live your experience, you are depressed.”
Peter is a qualified teacher and hoped to be able to find work quickly once he secured refugee status. But he struggled to find a job and instead spent his time volunteering, while applying everywhere he could.
One year on he finally found a job, but even now he worries that the gap in his CV may have a negative impact on his future employment prospects. He can’t see the logic in the Government’s decision not to allow people to work while they wait for a decision on their asylum claim.
68% of the public agree that people seeking asylum should be able to work.
There are lots of ways to campaign on this issue. For more information on how you can get involved download the activism pack below. It’s full of tips and information on how to campaign in your local area.