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Please help fill our emergency container for Lesvos!

As freezing winter temperatures approach, there is a desperate shortage of supplies for refugees living on the Greek island of Lesvos. Our incredible partner Attika Human Support provides over 6,000 people each month with essentials like clothing, bedding and hygiene products. But right now, their warehouse is nearly empty.

Lesvos donation callout poster

On Sunday 18th November we aim to fill a shipping container in East London. We’re asking you to group together with your friends, local community or workplace – and organise a mini collection – then bring these donated items to us on Sunday 18th November. We’ll get these items to Lesvos, where they’re needed most.

Items include:

  • Adult and children’s clothing
  • Warm socks, hats, gloves and scarves
  • Hygiene items
  • Footwear
  • Food

If you would like to coordinate a collection please register: http://bit.ly/LesvosContainer. You’ll receive all the relevant info about most-needed items, sorting, packing and how to drop-off your donations.

Please note: unfortunately we do not have the capacity to receive individual donations.

Spread the word: we need over 1500 boxes to fill the container so we really need your help!

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A Brief Timeline Of The Human Rights Situation In Calais

On the occasion of the two-year milestone since the demolition of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, we have co-published a report with Refugee Rights Europe in order to highlight the human rights situation which has been unfolding in Northern France.

After decades of encampments and evictions, it is evident that the state approach tried so far is simply not working. It is high time for meaningful change. In light of this, Refugee Rights Europe and Help Refugees urgently call on the French and British governments to find new, constructive solutions, including:

  • A non-violent approach adopted as the default position by French authorities, and a de-escalation of the tense situation for refugees and displaced people in Northern France.
  • The urgent provision of adequate shelter, food, water and sanitation, as well as accessible information and legal guidance.
  • An increased presence of social workers, interpreters, medical staff and psychologists in northern France, and assurance that such services are available without discrimination based on immigration status.
  • An end to the harassment and intimidation of volunteers and charities providing displaced people with humanitarian aid.
  • Expanded safe and legal pathways to Britain, through which asylum applications, Dublin Regulation family reunification applications and Dubs cases can be processed.

For many years, a bottle-neck scenario has been unfolding in Northern France, characterised by precarity, rough-sleeping, dangerous and unauthorised border-crossings, and excessive police violence whichoften takes the shape of dangerous interventions.

A child walks towards police during a raid of the 20 establishments providing food for the residents of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp (Refugee Info Bus)

The use of tear gas and intimidation tactics, as well as what would appear to amount to intentional sleep deprivation, appears to be part of a conscious tactic by the French state to create a hostile environment for refugees and asylum seekers in Northern France.

Such an approach – combined with an undeniable failure on part of the British government to meaningfully facilitate safe and legal passage for prospective asylum-seekers and those looking to be reunited with family in Britain – directly hinders an effective resolution to a detrimental and decades-long situation. Will you take action and write to your MP condemning the current approach? We have written a template letter that you can send in less than 60 seconds. Please join us in demanding a better response to the crisis in France today. 

 


Hundreds of displaced people – in Calais, Grande-Synthe and beyond – are sleeping on the streets. They are preparing to face another winter without shelter, and are dependent on volunteers for support. If you are able to help us help them, please donate here.

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Job: apply now to be Product Coordinator at Code Your Future

Code Your Future is the UK’s first coding school for refugees and asylum seekers. We are looking for a Product Coordinator to grow the user-base for an exciting new project: a service directory for refugees and asylum seekers, built by refugees and asylum seekers.

We are seeking an enthusiastic, organised individual to join the Code Your Future team for four months as we look to onboard users before our nationwide launch next year.

You will be working alongside the Project Manager and developers to run the user testing, prioritise new features, reach out to potential partner organisations and bring the product to market.

Main responsibilities:

– Expand the service to at least two cities outside London
– Conduct outreach to refugee and migrant support organisations to expand the user base of the service directory to hundreds of active users
– Collate feedback from testers and users; define key problem areas and prioritise areas of improvement for the service directory
– Oversee the inputs from designers to ensure it is aligned with users’ expectations and needs
– Organise testing online and face-to-face sessions to identify new pain points of the service
– Reviewing app reviews & managing customer support emails

The successful candidate will be have an interest in software and a passion for ‘tech for good’ projects, with good attention to detail and strong communication skills. They will have the ability to work both in teams and on their own.

The successful candidate will be have an interest in software and a passion for ‘tech for good’ projects, with good attention to detail and strong communication skills. They will have the ability to work both in teams and on their own.

We would especially like to encourage people from minority, migrant and refugee backgrounds to apply.

ABOUT THE ROLE

Contract details: Fixed term four month contract
Salary & time commitment negotiable (minimum 3 days a week)
Reporting directly to Project Manager
Based in London

Required skills

-Management / coordination experience
-Organisational skills
-Interest in technology as a force for good
-A passion for refugee and migrant rights
-Strong verbal and written communication skills
-Willingness to follow leads over phone and email
-Proficient in web-based software services (Google Suite, Trello)

Desirable skills

-Experience working with refugees, asylum seekers or migrants
-Project management experience
-Some experience in web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)

ABOUT CODE YOUR FUTURE

Code Your Future are a non-profit organisation supporting refugees with the dream of becoming developers. With projects in London, Manchester and Glasgow, we are the UK’s first coding school for refugees.

