Standing in solidarity for a fair and dignified asylum support system
One of the outstanding themes of the community-evidence sessions we helped run over the last few months for the Parliamentary Inquiry on Detention was the realisation that when you leave detention, detention doesn’t necessarily leave you.
Almost everybody we took testimony from said that the impact of being detained without a time limit had left them, and their families and communities, with deep emotional and psychological wounds. Many spoke to us about how they had only become fully aware of the extent to which their experiences of detention had affected them upon release: “To survive in detention you have to keep your head down and repress your feelings. This means that when you come out, they explode.”
“Before detention, I was not on any medication. During my time in detention, I needed three different types of medication for depression. When I got out, I had to pay for everything, including my medication. The Home Office detained me for no reason, gave me mental health issues, released me and then made me pay for my own treatment…”
Others reported problems with memory recall, mental disorientation and flashbacks when they re-entered society: “It was only when I got outside that I really realised what impact detention had had on me. Detention ruined me. Now, I cannot recollect things. I forget everything. I get confused.”
Equally apparent was that the current levels of support for those individuals who had experienced detention and were now living in the community, was devastatingly low. This applied to accommodation and psychological aid but primarily, the people we spoke to focused on the inadequate financial assistance they were receiving, whether it be on Section 4 or Section 95 support. Forced to survive on a measly £35-40 a week, many didn’t have the emotional and physical stability to work through the traumas of detention – it was as if they were still trapped in Harmondsworth or still locked down in Colnbrook.
With this in mind, Detention Action is proud to support Refugee Action’s campaign for an asylum support rate that’s both dignified and fair.
Earlier this year, Refugee Action took the Home Office to court over their decision to freeze the rate of financial support given to asylum seekers while they wait for a decision on their claim (Section 95 support). After the High Court ruled in our favour, the Home Office reviewed its decision-making process on this issue. Shockingly, the Home Office decided to keep Section 95 support at its current level – which can be as little as £5.23 a day.
We are joining Refugee Action in asking our supporters to call for a fairer level of asylum support (70% of income support) by asking their MP to sign EDM 99.
So far, 80 MPs have signed EDM 99. Refugee Action aim to reach 100 before the November recess (starts November 11th) – getting this issue onto the agenda before the General Election in 2015.
From 10am on November 3rd until 5pm on November 7th, we’ll be asking you, our supporters, to tweet the following message to your MP:
As your constituent, I don’t think asylum seekers should have to live on £5.23 a day. Please sign EDM 99:http://bit.ly/1vcD3Kf
Supporters can find their MP on Twitter using www.tweetyourmp.com.
There’s also more information about how you can get involved on Refugee Action’s website: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/support_us/campaign/join_a_campaign/1152_bring_back_dignity_to_our_asylum_support_system.