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Asylum Matters: Yorkshire and Humber Briefing 19th March 2020

via Mary at Asylum Matters

Some of this content has already been covered on the blog already, but it’s published as is, with huge thanks to the Asylum Matters crew. in fact, for once we might even claim they’re ripping off our content  *narrows eyes*

  1.  Doctors of the World guidance

Doctors of the World have published guidance in over 20 languages on the coronavirus and how people can protect themselves and each other

  1.     Joint letter on protecting migrants from COVID-19

Asylum Matters joined together with other organisations to sign a joint letter to the Home Secretary calling for specific measures to protect migrants and the general population from COVID-19. This included calls for the suspension of all NHS charging and data-sharing for the purposes of immigration enforcement and the suspension of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions to ensure everyone can access support. You can read the letter and add your name here, and read coverage in the Independent here

  1.   Sector Coordination on COVID-19

UKLGIG and the Red Cross have set up two Google groups to facilitate communications in the refugee and migration sector on coronavirus. The COVID-19 operations group will focus on service delivery, support and sustaining organisations. The COVID-19 policy group will discuss policy and advocacy efforts around migrants and refugees and COVID-19

If you would like to join either or both groups, please email Catherine at UKLGIG ([email protected]) or Leila ([email protected])

  1. Pause in face to face substantive asylum interviews

In an update circulated on 18 March 2020, the Home Office have confirmed that they are temporarily suspending face to face substantive asylum interviews, saying: 

Many of our applicants travel a long way to have a substantive asylum interview, which can be a lengthy interaction taking several hours. On that basis, we have decided to pause face to face substantive asylum interviews for now.  That means we will be cancelling any that are scheduled from tomorrow 19th March and will not be scheduling any new face to face interviews for now. 

In the meantime, we are exploring other ways to find the information we need to make our decisions; digitally, by telephone and by post/ email, for example.  We can already interview people digitally from our offices or onsite in other location in some circumstances and are looking for support from digital colleagues to do that in a different way that doesn’t involve us being in one of our offices.  On that basis, we hope – availability of staff and applicants allowing – to be conducting those substantive asylum interviews again soon. I will keep you updated on any progress we make on that.”  

  1. Further Submissions to Liverpool Temporarily Suspended

It has now been confirmed that applicants wanting to make further submissions in support of a fresh claim for asylum no longer have to travel to Liverpool to hand them in. Instead, application can be sent in via post, or via e-mail (details below). This new process will be a temporary measure due to the Coronavirus. A message will be sent to all applicants who have already booked an appointment.

Postal address: FSU, The Capital Building, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9PP

E-mail address: [email protected]

  1. NACCOM guidance for hosting projects

NACCOM have published guidance for hosting projects on how to best protect residents from the coronavirus. This includes guidance for shared house projects, housing projects (including guidance from Refugees at Home), night shelters (including guidance by Housing Justice).

 MHCLG and Public Health England have also produced guidance for Covid-19 and hostel or day centre providers of services for people experiencing rough sleeping, which is available here.

  1.     Letter to Home Secretary on immigration detention 

A group of 10 organisations have written to the Home Secretary raising concerns about the risk of an outbreak in an immigration detention and calls for the release of all immigration detainees. The letter notes that,

“Detention can only be justified where there is a prospect of imminent removal and as borders close around the globe and strict travel restrictions are implemented, the removal system is going to become much harder to operate, making increased numbers of removals and detentions unlawful.” You can read the full letter here and coverage in the Guardian here

Detention Action also coordinated a pre-action protocol (PAP) challenging the use of detention during the COVID-19 pandemic, which you can read about here

The Ministry of Justice and Public Health England have issued guidance on Covid-19: prisons and other places of detention, which is available here 

  1. NACCOM letter to the Prime Minister with policy recommendations + work on Local Authority asks

NACCOM have produced a letter including a series of policy recommendations which will be sent directly to the PM, cc’ing relevant Secretaries of State and sharing with the media. A copy of the letter is attached below.

Please could you let Jessie know if your organisation would like to sign by emailing [email protected] with the name and position of the relevant person. They are hoping to send the letter by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday 20th).

NACCOM have asked that we hold off on sharing the letter on social media until it’s published online, but please do share widely with organisations who might want to become signatories.

Also, a small group of organisations are working on recommendations templates for local authorities that can be widely shared and NACCOM have asked that if anyone locally has been working on anything similar, to please share this with Jessie.

  1. Reporting suspended in Yorkshire & Humberside

The Home Office have confirmed that

“with immediate effect reporting restrictions for those required to sign at our Reporting Centres in Yorkshire & Humber have been suspended in light of the current guidance around COVID-19.” 

This suspension has not been confirmed nationally yet.

  1. Sheffield local initiative to contact MPs

Sheffield City of Sanctuary on behalf of organisations in Sheffield have written to their local MPs with a series of policy asks mirroring those in the NACCOM letter. I’ve attached a copy of this letter below.

  1. Racial Justice Network statement with key concerns

The Racial Justice Network have published a statement including three concerns about the UK government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic:

It’s being published with support from Yorkshire Resists and the Stop The Scan campaign. If your organisation would like to add their name, please let Yorkshire Resists know by emailing [email protected] (along with any URL link you’d like to include) and they will add you to the signatories.

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