4 March 2020

This Action Week, STAR, as part of the Lift the Ban coalition, will campaign for the right to work for people seeking asylum in the UK. You can take action right now by signing the petition to lift the ban!

What is the Lift the Ban campaign about?

People seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working, forcing them onto asylum support (only £5.39 per day) whilst they wait for a decision on their claim. They can only apply to the Home Office for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over 12 months, and can only apply for jobs that are on the Governments incredibly restrictive Shortage Occupation List – like classical ballet dancer.

Forcing people to live in poverty for months, or even years at a time, while they seek safety from persecution is inhumane. The ban wastes the talents of those thousands who are not allowed to work, prevents them from living in dignity, denies them the chance to support themselves and their families, and doubles the risk of them experiencing a major mental health problem. These restrictions affect real people, people whose lives are put on hold sometimes for years.

Read Anna’s story, A Life in Limbo: Banned from working

What are we asking for?

We want people who have risked everything to find safety to have the best chance of building a new life in the UK by giving asylum seekers the right to work. We are calling for the right to work for people seeking asylum, and their adult dependents, unconstrained by the Shortage Occupation List, after six months of having lodged an asylum claim or further submission.

This change would benefit around 22,000 people and would offer them the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. With the right to work, people seeking asylum will be able to live in dignity and provide for themselves and their families and will have better chances of being able to integrate into their new communities.

“If you are able to work, you would contribute to the country, you would pay taxes. Helping the community. You would be independent as well. Let’s assume everyone here [was] working. We would be contributing to the country and paying our tax.” Esther

What are STAR groups doing to Lift the Ban?

Over the next two weeks, STAR groups will be taking action to Lift the Ban by engaging with their MPs via letters, meetings, and on social media to demonstrate to them the existing local support for allow people asylum seekers to be given the right to work. They will also be asking MPs to support the Lift the Ban campaign.

Students will also be raising awareness on campus through various creative campaign actions, such as displaying a dream board of students’ dream or current jobs to show the connections between professions and identity, flash mobs of people dressed as different professions, and displaying posters of quotes from people affected by the ban.

Bristol STAR is undertaking a month of action to raise awareness for the campaign and get 3500 signatures so that a motion to lift the ban could be debated at the Bristol City Council. They have collected over 1000 signatures and will be continuing to collect signatures from Bristol residents. If you live in Bristol then please sign Bristol STAR’s petition.

Which groups are taking action?

Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, City, Essex, Lincoln, London School of Economics, Manchester, Northampton, Sussex, University of East Anglia, Warwick.

Watch this space for more.

You can take action right now by signing the petition to lift the ban!

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