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Elmbridge CAN visits Westminster calling for a more humane asylum system
10 December 2017
Elmbridge CAN joined City of Sanctuary in Parliament on Tuesday 28 November to call for a more humane asylum system.
The event, part of City of Sanctuary's Dignity Not Destitution campaign, was hosted by Bristol West MP Thangham Debbonaire who is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees.
The day-long event included refugee testimonies and poetry readings by primary school students. And it also gave MPs the opportunity to meet with those who have fled war and persecution.
Kemal, an asylum seeker living with his family in Elmbridge, gave a moving testimony at the event. He cannot return to his native Turkey for fear of being summarily imprisoned. Kemal has applied to work while application for asylum is processed but the Home Office has repeatedly rejected his application despite interventions by his local MP, Dominic Raab, Minister of State in the Ministry of Justice.
The aim of the event - organised by City of Sanctuary, Asylum Matters and other partners - was to build support for an end to Government policies which are causing poverty and homelessness among asylum seekers.
It provided a rare opportunity for MPs to meet with those who have fled persecution and sought safety here in the UK. Often people who seek protection here have fled reprisals because they had spoken out against their own leaders. This event has offered many sanctuary seekers the chance to speak openly with British MPs about their experience of enforced destitution, poverty and the contribution they are making to UK society.
Elmbridge CAN's Co-Chair, Steve Wells, said after the meeting:
"It was great for Kemal to have the opportunity to give personal testimony at Westminster, at the seat of Government. He was able to share his story with MPs and help them to understand the cruel injustice of him not being able to play a part in our society, to which he so desperately wants to contribute.
Kemal spoke eloquently of the spectre of destitution that looms over him and his family, and the constant fear this engenders."
Unfortunately, Kemal's local MP could not be there to hear him speak. But we will arrange a follow up meeting to decide what more can be done to help Kemal in his quest to work and look after his family.
The annual flagship event, open to members of the public as well as MPs, highlights the work of the City of Sanctuary movement (of which Elmbridge CAN is a member). It also serves to remind the public about Britain's proud history of providing welcome and safety to those fleeing persecution.
The City of Sanctuary network provides practical ways for ordinary citizens to demonstrate solidarity with and support for refugees in their own communities. It promotes a grassroots “culture of welcome” across all sectors, towns, cities and villages, as well as in schools, colleges and the business world.
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Image: City of Sanctuary