Sign HERE to show your support for Bristol City of Sanctuary’s Dignity not Destitution statement.
“Everyone has the right to a standard
of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their
families, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”
(Article 25 Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
How does the asylum system work in the UK?
Imagine having to run from your home, or find a way out of your country, without knowing
where you are going. People claiming asylum often escape war zones and extreme poverty. Or
they fear for their lives because of their religious or political beliefs. Or they need to escape
persecution and violence for reasons of gender, sexuality, disability, language or ethnicity.
Once here, UK law puts the whole burden of proof on the applicant. But people are rarely able
to bring evidence with them. As a result, over half asylum claims are refused. People describe
the experience of not being believed as ‘mental torture’.
Government policy of asylum destitution
At first, the Home Office provides temporary accommodation and £5.30/day to live on. But
when a claim is refused, immigration authorities evict the claimant and stop all support. The
person is now unsafe and destitute, not allowed to work, to claim any benefits, to rent a room,
or access secondary healthcare. Every legitimate means of survival has been denied. Many live
in fear of being detained and forcibly returned by the Home Office to the country they fled
from. During the following prolonged period of destitution, they lose skills they brought in to
this country. Mental and physical health declines disastrously, sometimes to the point of deep
depression and thoughts of suicide.
At this point, the Government expects the person to leave the UK of their own accord, but
many cannot. Countries will often not accept people back, not recognise them as citizens, or
will persecute them further for having left and claimed asylum. Most asylum seekers
desperately fear return. In this vulnerable situation, people spend years still trying to get their
need for sanctuary recognised.
The person whose asylum claim has been refused survives in a living limbo in the UK – in a country with a two-tier
system of human rights.
Everyone in Bristol, including people who are seeking sanctuary,
1. Appropriate shelter;
2. Access to education and skills training;
3. The right to earn a living through their own labour.
You can show your support for this statement by clicking HERE and adding your name to the form.