Saturday 8 December 2012

Stop Destitution: Human Rights Day 2012 Monday 10th December

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 25

This Human Rights Day Monday 10th December at 7pm you are invited to join Bristol Refugee Rights for a public meeting about the destitution of asylum seekers in Bristol, followed by a multi-cultural feast (£5 suggested donation) and music. 

The evening will feature witness statements from people who have experienced destitution whilst waiting for their claim to be resolved and an address from Elinor Harris of Refugee Action and the Still Human Still Here campaign. There will also be space for small group discussions and feedback to the meeting. Any surplus raised will be placed in the Sue Njie Hardship Fund and used to support people who are destitute in Bristol.

The matter is topical in Bristol. Following the courageous and desperate protest in July of one Algerian asylum seeker in Bristol, who slept rough outside the Council House to bring attention to his plight, local Councillors have joined together to present a motion to Bristol City Council. The motion deplores the consequences of current legislation and expresses an intention to alleviate such destitution where it occurs in Bristol. There will be information available at the Human Rights Day meeting on how to help us fight against the deliberate denial of basic necessities to members of our community.

Why are people destitute?
People seeking asylum (i.e. protection from persecution) are unique in being the only group of people in the UK who can be forced into destitution as a matter of government policy. Unlike for other people who have no housing or income, there is no welfare ‘safety net’ – except one which is granted only on the condition that people agree to return to countries they are terrified to return to.

People claiming asylum are entitled to government accommodation & a financial allowance (£36 per week), until they have received a decision on their asylum claim. After this, people who are refused (often due to failures in the system) are likely to become destitute. By this we mean that they have no legal means of securing any money, or a roof over their head, except for overstretched & temporary charitable support. 

What is the Sue Njie Hardship Fund?
Bristol Refugee rights and the Bristol branch of the British Red Cross jointly provide funds so that destitute asylum seekers can receive £10 per week for up to 12 weeks in any 12 months. To do this for all destitute asylum seekers in Bristol we need at least £12,000 per year. (That’s helping about 100 people). Obviously £10 per week is not enough to live on, but it shows that some people care about their situation, and they can at least top up a mobile to keep communication open. If we collect more for the fund, we can support people for a few more weeks while they try to re-open their asylum claims. 
Sue Njie (1953-2009) was the founder of Bristol Refugee Rights: she was always ready to give away the little that she had to someone with nothing. So we decided to put the Fund into her name as a memorial to her.

Want to find out more or get involved?
This event is supported by:
Bristol Refugee Rights
Bristol Hospitality Network
Bristol City of Sanctuary
Migrant Rights Centre Bristol
Still Human Still Here
Dignity for Asylum Seekers

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