shado and Counterpoints Arts have collaborated on a series of articles in celebration of Refugee Week 2022. They are written by artists, activists and journalists who are creating change in their communities and exposing first-hand the hostility of the UK’s asylum system. This piece is written by Loraine Mponela, a mother, writer, community organiser and migrants’ rights campaigner. She is originally from Malawi and moved to the UK in 2008 where she now lives in Coventry. Loraine is the ex-chair (2018-2022) for Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG) and is the co-chair for the Status Now 4 All Campaign which is calling for Indefinite Leave to Remain for all that need it in the UK and Ireland. Loraine also sits on the advisory group of Refugee Week UK.
This year’s Refugee Week theme of ‘Healing’ has brought up a lot of questions for me around the healing that needs to take place for refugees trying to settle here in the UK. The immigration system is constantly stabbing and prodding at us. How can a wound heal if it keeps on being opened?
As one parliamentary session comes to an end and another begins, Grace Da Costa reflects on what we’ve learned and what lies ahead.
The government crammed a huge amount of legislation into the last parliamentary session. Most of it passed through the two chambers without being changed very much in the process.
Civil society came together in an incredible way to campaign against some of the government’s worst proposals and promote an alternative vision. These alliances will continue into the next session, as we prepare to tackle the next large batch of bills coming our way.
[…] What’s coming up in 2022–2023?
The government announced its next swathe of legislation in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 10 May. The speech contained more plans to centralise power and make it harder for civil society to campaign for positive change.
The measures the Lords scrapped from the Policing Bill will return in a Public Order Bill designed to make protest even more risky.
MPs have written to the Government to raise concerns about the Homes for Ukraine scheme in light of reports of Ukrainian refugees being forced into temporary accommodation.
Clive Betts, chair of the ‘Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee’, has written to Lord Harrington, minister for refugees, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, concerning recent reports of problems with the operation of the scheme.
These problems include delays in criminal records checks for UK hosts and of accounts of Ukrainian refugees being forced into temporary accommodation such as B&Bs.
Mr Betts said: ‘There continue to be concerns about how the Homes for Ukraine scheme is operating, about the speed in helping refugees arrive, around delays in DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service criminal record] and accommodation checks, and concerns that Ukrainians who have arrived in the UK are finding themselves homeless after their initial place fell through or family members could not host them.’
Mr Betts’ latest letter follows an earlier missive, sent 4 May, which expressed ‘significant concerns’ about support for Ukrainian refugees and for local authorities.
‘There is a glaring disconnect in the current matching process which means the hospitality being offered by sponsors is not being taken up,’ Mr Betts said today.
‘The Government needs to up its game and speed up data sharing with local authorities so they can match refugees to suitable sponsors as quickly as possible and so councils can line up the resources and services to support those fleeing from Ukraine.’
When the will is there, it can be done – that is our point: there is hope yet … We will collate reports and legal challenges to the Nationality and Borders legislation here.
Updated 25 May 2022: Thank you Freemovement: When Does the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 Come Into Force?
The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 was signed into law on 28 April 2022. But there is a difference between a law being “on the statute books” after being passed by Parliament and it actually being “in force”. Most of the 2022 Act is not yet in force and will be phased in over time.
The commencement provisions are found in section 87 of the Act. Section 87 provides that a handful of provisions came into force straight away, on 28 April: Some other sections of the Act also came into force on the day it became law, insofar as they allow the Secretary of the State to make or consult on regulations: Then there are a bunch of provisions which, by virtue of section 87(5), come into force at a known date in the future. This is after “two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed” — so 28 June 2022. The rest of the Act will only come into force once a commencement order is made. In practice, there are likely to be multiple commencement orders bringing different sections into force at different times.
‘Over the centuries’, writes Michael Morpurgo, ‘we have been a safe haven to so many, and they have helped make us the people we are today – at our best, a deeply humanitarian people. I fear we are not at our best today’. Michael argues that, although we need to address the issue of people smuggling and deaths from dangerous Channel crossings, we must not lose our capacity for kindness and ‘generosity of spirit’ towards those who need our help.
Takesh has now launched a campaign shining a light on unaffordable visa fees and the long wait times for processing visa applications costing her years of her life.
A mother from Selly Oak has ended her 34 year long immigration battle as she is finally granted British citizenship. Although a happy time for the 40 year old, Takesh Hibbert said it’s a ‘bittersweet’ moment as she now begins her campaign to help other migrants fighting to stay in the UK.
From Barbara Forbes QARN-CRN representative: You might be interested in this latest bulletin from Churches Refugee Network. I represent QARN on CRN and am also on the advisory group. David and I both contributed items for this edition of the bulletin