Jack Steadman

We are recruiting in Calais: apply now!

Help Refugees is recruiting volunteers to fill crucial roles for our operation in Calais. Alongside our partners, Help Refugees runs the biggest aid operation in northern France.

These roles offer applicants a chance to gain experience working as part of humanitarian response to the worsening situation refugees face in Calais & across Northern France.

Living conditions at the border in Calais

There are more than 1,500 people sleeping rough in northern France – including 200+ unaccompanied minors

You will be working from our Calais warehouse, alongside our partners L’Auberge des Migrants, Refugee Youth Service, Refugee Community Kitchen, Utopia56 and Refugee Info Bus, Refugee Women and Children’s Centre and School Bus Project.

Despite the eviction of the Calais ‘Jungle’ in October 2016 and the Dunkirk/Grande Synthe camp burning down in April 2017, there are still around 1,500 refugees sleeping rough in the forests in northern France. The youngest unaccompanied minor in Calais is currently just nine years old.

We welcome applications from all persons regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, belief, or age. But, as members of ethnic minority groups, refugee backgrounds and disabled people are currently under-represented at this level, we would encourage applicants from members of these groups. Interviews and role offers will be based on merit alone.

We are currently seeking applicants for the below positions in Calais. Click the link for more information about each role:

Welcome Volunteer

Warehouse Manager

Donations Coordinator

Distribution Team Member

Communications Intern

If you have any questions, please read the FAQs on our Volunteer in Calais page first.

***TO APPLY: once you have read the role description, you can apply for a role by applying to volunteer through this link and then selecting the relevant role when asked if you would like to apply for a coordinator role.***

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Help Refugees – open call for funding applications

Help Refugees is delighted to announce the Spring “Choose Love” Pot: an open call for small grant applications.

The Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot opens today (March 1st), and will close on March 31st 2019.

What is the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot?

Through the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot, we aim to support grassroots refugee support groups operating in Europe (including the UK!) and the Middle East. Unfortunately the Pot is not available to organisations based in the Americas.

The Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot can be used to fund work in any humanitarian sector. We will not be able to fund any political activities.

Though we aim to support displaced people including refugees, asylum-seekers, internally-displaced persons and local communities affected by migration, we understand the intersectionality of displacement. For example, we have funded organisations who work with homeless people, on the basis that homelessness is a very real danger for many asylum-seekers.

Who can apply?

Through the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot, we aim to support grassroots groups operating in Europe (including the UK!) and the Middle East. Unfortunately the Pot is not available to organisations based in the Americas.

Help Refugees does not, as a rule, fund large International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs). We exist to support and celebrate small teams of dedicated people.

Where possible, we work with local organisations. We believe in supporting a local response from both affected communities, displaced and local alike. If you are an international group, the more local staff or volunteers you have, the more sustainable you are.

More information about the Pot:

❤ Successful applicants will receive a one-off grant of up to 10,000 GBP.
❤ The submission period for applications is 1st to 31st March 2019.
❤ We will come back to you by Friday 17th May 2019 with a response.
❤ We will respond to every applicant, but unfortunately are unable to provide detailed feedback on every proposal that is not accepted.
❤ If your application is shortlisted, we will: 1) Contact you with any questions about the application, and to let you know we’ll be contacting your referees 2) Arrange a call to talk about your work more and finally 3) We’ll come and visit you to see the work in person.
❤ For those shortlisted, we will request an updated financial report, an impact report, details of your governance and reporting processes.
❤ In the grant agreement we will ask for full narrative and financial reporting, including photographs and case studies.

How to apply:

Please download and fill out this form, then email projects@helprefugees.org with the title ‘Spring Choose Love Pot Application’.


FAQ’s

  • My group has already received funding from Help Refugees. Can we still apply?
    Yes, we’re happy for existing or past partners to apply for this grant.
  • Can the grant make up part of a larger overall budget?
    Yes, however we will need to know exactly which aspect of the budget it will be used for.
  • Can I apply to retrospectively fill a gap in our funding?
    No, the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot cannot be used to cover past gaps.
  • Can the grant be used to cover ‘core’ or operational costs.
    Yes, we’re happy to support these costs.
  • Will you be able to offer support with reporting, if we need it?
    Yes, we will be happy to help on this front.
  • Who can I contact to ask further questions?
    You can reach us at projects@helprefugees.org with any questions we haven’t answered. However, please bear in mind that we are a small team and may take a few days to get back to you.
  • What projects will you not fund?
    We are not able to fund projects working inside Syria at this time.
    Significant asset purchases (e.g. land).
    Generally theatrical productions and art-based projects will not be considered.
    Funding is also not available for student expeditions, schools, councils, volunteer-tourism projects, academic studies, sponsored activities (e.g. walks, runs, challenges etc), fundraising initiatives, or event sponsorship. Similarly, events and parades will also not be considered.
    Film production will not be considered.
    Finally, we won’t fund businesses or social enterprises.

