Brighton and Hove: Sanctury by the Sea

city-of-sanctuaryWith this newsletter we hope to provide you with up to date information on the activities of  Sanctuary on Sea and other City of Sanctuary Groups, sharing exciting events and activities in your community through which you can show your solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers at the regional and national level.
 
For more up to date information follow us on  Facebook and Twitter. https://brighton-and-hove.cityofsanctuary.org
 
We would also like to invite all Brighton and Hove based groups to forward us events that you would like us to share in the next newsletter.
 
We are looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming events.
 
// INTERNATIONAL NEWS
 
European Commission 2016 Action Priorities
The European Commission released a review of its actions in 2015 and its 2016 priorities.
The main priority is to regain control of migration flows and border control. To achieve that, hotspots shall be fully operational and all refugees registered and fingerprinted on arrival.

Europe’s race to the bottom: Denmark and Norway
This week the Danish parliament’s vote on its controversial immigration bill has made headlines around Europe. Part of the legislative changes has not only been the seizure of refugees’ valuables over a certain amount, but also the delay in family reunification procedures to three years, meaning they have to wait for three years until they eligible for family reunion. This means that vulnerable people will face greater hardship to escape life threatening situations. Further restrictions on migrants to be introduced in the bill include tighter eligibility requirements for permanent residence, the introduction of a fee of about €900 for the family reunification procedure and shorter temporary residence. The changes were criticized by Amnesty International and others.  Norway has made this weeks’ headlines by deporting 13 Syrian asylum seekers to Russia. During the last months of 2015 around 5,500 asylum seekers have entered Norway through the new arctic migration route to Europe. In response the Norwegian government amended the asylum law introducing a fast track procedure for asylum seekers deemed to have arrived in the country through a „safe“ third country, including Russia. The inclusion of Russia as a safe third country has been widely criticised.

MSF to open camp in Dunkirk
At Grande-Synthe, a suburb of Dunkirk, just 35 kilometres away from Calais, an informal makeshift camp has seen a huge increase in residents to an estimated 3,000 people in January 2016 living in unsanitary, freezing, and inhumane conditions. Up until a few days ago, local police were blocking the delivery of aid to the camp, with volunteers having to smuggle in tents, sheets, and any building material needed – often without success. However, on January 12 Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was granted permission for the construction of a camp which could accommodate around 2,500 people. The new camp will be in a location 10 minutes away from the current one, and will have around 500 heated and winterised tents which can accommodate five people per tent. It will have toilets, along with water and electricity points and all necessary basic equipment to ensure better living conditions.

// NATIONAL NEWS
 
Brighton & Hove Council to protest to Home Secretary about Immigration Bill
On January 29 the Council backed Cllr Leo Littman’s motion on the Immigration Bill. As a result, the City’s Chief Executive will be writing to the Home Secretary urging a deferral or a redrafting of the Bill in order to ensure that the costs to Local Authorities are fully covered and the legal risks to Local Authorities are entirely removed, to remove the provisions in the Bill that prevent local authorities providing support to specific groups of young people, to ensure that those whose leave is curtailed or revoked will have an effective right of appeal or administrative review, to remove the provisions that prevent destitute refused asylum seeking families from accessing support, to remove the right to rent policy, to allow asylum seekers to work if an initial decision has not been taken on their application within six months and to end the policy of indefinite detention for immigrants and asylum seekers.
 
More than 9,000 asylum seekers in the UK destitute
A report issued by the British Red Cross has found that more than 9,000 asylum seekers in the UK are destitute, lacking adequate access to food, accommodation and healthcare. Those who have been granted protection are also often destitute, due to a short time span or 28 days to move from asylum support to mainstream benefits. Policy proposals include policy makers to consider and address destitutions impacts on health and wellbeing in the context of the right to health.
 
UK Judges order government to allow four Syrian asylum seekers to join their families
In a ground-breaking decision last week, UK judges ordered the government to immediately allow four Syrian asylum seekers residing in Calais to enter the UK to join their families. Under the usual procedure the four Syrians would have to ask for asylum in France and then wait for family reunification. However, in this case, the tribunal accepted the argument that this system was not working, due to bureaucratic failings and lengthy delays. Tragically, Masud, an Afghan asylum seeker who was part of the challenge and also gained the right to claim asylum by the British authorities, had been unable to wait and suffocated in a lorry after attempting to join his sister in the UK. The Home Secretary has been given leave to appeal.


Landlord checks: “looking for footprints in the dirt”
From February 1, 2016 all private landlords in England will be legally required to carry out immigration checks on their tenants. Under the ‘right to rent scheme’ introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, private landlords will face financial penalties of up to £3,000 if their tenant does not have the right to immigration status. Additionally, if the Immigration Bill 2015-2016 passes, the penalty will be increased to a prison sentence. So, is this the start of a system where we all become unpaid border guards in the government’s pursuit of tougher immigration controls?
 
// NEWS FROM THE NETWORK 

Consultation on extension of charges for health services
The Department of Health has issued another consultation on the extension of charges for overseas visitors and migrants using the NHS in England. This consultation seeks views on proposals to extend charges, including exploring changes in primary care, secondary care, community healthcare and current residency requirements. The consultation will run until Sunday 6 March.  Please email mike.kaye@amnesty.org.uk at Still Human Still Here if you have had:
 
(a)  Any experience during 2015 of asylum seekers/refugees or other migrants being refused access to NHS services (either primary or secondary) that they are entitled to access for free; or
(b)  Any experience during 2015 of asylum seekers/refugees or other migrants not accessing health services because they are concerned about being charged (rightly or wrongly).
 
