The latest news from Asylum Welcome.
We welcome the announcement on 9th November 2018 that, influenced by the recommendations of Stephen Shaw’s reports, the government commits to reduce by 40% the number of people detained under immigration powers in the UK. We welcome the decision to close Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire. Reducing the number of detention centres and those detained within them is an important step towards a fairer asylum and immigration system in the U.K.
For almost 25 years, Asylum Welcome has seen first-hand the human impact of detention at Campsfield.
With this historic announcement we want to pay tribute to many people:
- to people detained at Campsfield who have struggled to maintain their safety, dignity, health and family relationships
- to local volunteers who have been part of the Asylum Welcome detainee support service and Campsfield visiting group and helped ensure that detainees have a daily visit and are able to communicate better with doctors, lawyers and their families
- to the networks of individuals and professional bodies who support our work and support the welfare of detainees, including the long-standing Close Campsfield Campaign
- and finally we pay tribute to those staff members at Campsfield who carried out their duties with respect and compassion.
Asylum Welcome will work with the remaining detainees until Campsfield closes in May 2019. Asylum Welcome’s other services for asylum seekers and refugees living in the community in Oxfordshire will continue into the future. In coming months we will be reviewing the implications for Asylum Welcome’s work so that we can put our energy and experience where it is most useful, pass on what we have learned to other visiting groups, and celebrate the legacy of our visitors. We will be consulting widely on the best direction for our organisation.
We urge members of the public to maintain an interest in the welfare of detainees who will continue to be held at removal centres elsewhere in the UK that are considered to run a more harsh regime than at Campsfield. Their safety relies on your concern.
Thank you for your support for the work of Asylum Welcome.
With demand for Asylum Welcome’s services increasing and our voice gaining prominence in national policy debates, we are seeking to appoint outstanding individuals to our Board, including the roles of Treasurer and Company Secretary.
- Be committed to the rights and welfare of refugees and to Asylum Welcome’s vision, mission and values.
- Have demonstrable expertise and/or experience of a relevant field, particularly one of the following: finance and accounting; fundraising; HR and organisational development; administration and management; health and/or advice services to vulnerable people; lived experience of asylum determination processes, in the UK or elsewhere.
- Be experienced more widely in the management of people and/or resources, for example by working in a management team.
- Be able to contribute to and ensure Asylum Welcome’s financial sustainability and strategic development.
Get in touch…
Email your CV and a short (no more than 1 page) covering letter setting out why you want to join us and how you meet the person specification to Marcus Thompson, Chair of Trustees firstname.lastname@example.org
Being a trustee
- Actively participate in meetings, offering guidance and support to ensure that Asylum Welcome continues to do the vital and life-saving work it was set up to do.
- Scrutinise Asylum Welcome’s budgets, management accounts and financial statements, ensuring that they meet the organisation’s needs and the relevant regulatory requirements.
- Ensure Asylum Welcome is complying with its governing documents and the relevant law, as well as updating, following and reviewing its own policies and procedures.
- Act, with care and skill, in Asylum Welcome’s best interests.
For further information, click here.
Asylum Welcome is governed by a Board of 6-12 Trustees elected at the AGM. Trustees (who must be Members) normally serve for 3 years. Additional trustees may be co-opted.
The Board meets 6-8 times a year, currently early evening on a Wednesday. Regular dates are agreed a year in advance. Individual trustees also join or lead the Board’s Sub-Committees and working groups.
This is a short talk given by Kate Smart Director of Asylum Welcome at Weatley URC Church , January 2018.
Asylum Welcome is delighted to announce that the Right Reverend Dr. Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, is to become the charity's patron. Bishop Steven has a deep interest in the welfare of refugees and is keen to support efforts to enable them to rebuild their lives. Asylum Welcome achieves that through a large network of compassionate and expert volunteers and through the support of people in all parts of community.
In 2015, following evidence and criticisms from a range of organisations and individuals including under-cover film from detention centres, the Home Secretary commissioned Stephen Shaw (former Prisons Ombudsman) to carry out a review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons. The Shaw Report was published in January 2016. Testimony from Asylum Welcome is cited the report. The report concludes:
“I my view, a smaller, more focused, strategically planned immigration detention estate, subject to the many reforms I have outlined in this report, would both be more protective of the welfare of vulnerable people and deliver better value for the taxpayer. Immigration detention has increased, is increasing, and – whether by better screening, more effective reviews, or formal time limit – it ought to be reduced."
You can read the full report (which includes an executive summary) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-into-the-welfare-in-detention-of-vulnerable-persons
and Asylum Welcome’s submission
Asylum Welcome’s annual fundraising appeal has a special urgency this year. Asylum Welcome is playing a vital part in the local response to the growing international refugee crisis. Our services are getting busier, with more new arrivals and more complex needs. We are also advising the local authorities on preparations to accept resettled Syrians. All of this is only possible through the dedicated support of over 120 volunteers, who also continue to run advice sessions, provide English lessons, food parcels, detention visits, a youth club and more.
Asylum Welcome relies heavily on local donations and is asking local people to support its appeal this winter.
At this time of year, as the nights grow colder and darker, refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are desperately poor and hungry, sometimes destitute and homeless, need the help Asylum Welcome provides more than ever.
Please read our appeal letter.
The Immigration Bill will be debated in parliament on 13th October. If implemented, it will have far-reaching impact on asylum seekers, refugees and detainees, and on local communities and local authorities.
In particular we are concerned about:
- Changes to the right of appeal
- Changes to asylum support, especially those changes affecting detainees and those affecting families with children
- New rules for landlords
- The lack of a time limit on detention
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett visits Asylum Welcome on Friday to pay tribute to the charity’s efforts to support people who have survived war, terrorism, and human rights violations and who now face detention and destitution in Oxford.
Director Kate Smart described new Home Office proposals remove asylum support payments and accommodation from families with young children as “a complete absence of basic, decent humanitarian values”.
The charity will be writing to the Home Office to express concerns about the proposals, which, it argues, will inevitably lead to children joining the numbers of those who are destitute.
It is also planning to step up its practical assistance. In addition to food parcels, the charity will begin providing breakfasts, targeted at those who are sleeping rough. Asylum Welcome runs with 120 local volunteers.
“We don’t have the resources to provide beds for people” said Kate Smart “but food, friendship, advice and a welcoming place during the day, is what we are good at.”