The submission period for applications is 1st to 31st March 2019.


Who are Help Refugees?

Help Refugees was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who wanted to help; when we arrived in Calais with a van full of donations and a load of cash, there were no formal actors to hand it over to. Together with a huge number of amazing volunteers, and in partnership with French charity l’Auberge des Migrants, we rented and set up a warehouse and distribution system. By continuing to fundraise back home, we were able to financially support a lot of the grassroots groups operating in ‘the Jungle’ camp in Calais – and started to hear about the needs further east along the European migration routes. We are now a team of 10 in London, with 4 field staff, working in 11 different countries, supporting 80 local and grassroots projects across all sectors.

Our work spans emergency response, long-term and inclusive solutions, and advocacy. We operate inclusively, supporting local and ‘host’ communities as well as newer residents.

Everything we do is motivated by our core values of dignity, hope, respect and humanity.

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Three years ago, a Calais eviction left 129 children unaccounted for. Where are they now?

On the last day of February in 2016, the eviction of the southern half of the Calais “Jungle” began and residents were evicted. Authorities had said that there were only 800-1,000 people living in the south, so that’s how many accommodation spaces were made available.

Our team on the ground knew that in reality the number was much higher. Two weeks earlier, Help Refugees volunteers had counted 5,497 people, including 651 children – 423 of whom were unaccompanied – in the camp. Over half of these were in the south.

Associations in Calais warned authorities that children would go missing in an eviction without adequate safeguarding measures. In the census after the eviction, volunteers found that 129 unaccompanied minors were unaccounted for.

In the months that followed some of these minors returned to northern France, and our partners were able to track a small number of them down and offer their support. For the most part, though, we don’t know what happened. Many of them will have been at huge risk of exploitation and trafficking. Many will have joined the reported 10,000 missing unaccompanied children in Europe.

Today there are more than 150 unaccompanied minors in northern France, living in flimsy tents, on the streets, under bridges and in forests. They wait for the UK government to provide the legal routes it promised them. Instead of legal routes, they have been given more walls, fences and barbed wire.

Slow, inefficient and unfair

Under the Dubs Amendment, many of these kids have been eligible for transfer to the UK for nearly three years. If proper systems of support had been put in place by the French and UK governments, those children could now be living in safety.

An incomprehensibly slow, inefficient and unfair asylum system has left thousands of children living in limbo. In the time it’s taken for the Home Office to start the process of filling the 480 spaces it has committed to,  hundreds more have gone missing.

As February temperatures hit new highs in the UK, it’s easy to forget about the threatening cold of a winter’s night. It is still winter, though, and children are still homeless and ignored. We can’t let another year go by while they remain in this condition.


What can you do to help?

If you have one minute you can write to your MP:

To ask them to ensure the spaces available to unaccompanied minors under the Dubs scheme in their constituency are filled as soon as possible. You can use our template here – it only takes 30 seconds!

If you have one day you can arrange a meeting with your MP:

To speak face-to-face with your representative regarding the situation in Calais and the conditions these children are living in. Ask them to confirm their commitment to bringing them to the UK and to offering spaces in their constituency, as well as to bringing up the issue in Parliament.

If you have one week (or longer) you can head to Calais to volunteer:

While they are waiting to be offered the protection to which they are legally entitled, these kids – as well as the many adults sleeping rough in and around Calais – need support from people like you. Head over to the volunteering section of our website or drop us an email via contact@helprefugees.org to find out more about how you can help.

Photo: Beatrice Lily Lorigan/ Refugee Info Bus

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as a Programmes Officer

Help Refugees is looking for a Programmes Officer to join our London team on a full-time basis. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience working for one of the fastest growing charities in the UK. You’ll work alongside a small, dynamic and hard-working team, and have the chance to make a real, tangible impact on the lives of thousands of refugees and displaced people all over the world.

