People seeking asylum have fled their homeland and arrived in another country. They have made themselves known to the authorities and submit an asylum application. While this process is being decided they have a legal right to stay in the country.
In the UK people seeking asylum are usually sent to live in different towns and cities while this process takes place – which can take several months or sometimes years.
In Scotland, Glasgow is home to a sizeable population of people seeking asylum – in fact it is the largest number of any local authority area in the UK. This makes Glasgow, and community and faith groups in the city, very well aware of issues and concerns of people seeking asylum. It has also meant that many Glasgow faith groups now include people seeking asylum and refugees among their membership. Since 2021 asylum dispersal has been widened to other local authorities in Scotland, first informally through the procurement of temporary hotel accommodation for asylum seekers, and since May 2022 asylum dispersal across Scotland has been mandated by the Home Office.
Some of the member organisations of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees have highlighted some of the difficulties and challenges that people seeking asylum face and have called for the Government to change policy that would help improve the lives and integration prospects for people seeking asylum and those granted refugee status:
- The new Nationality and Borders Act 2022 was passed into law in April 2022 and creates an even more hostile environment for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and it’s members campaigned against this bill during its time in parliament, and together we have signed the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge. The Together With Refugees Coalition calls for a kinder, more compassionate approach to refugees – so they can seek safety in the UK, rebuild their lives and make a valuable contribution to our society. Faith communities in Scotland have joined this coalition and it’s campaigns. Find out more and how you can get involved.
- The Right to Work: during the period of their asylum claim, people are not allowed to work. This means they are often left reliant on a small weekly state handout (between £9 and £45 a week subject to their accommodation) and are banned from contributing to the economy, including sharing their skills and contributing tax. A large coalition of organisations, joined by many faith groups, is calling for this ban on working to be lifted through the Lift the Ban Campaign.
- Challenging the ‘hostile environment’: over many years the Government has taken an increasingly hostile line with regard to asylum and immigration. We would like to see a process which is fair and which promotes human rights and human dignity throughout. Some of Scotland’s faith groups have made proposals for reform. Find out what you can do to support the No Evictions Campaign to help people at risk of homelessness in Glasgow.
- Ending Indefinite Detention: the use of Immigration Removal Centres for administrative detention is deeply controversial and recently a number of stories of abuse have been reported. In Scotland there is one detention centre at Dungavel. People caught up in the immigration system can be locked up without time limit. The UK is the only country in Europe to allow indefinite detention. Some of our members have called for a time like and proposed community-based alternatives.