Working Together to Change the Asylum System
We have seen, in the response to this pandemic, that certain changes are possible, and want to seize on this momentum to effect permanent change. For too long, people seeking sanctuary in our city have been subjected to harsh and unfair conditions, conditions that we have seen lifted to accommodate necessary changes with Covid-19. A local and tangible example of this is that the requirement on those with insecure immigration status to sign in at Patchway Police Station has been suspended; we are calling for, in this digital age, the need for physical signing in to be abolished and replaced with reporting via telephone/other digital methods.
Provisions have also been made to ensure that no person find themselves living on the street during the pandemic, regardless of their immigration status; an incredible achievement and one that we want to see continue. One thing that is certain is that the society we emerge into after lockdown will be a very different one from the start of the year. We believe that this is a time for change, a time to show that by working together we can make our city safe for all, including people seeking sanctuary.
We have written to our Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, asking him to both call for national policy change and to make a commitment, in principle, to local actions. You can view our asks below, along with the full letter here
. The Mayor has already written to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary asking for a policy change on NRPF. He also expressed his continued commitment to support local actions which help us to achieve our shared vision of making Bristol a City of Sanctuary for all.
A similar letter has also been sent to the four Bristol MPs, calling on them to support these asks. In response to our letter, Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire requested a meeting with the representatives from across the sector. She wanted to hear first hand how people have been affected by Covid-19 and the lockdown; afterwards she said of the meeting that "it was a hugely inspiring, moving and sometimes upsetting discussion - life for people fleeing conflict and persecution is tough enough and many have had really difficult additional problems in lockdown." Read more here.
Mayors Migration Council Calls for Inclusive Covid Response and Recovery
The Mayors Migration Council Leadership Board, which includes Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, have published a joint statement calling for the inclusion of refugees and migrants in the response and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement recognises the immense contribution that refugees and migrants have been making to the Covid-19 response, whilst also calling out the exclusion from vital support and services that many have experienced. It calls for a fairer future, "championing policies to make sure that language barriers, migration status, or where someone lives does not prevent their ability to access key services and get the support they need during recovery."
Read the full statement here.