We are looking for someone who is excellent at prioritising and multitasking to support the Help Refugees Programmes team. You will be excellent at building systems and working with the team to ensure the smoothest process for grant administration. You will have the ability to prioritise according to the changing needs in the context and the team, whilst ensuring that the everyday tasks are complete to the highest standard. You will use your initiative when faced with new or complex problems. You will use your positive attitude to work out a way to move forward, and you will also know when to check in with the team.

The Programmes Officer will be line managed by COO and Head of Programmes, based alongside our other core team members in our East London office.

Role and responsibilities

  • Travel arrangements and diary management for Head of Programmes and COO
  • Additional admin support for Head of Programmes and COO including inbox management, meeting preparation and expenses management
  • Writing reports on programmes for donors
  • Writing social media content based on programmes reports
  • Preparing grant proposals and budgets for potential donors
  • Grant administration
  • Providing regular updates to the team based on policy and geo-political changes
  • Minute-taking at meetings
  • Internal communication across Advocacy and Communications teams
  • Field new enquiries to Help Refugees Programmes team
  • Supporting Help Refugees’ field team in Calais and Greece with ad-hoc needs
  • Assisting Head of Programmes and COO with due diligence and compliance for new grants


Essential skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with the team as well as external contacts in a confident and professional manner
  • Highly IT literate with an ability to learn new software quickly; excellent understanding of Microsoft Office and G Suite (Google apps)
  • Excellent administrative and time management skills
  • Meticulous with a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Highly organised and structured, but also willing and able to adapt to changing priorities and different team members’ needs
  • Interest in migration and refugee issues, with a passion in supporting effective grassroots organisations and long-term solutions
  • Enthusiastic and positive attitude, flexible and adaptable
  • Collaborative team player who is willing to support whatever the greatest needs are in the Help Refugees team
  • Ability to use own initiative to ensure all tasks are met

 

Desired

  • Experience writing grant proposals
  • Experience with programme budgeting
  • Language skills
  • Experience using a CRM system e.g. Salesforce

 

We are committed to providing equality and fairness for all and not discriminating on grounds of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, nationality, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, mental health, religion or age. We encourage and celebrate the different qualities that our colleagues, and others we work with, bring to our work. And we believe that seeing things from a wide range of different perspectives helps us to resolve problems, adapt our approaches and develop as an organisation. We want to bring greater diversity to our team and we are keen to receive applications from people who believe they would do this.

 

To apply for this position please send your CV and brief cover letter to projects@helprefugees.org with the subject line “Programmes Officer Application”.

Applications close on 28th February 2019

Start date – ASAP

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Choose Love, the store that sells products for refugees, is back for 2018

The charity pop up store that took London by storm last year is back with more ways to help displaced people this Christmas. The Help Refugees ‘Choose Love’ store will open simultaneously in London and New York offering a totally unique take on the traditional shopping experience.

Choose Love invites visitors to ‘shop your heart out, leave with nothing, and feel the love’. From new items like solar lamps and women’s services to emergency blankets and school bags, every purchase goes towards a similar item for a refugee, distributed by Help Refugees and their partners across Europe and the Middle East. In addition, this year the store will also be offering sleeping bags and support for homeless groups both in the UK and the US.

Each store invites visitors to interact with the items and discover why they’re needed. Split into three sections, each area explores a different stage of a refugee’s journey, from “Survival” (emergency blankets, warm clothing and food) to “Shelter” (tents, sleeping bags and hygiene packs) all the way to the “Future” (educational materials, a dictionary and keys to a home).

New for this year will be the addition of ‘bundles’ of items, which are offered to help people with specific needs, such as the mother and baby bundle, and a collection of services for vulnerable women.

This year, we’re adding ‘bundles’ of items so that shoppers can equip families like this with essential items

There will also be new products on show to support people; like family reunion, which will pay for a lawyer for a refugee separated from their family and a solar lamp, which will allow customers to buy energy and power for people in refugee camps.

