Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network – Annual report for AGM 2014

qarn logo smQuaker Asylum and Refugee Network is a network of Quakers across UK who share a concern about the injustices that are practiced in our name, and a determination to bring about change for those who have been forced to seek asylum and to reach out with support for those who share our concern. QARN members hold discussions and share information through the email group, and those who can meet together about four times a year in a different part of the country each time.

We have continued to meet – September, November 2013, February 2014.

We use our face-to-face meetings to discuss our concerns, and to find a Quaker response to the injustices we find.  We consider ways to bring this alive to other Quakers, and to plan our engagement with others who are walking the same path so that we can effectively combine our strengths to bring about positive change.

The Steering Group consists of Sheila Mosley (XX to end of 2016), Tim Neal (x to end of 2015) and Barbara Forbes (x to end of 2016).  We thank Elizabeth Coleman for her strong steer as she steps down from the Steering Group.

Going forward we would like to be able to meet in other locations, and for some of us maybe stay overnight so that the next day we can visit local meetings to talk about the work of QARN

  • QARN decided in the early days to focus on those who were in detention which is in our Quaker tradition, and to join our voices to those who sought a commitment to stopping the practice of detaining children for immigration purposes.  There have been welcome changes in the system and fewer children are now held in detention centres, but it is still a live issue and remains a concern.
  • We added a second major concern, that of bringing an end to the practice of holding people who have been refused asylum in indefinite detention, again for immigration purposes.  We have a formal link to the Detention Forum.
  • In 2013/14 we decided to widen our focus to work for the ending of destitution, and we are in the process of setting up a specific link to Still Human Still Here

We sent a contribution to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Asylum

We have a useful link with Jessica Metheringham who has responsibility for Quaker Parliamentary Liaison and have been able to build links between Jessica and the Detention Forum.

She also formed a link for us with issues around the Immigration Bill that has been going through Parliament.

We have a link to the Churches Refugee Network

Our issues link closely with those of QPSW and Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture

Membership of Detention Forum: The Detention Forum is a loose network of over 30 NGOs who are working on immigration detention issues.  We are working together to build a momentum to question the legitimacy of immigration detention which has become such a normal part of the British immigration system.  We are not a membership organisation, but a collective of organisations who want to work together to challenge immigration detention. 

QARN has two members on the Detention Forum working groups, one considering Indefinite Detention, and the other in the Judicial Oversight group.

Social media: We continue to manage a website where reports and information is uploaded alongside ideas about what you can do: http://qarn.org.uk

We also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/QuakersQARN

During the past twelve months we have had a presence at:

  • Britain Yearly Meeting, with a Special Interest Group and a stall at the Group Fair
  • QPSW Spring Conference 2014, where Tim presented workshops

 

Our individual interests: it is clear from our circle time that we have a wide variety of interests and involvement in supporting individuals and groups, and with organisations that aim to change the system

Future plans in the making:

Yearly Meeting Gathering: we will have a presence at the Gathering, 2-9 August 2014

Conference: We are organising a conference with Woodbrooke that will take place over the weekend of 6-8 February 2015. We agreed that the following two points were a good working description of aims for such a conference:

  • To provide an opportunity for mutual support for Friends doing very emotionally demanding work supporting people dependent on UKBA decisions and facing detention, destitution and/or deportation.
  • To support and encourage political action for change such as bringing an end to indefinite detention and the use of destitution as an instrument of immigration control.

Further statements: we plan to produce statements relating to other aspects of the asylum system that concern us.

25 April 2014