Scrutiny of Compas
The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) and other organisations are aiming to persuade the Home Affairs Committee to initiate an Inquiry into Compass and the future of asylum accommodation. With this, they are hoping to independently scrutinize the existing approach and performance prior to the Home Office decision on whether to extend the contract for a further 2 years (from June 2017 – June 2019). SRC are thus encouraging organisations to submit evidence they have of any poor quality housing and/or services to MP Keith Vaz as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, with the aim of showing a pattern of persistent problems across the UK. With this in mind, organisations should submit evidence by mid-February to Graham O’Neill at SRC: call 07799600545 or email  graham.o’neill@scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk
 
City of Sanctuary and other groups write to David Cameron calling for safe and legal routes
City of Sanctuary was one of 27 charities to sign a letter addressed to David Cameron on January 3 2016. Calling for the Government to do more to establish safe and legal routes in Europe and the UK for those fleeing war and persecution, the letter calls on the Prime Minister to more do than take people in from the countries neighbouring Syria and instead ‘approach this new year with new resolve to address the appalling plight of refugees in Europe’. With the likes of Oxfam considering the UK response to the crisis ‘lacklustre at best, mean-spirited at worst’, charities have worked together in an attempt to persuade David Cameron to change things for the better. The joint letter says: “Last year’s announcement that the UK will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years was a welcome first step, but given the numbers of people searching for safety across the globe, this response is clearly inadequate: it is too slow, too low and too narrow. The UK can and should be doing much more to ensure that refugees are not compelled to take life-threatening journeys or forced into smugglers’ hands.”
 
 
//JOBS AND VOLUNTEERING
 
Job Opportunity for Asylos
Asylos is a pan-European network of volunteers researching information for asylum claims.
The organization is looking to set up an office in the UK. Therefore Asylos are interested in a proactive individual with project management experience to set up and manage activities in the UK. To apply, please fill out the online form or send an email to info@asylos.eu For more information on Asylos visit their website or Facebook page.
 
Job Opportunity at TDC
The Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) a Brighton & Hove based Community Development organisation with a reputation for excellence in community development training, work and support is currently recruiting a part time community development worker for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities – Mental Health. They are seeking a worker with experience of community development working with BME communities. The successful applicant will work to improve mental health and wellbeing with BME communities in Brighton and Hove.  Please visit their website for more details. The closing date for applications is 12pm Wednesday 20 January.
 
Job opportunity – audience participation for migrant theatre piece – ‘On The Run’
Playwright Tim Cowbury and theatre director Mark Maughan are producing a theatre piece supported by established migrant organisations and theatres called ‘On The Run’. Exploring the UKs relationship with migrants and their stories, it directly engages asylum seekers and refugee participants as part of the piece. They are looking for someone with a background in advocacy, facilitation or community leading to help them design this participation to join them by the start of the year. Contact by email or phone 07834 175984.
 
// UPCOMING EVENTS
 
Saturday 30 January – Bards without Borders 
A free performance in support with Nine Lives at Arcola Theatre in London, Bards Without Borders brings together poets from refugee and migrant backgrounds to create new writing and performance in response to the work of William Shakespeare. Their first gig last month sold out and places are limited and will sell out fast! For more information visit their website.
 
Until 30 January – ‘Nine Lives’
Ishmael has fled from his home in Zimbabwe where he faced persecution due to homophobic threats. Seeking a new life in Leeds, his journey threads humour and humanity to tell the real personal story behind asylum headlines. If you missed the opportunity to watch this play with us last month, now is the perfect time! Running until January 30 at Arcola Theatre in London. For more information visit website.
 
10 February 2016 – Refugees, IDPs and Politics in the MENA Region
12:00 until 14:00, Arts C333, University of Sussex
Speaker: Open discussion featuring initial contribution from Greg Shapland and Sanctuary on Sea Management Committee member Michael Collyer.
 
16-18 February – Migrations Europa Exchange
A mini festival celebrating the positive contribution migrants bring to Britain and London life, Migration Europa Exchange will involve an educational tour through Jewish quarters in Hackney, an art exhibition presenting migrants’ work, folk dance workshops as well as a dance and dinner performance evening, presenting new commissions by dancers of all ages and abilities. It is bound to be a great festival, so for more information visit their website.
 
Saturday 13 February – Brighton Shelter Build Project Benefit Fundraising Show
In aid of those in need in Northern France, BSBP are helping by voluntarily building waterproof insulated shelters for groups of people currently living in cold, wet tents. From 7pm Pharmacie Coffee Roasters will host a benefit show played by a variety of musicians. £5 donations entry and all bar proceeds go directly to charity. For more information visit Facebook.
 
Monday 15 February – QMUL Refugee Open Day Advice Sessions
As part of Queen Mary University of London’s Refugees Welcome initiative, the Open Day is open to refugees and their families for access to legal aid, with additional Lunch provided free of charge. Held in London from 3-6pm. To register as an individual please visit their online website or as an organised group lawevents@qmul.ac.uk
 
Tuesday 16 February – QMUL Refugee Open Day Advice Session
A second Open Day from QMUL, this is open to refugees and their families in the UK interested in access to education and recognition of qualifications. Held in London between 1-6.30pm, lunch provided free of charge. To register as an individual please visit their online website or as an organised group email lawevents@qmul.ac.uk .
 
Wednesday 17 February – QMUL Public Event
Open to the public, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Professor François Crépeau will be speaking on ‘Banking on Mobility over a Generation: From Criminalisation to Administration of Migration Flows’. From 6.30-8pm and held in London, please visit their online website to register.
 
Thursday 18 February – QMUL Public Event
A second event open to the public, the screening of ‘Leave to Remain’ will be followed by a discussion with the director and talk from Professor Elspeth Guild from QMUL. Held at the Queen Mary University of London, between 6.30-8pm. To register please visit their online website.