Churches Refugee Network Advisory Group Bulletin

24 January 2022: Keep informed about developments and activities linked to immigration, asylum and refugee issues, in a British and Irish context, with this new bulletin from the Churches’ Refugee Network’s (CRN) Advisory Group.

This first edition looks at issues around asylum claims and Christian conversion; explores the lived experience of refugees seeking a better life in Refugee Stories; features the website of the other side of hope , a website for groups who support those seeking asylum; outlines how Catholic primary schools in Birmingham show their solidarity with refugees as Schools of Sanctuary; and details new guidance on language support for those seeking to settle in London and surrounding areas.

Extract – from Barbara Forbes, who is also the QARN representative at CRN:

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Impact of Covid-19 on migrants

Updated 19 January 2021: JCWI: “We also want to be safe” – undocumented migrants facing COVID in a Hostile Environment

Executive Summary

This report explores undocumented migrants’ experiences of the COVID pandemic. It focuses on financial security, work, housing and access to healthcare, and highlights how in all these areas, the Government’s Hostile Environment policies have exacerbated the effects of the COVID crisis for undocumented people.

Download the report

Take action to make sure the COVID inquiry includes migrants

Read more here:

You can sign the JCWI letter: ‘We also want to be safe’ – Sign our open letter

Faced with COVID, the Government should have done everything in its power to ensure everyone had support. Everyone needs a way to earn a living, access to the public safety net if they need it, safe accommodation, and access to vaccines and the NHS.

But Hostile Environment policies cut undocumented migrants off from these basic rights. Because they don’t have the right piece of paper in their passport, people without status have been left destitute, homeless, and afraid or unable to get help during the pandemic.

We need accountability, and change. The public inquiry into the Government handling of COVID is getting underway now. We are calling on the Chair to make sure the experiences of all migrants, including those without status, are part of her investigation.

Scroll down to add your name to our open letter today, to be part of the movement calling for change. 

Read more and sign here:

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Changing the Conversation on Asylum

Freedom From Torture: Changing the Conversation on Asylum: A Messaging Guide

Freedom from Torture is proud to launch ‘Changing the Conversation on Asylum: A Messaging Guide’, a new report based on research into the most persuasive narratives around refugee rights in the UK.

This messaging guide is a tool to help the refugee and migrant advocacy sector to think tactically, play to our strengths and win.

In this new guide, we take a look at the methodology and messages that can help us carve out a new approach that will be successful in persuading the public that seeking safety is a fundamental human right.

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Opening Hearts through Arts

Updated 21 January 2022: ‘Hostile’ documentary film:

and Sonita Gale is an independent producer and director. Sonita’s heritage is central to her storytelling. As a daughter of migrant parents, elevating the stories of migrants and marginalised communities has been at the forefront of her work.
Sonita has recently completed her directorial debut, Hostile, a feature length documentary exposing the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants living in the UK. Through the impact campaign for the film, Sonita hopes to influence change in immigration policies.

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New Plan for Immigration

We will collate reports of the Nationality & Borders Bill which has come out of the recent ‘New Plan for Immigration’; and reports related to Home Office practice.

When the will is there, it can be done – that is our point:

18 January 2022: Good Law Project: Nationality & Borders Bill: we asked the experts:

Today, we are publishing advice about the extension to the powers to strip Britons of their citizenship in the Nationality and Borders Bill. The advice was commissioned from some of the country’s leading immigration barristers, Raza Husain QC, Jason Pobjoy and Eleanor Mitchell, instructed by Leigh Day solicitors. We worked with Media Diversified and CAGE to commission it. 

The advice is conclusive, and alarming: 

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Channel Crossings

That which is morally wrong cannot be politically right

Updated 19 January 2022: Hansard: Migrant Crossings: Role of the Military : debated on Tuesday 18 January 2022

Here are just a couple of extracts:

“Q: Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): I welcome what the Minister says about not using sonic weapons—an idea that was described by a Home Office source in the press today as “f***ng bonkers”. When the Home Office is saying that your idea can be classified as that, you have to think you have taken a wrong turn in your planning somewhere. May I press the Minister on the relationship between the Royal Navy and the Marines, on the one hand, and UK Border Force? He tells the House—I welcome the assurance—that the Royal Navy will not be engaged in pushing back boats with refugees in them, but that leaves open the door that the UK Border Force might still do that. In that case, how can he possibly say that operational primacy sits with the Royal Navy?

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Concerns about the use of army barracks etc.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

You can write to your MP in support of the #CloseTheBarracks campaign.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

Updated 18 January 2022:

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Intervention by the Courts

Updated 17 January 2022Independent: Home Office threatened to deport asylum seekers for crimes they did not commit

The Home Office has been threatening asylum seekers with deportation for alleged crimes they did not commit, it has emerged.

Court of Appeal judgment revealed the existence of “notices of liability to detention”, which were handed to migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats.

The documents claimed they were “illegal entrants” and “may be liable to removal or deportation from the United Kingdom”.

[…] But judges said the Home Office had misinterpreted the law and that crossing the Channel by dinghy to seek asylum did not amount to illegal entry.

Evidence revealed during a successful appeal by asylum seekers who were wrongly jailed for steering small boats said “a number of the official documents” had been issued, and caused immigration interviews to “proceed on an erroneous basis”.

Judges found that a “heresy about the law” had originated among Home Office officials and been passed on to prosecutors, defence lawyers and the courts – sparking several unlawful prosecutions.

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‘Off-shoring’ people seeking asylum is not a new idea

Floating barriers, wave machines, old ferries, shipping people to far away places … Out of sight, out of mind!

The ‘backlog’ can be dealt with by giving people Leave to Remain now. This post is also uploaded to the website.

Updated 17 January 2022: City AM: Army to take control as govt plans to order Royal Navy to stop Channel migrants and fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and Ghana

The Prime Minister is planning to slow the flow of migrants into the UK by calling in the army and fly asylum seekers to a number of African countries, including Ghana and Rwanda, to process their applications there.

According to a report in The Times this morning, Boris Johnson plans to give the Royal Navy ‘primacy’ over all government-run and owned vessels in the Channel later this month.

A rear admiral will reportedly be given the powers to oversee the Border Force, coastguard, fisheries protection and customs and excise to carry out surveillance or intercept migrants that attempt to cross the Channel.

Read more:

See how Governments think it will work! …

Allan Olingo@allanolingo: RWANDA rejects 250,000 Covid-19 vaccines from Denmark over claims the donation was attached to Kigali accepting to host asylum centres for Denmark. The two countries’ officials met in September 2021 but Kigali has since rejected the vaccines and proposal-Danish media reports.”

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Together with Refugees – show your support


QARN is a signatory to Together With Refugees: please get involved in the Orange Hearts campaign at their your local level.

We would be very happy to display your Quaker hearts on our website – please send them by email to and include a line which could be included, about which Quaker Meeting they are from.

Updated 16 January 2022: City of Sanctuary: Make this Valentine’s Day count

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