Deadline: Monday October 29th 2018, 11.30pm

Salary: London Living Wage

HOW TO APPLY

Send your CV, along with a cover letter, to with the email title ‘Product Coordinator application’, to directoryapplicants@codeyourfuture.io

The successful applicant will have the chance to join the team at an exciting time, as we get ready to launch the product

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Lift the Ban: why people seeking asylum should have the right to work

Right now, right here in the UK, people seeking asylum are banned from working and forced to live on just £5.39 a day. We think this is wrong.

That’s why today, alongside 87 charities, unions, think tanks, faith groups and businesses, we are launching a new campaign to #LiftTheBan and fight for the right to work. Join us. Read the report and sign the petition and tell the Home Secretary to #LiftTheBan!

71% of the public agree that people seeking asylum should be allowed to work, an amazingly high level of agreement for any issue.

But high public support is just one of the countless good reasons and practical arguments to lift the ban.

“I want to work – I don’t want any more hand-me-downs. I want to enjoy the reward of my sweat. I don’t want to rely on the Government’s benefits – I want to work so I can prove myself to my children.” Rose

We believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance of contributing to our society and integrating into our communities. This means giving people seeking asylum the right to work so that they can use their skills and live in dignity.

Our coalition of charities, think tanks and faith groups argue in this report that giving people seeking asylum the right to work would:

  • Strengthen people’s chances of being able to integrate into their new communities.
  • Allow people seeking asylum to live in dignity and to provide for themselves and their families.
  • Give people the opportunity to use their skills and make the most of their potential.
  • Improve the mental health of people in the asylum system.
  • Help to challenge forced labour, exploitation, and modern slavery

It’s time for a change. Join us in urging the Government to move rapidly to grant the right to work for people seeking asylum by reading the full report and signing our petition demanding the government #LiftTheBan.


We want to thank all the brilliant organisations that have contributed to the Lift The Ban campaign. We are honoured to be a part of the coalition to grant asylum seekers the right to work, and work with 87 organisations all demonstrating that when we work together, we can create long-lasting, positive change at the highest level. #ChooseLove.

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“I want people from my country to be proud of me” Meet Peyman, the young artist with big dreams

Peyman is 15 years old and from Afghanistan. He’s a resident at Omnes, the pioneering housing and social inclusion project we support in Kilkis, Northern Greece. He’s also an incredible illustrator and painter. We asked him about his work and his hopes for the future.

In the 1920s, the small region of Kilkis in Northern Greece became a land of refuge for thousands of people fleeing present-day Turkey. Nearly 100 years later, Help Refugees have partnered with a local association, Omnes, in this same area. This innovative group provide accommodation for refugees and local Greeks alike. But this work goes beyond just providing housing. It’s also about inclusion, and finding ways to rebuild people’s lives in a time of crisis.

“our beliefs may be different, but that doesn’t have to make space between people”

One resident is 15-year-old Peyman. Originally from Afghanistan, Peyman and his family have made their home in Kilkis, in housing provided by Omnes. During our last visit, we spotted some of Peyman’s artwork and we’re now thrilled to be able to share it with you here.

Peyman explained the way moving from Afghanistan to Greece has changed his perspective on people. Speaking about his Greek neighbours, he explains that “our beliefs may be different, but that doesn’t have to make space between people. Really, I believe all the people in the world are the same.”

While settling into life in Greece, Peyman still has a strong sense of where he’s from, saying “I just hope anyone who sees my paintings enjoys them. But for people of my country, I want them to be proud of me”.

Looking forward, Peyman wants to continue his work, aiming to exhibit and sell his works as a professional artist.

We’re proud to support groups that do more than just help people survive – they enable to rebuild and thrive. We can’t wait to see what Peyman creates next.

 


Find out more about Omnes, and donate to support incredible projects that allow people to flourish.

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Home Office unlawfully detained asylum seekers under Dublin III regulation, rules court

A landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal has found that the British government has unlawfully detained dozens – and potentially hundreds – of asylum seekers under Dublin III regulation.

The test case, which was brought by five asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan who were detained between January 2014 and March 2017, challenged the provisions of the regulation.

Dublin III states that asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first safe country they arrive in. Under the regulation, if someone arrives in the UK and claims asylum having first passed through another safe country, the Home Office can deport them back to that country.

The five asylum seekers who had brought the case were all detained under Dublin III’s  “significant risk of absconding”.

While discussions between the British government and that safe country have taken place, the Home Office has been detaining said asylum seeker indefinitely. Under Dublin III, states can detain people if there is “significant risk of absconding”.

