#LiftTheBan: Why It's So Important
Campaigning isn’t something Upbeat Communities is known for. We are busy working away providing activities and events that promote integration and community. We usually leave the campaigning to others.
However, this is one particular campaign we want to highlight, and if it is successful, it will have a positive impact on thousands of people seeking sanctuary in the UK.
Since 2002, the Home Office decided that asylum seekers should not be allowed to work whilst their claims were being assessed. Their reasoning was that being allowed to work would be a reason individuals may choose to come to the UK (over other countries) and therefore they wanted to disincentivise claiming asylum in the UK.
Since then the government has changed it position slightly, allowing those individuals whose asylum claim has not been determined within twelve months to work, however they can only work in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List. This is a very limited list of jobs which includes ‘classical ballet dancer’, ‘nuclear medicine practitioner’ and ‘geo-environmental specialist’.
Even with this concession, no other European country has such a restrictive waiting period.
Things need to change. That’s why we are supporting the Lift The Ban campaign.
We want to the government to change their policy and allow asylum seekers the right to work (in any job) after they have waited for six months.
“We don’t come here to beg. We want to work. To be autonomous. To depend on ourselves” – Mary, asylum seeker
Why is this a good thing?
Being able to work strengthens people’s chances for integration in their new communities.
It gives people dignity in allowing them to support themselves rather than receiving benefits (currently £5.39 per day).
Permission to work provides opportunities for asylum seekers, many of whom are highly qualified, to use their skills and make the most of their potential.
There is improved mental health for those who are desperate to use their skills and abilities rather than just sit at home and wait for their asylum decision.
Allowing asylum seekers to work could also benefit the UK economy with net gains of £42.2 million.
What can we do?
We are supporting the Lift The Ban campaign, which is made up of a coalition of over eighty non-profit organisations who are calling on the government to give those seeking asylum and their dependents the right to work.
We want to help people like. Uthman, an asylum seeker from Sudan. Read his story here.
During Derby Refugee Week, we got members of the public to write postcards to the Home Secretary (now Priti Patel) explaining why they think the Lift the Ban campaign is important.
What can you do?
There are many ways you can join us in supporting the campaign.
You can sign the petition calling on the Home Secretary to Lift The Ban: click here.
You can campaign locally, from raising awareness to writing to your local MP. Download the Lift The Ban Activism Pack for all the relevant resources.
Visit www.lifttheban.co.uk for more information.
Andrew Jackson – Chief Executive