Stephanie Tonmi (R), a former detainee at Yarl's Wood tells Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot about her time in detention. Photo: Getty

Stephanie Tonmi (R), a former detainee at Yarl’s Wood tells Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot about her time in detention. Photo: Getty

However, there had been no stated criteria for “risk of absconding” under UK law at the time these five asylum seekers were detained, and as a result, judges ruled that this practice was illegal.

The judgment means that anybody detained under Dublin III regulations from 1 January 2014 until 15 March 2017 were unlawfully detained, and may now be able to claim damages from the government for false imprisonment.

The law states that the government can detain people being assessed under the regulation if they are at “significant risk of absconding”.

“This landmark judgment has huge implications for those who were detained under the provision in the Dublin regulation [Dublin III],” said Krisha Prathepan, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who represented the five claimants.

 

“It is deeply concerning that the Home Office’s unlawful conduct may have led to the detention of so many people without any lawful basis. In effect, the Home Office has unlawfully detained hundreds or even thousands of individuals seeking international protection.”
– Krisha Prathepan, Duncan Lewis Solicitors

The ruling comes just one day after the Court of Appeal ruled that the Home Office had acted unlawfully in not giving reasons to children refused entry to Britain under the Dubs Amendment.

The UK is the only country in Europe in which indefinite immigration detention is legal.

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Government broke the law by not giving reasons for Dubs children rejections, court finds

The Court of Appeal has ruled today (3 October 2018) that the government acted unlawfully in not giving reasons to children refused entry to Britain under the Dubs Amendment.

The judgement is the result of a two-year-long legal action taken by charity Help Refugees, represented by Leigh Day, to ensure that children considered for transfer under the Dubs scheme are treated fairly.

Lord Alf Dubs, who had originally put forward the amendment to the Immigration Act, said after the ruling: “For two years, we have fought tooth and nail for the rights of these vulnerable children. Today, I’m relieved to say that it was worth it.

“Every unaccompanied child we have turned away deserves an explanation and a chance to appeal the decision, and we’re delighted to courts have agreed with us on that.

“The decision gives some hope to thousands of vulnerable child refugees in Europe.”

Help Refugees argued that children being considered for relocation had been denied fundamental procedural safeguards. Children were given no written decisions and no detailed reasons for the grounds of their refusal. As a result, there was no review mechanism by which children could challenge decisions they believed were wrong.

With “patently inadequate” reasons for refusals, accessing the courts of England and Wales was made effectively impossible for lone refugee children.

At an earlier stage in court proceedings, the Home Office argued that it could not give each child reasons for their refusal because this would take too long. But evidence emerged in the Court of Appeal that the Home Office had, in fact, internally decided not to convey fuller reasons for fear that children refused would bring legal challenges.

Help Refugees also argued that the government’s consultation with local authorities concerning the number of spaces available for children was wholly inadequate. The Court of Appeal dismissed this part of the claim, upholding the lawfulness of the consultation. This means the number of children eligible for the Dubs scheme will remain capped at 480.

Josie Naughton, CEO and Co-founder of Help Refugees, said:

“Today’s judgement rightly forces the government to recognise that every child must be given reasons for refusal under the Dubs scheme. For two years, vulnerable children have been rejected without any explanation. Children who received these decisions are now missing; for them it is too late. These spaces, that still remain unfilled, could have saved their lives. Instead, children have been left in mental anguish, at risk of exploitation and abuse.

“We’re saddened that there will be no further consultation, but remain committed to hold the government to account to ensure all 480 spaces are filled. Winter is fast approaching and we have a responsibility to keep these children safe.”

You can join Help Refugees in calling for #DubsNow by writing to your MP with this template letter.

Rosa Curling, solicitor from Leigh Day, added: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has ruled that unaccompanied refugee children must given reasons if refused transfer to the UK under the Dubs Amendment.  These are potentially life-altering decisions for a particularly vulnerable group of children. It is essential that children know why they are refused and have the possibility effectively to challenge decisions they believe to be unlawful.”

Under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, otherwise known as the Dubs Amendment, the Home Office was required, as soon as possible after the passing of the Immigration Act 2016, to make arrangements to relocate to the UK and support a “specified number” of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe. That number was to be determined in consultation with local authorities.

The initial number was set at 350, but following investigations by Help Refugees’ legal team, the Home Office was compelled to admit that 130 places had been overlooked and the “specified number”  was accordingly increased to 480.

The Help Refugees litigation also compelled the Home Office to consent to a declaration that the “specified number” of children to be transferred under the Dubs Amendment was exclusive of any children transferred under the UK’s pre-existing EU law obligations (the Dublin III Regulation). The Home Office had initially sought to argue that it could meet its obligations under the Dubs Amendment principally by transferring children to the UK, which it was already required to transfer by the Dublin III Regulation. Transfers of children under the Dublin Amendment itself began only after Help Refugees brought its legal challenge.


This could be the third winter that many Dubs children spend living on the streets and in the refugee camps in Greece, France and Italy. Together, we can make sure that the government fills all 480 Dubs spaces by the end of the year. Write to your MP using our template today, and call for #DubsNow.

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