Last year, the London store and its online equivalent raised £750,000, helping provide refugees with:

  • 800,000 nutritious meals
  • 3,556 nights of accommodation
  • 25,000 essential winter items for adults, which included 5,000 blankets and 11,000 items of clothing
  • 100,000 essentials for babies and children including 77,000 packs of nappies

Josie Naughton CEO of Help Refugees says, “Last Christmas, the shop became a beacon of compassion in the heart of central London. Choose Love helped people from all walks of life feel empathy for refugees – and do something practical to help.”

“This year, as displaced people attempt to survive another freezing winter in tents and makeshift shelters, we’ll be inviting people to Choose Love once again and support refugees and homeless populations across the globe.”

The store has been carefully designed to create an uplifting yet meaningful retail experience – a striking space where people can learn about refugees while doing something practical to help. In London, Choose Love now covers two floors with the ground floor elegantly showcasing the items and merchandise, and the 1st floor acting as a space to host events, workshops and talks.

Help Refugees volunteers will be on hand to answer any questions and take donations in both London and New York. For those not able to get to the store, www.choose.love offers a seamless online shopping experience. Browse the items, read the stories of the people you will help and pop them in your cart.

All images, stories and items in store come straight from the frontline of the refugee crisis, where the charity works. The concept and design of the store was created by creative collective Glimpse, whose mission is to use creativity for good.

The items on sale will include emergency blankets, children’s shoes, warm gloves, mobile phone credit and more. Costs will range from £4.99 to £499: an option to ‘buy the store’.

LISTING DETAILS:

CHOOSE LOVE LONDON:
Opening: 23 November 2018 Closing: 24 December
Address: 30-32 Fouberts Place, Carnaby, London, W1F 7PS
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 – 6 pm, Sunday 12 – 6 pm

 

CHOOSE LOVE NEW YORK:
Opening: 27 November 2018
Address: 456 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA

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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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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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Calais volunteer’s conviction for Tweet sets a dangerous precedent

Loan Torondel, a former volunteer with Help Refugees partner organisation L’Auberge des Migrants in Calais, France, has been convicted for defamation after posting a photo of two police officers on Twitter.

The tweet, posted by 21-year-old Loan in January 2018, depicts two police officers standing over a resident of one of Calais’ informal camps. Torondel comments on the police confiscation of refugees’ blankets in the caption. In response to the decision, Loan said:

“I acted within my right, I took a picture, I wanted to talk about what was happening in Calais with the collection of blankets in the middle of winter … It still happens… We must continue to talk about it.”

“This is outrageous decision sets a dangerous precedent for anybody attempting to document the disproportionate use of force employed by the police in Calais and throughout the country,” said Nicolas Krameyer, Programme Manager at Amnesty International France. “It will also have a chilling effect on the work of migrant rights defenders and leave migrants and refugees in an even more precarious situation.

“This case highlights the harassment and intimidation of volunteers dedicated to providing aid to migrants and asylum seekers who have been left homeless in northern France after the 2016 closure of the informal ‘Jungle’ camp.

“Criminal defamation laws that inhibit legitimate criticism of public officials are contrary to the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must stop harassing human rights defenders through the courts.”

Loan Torondel is appealing the decision.

An August 2017 survey by Help Refugees and L’Auberge des Migrants found that 76% of refugees and displaced people in Calais had had their blankets taken by police that week; on average, they said it happened three times a week.

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Britain’s asylum dispersal system is on the verge of “catastrophic failure”

14 council leaders and politicians have written an open letter to the government warning that the current asylum system is nearing “catastrophic failure”, and asking Home Secretary Sajid Javid to personally intervene.

With the government just weeks away from signing 10-year asylum accommodation contracts worth £4 billion, public officials from Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland, and the Welsh and Scottish governments have joined forces to condemn the current system.

Critics of the government’s approach are worried that the Home Office does not appear to have reviewed the current system, or included any of the relevant local authorities in the planning process. Many fear that the new contracts could mean even poorer quality accommodation for vulnerable individuals.

Picture: PA

“Our previous experience of the Home Office managing the transition of asylum housing contracts in 2012 was unfortunately one of failure,” reads one letter. “G4S were unable to fulfil their contract, and mass sudden homelessness of hundreds of asylum seekers was only prevented by local authorities stepping in. It is not apparent that lessons have been learned.”

Aileen Campbell, communities secretary in the Scottish government, said: “The handling of the procurement process for the next asylum accommodation contract, particularly the barriers put up to a public sector bid for the contract and the limited engagement with Scottish partners, is extremely disappointing”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are planning meetings with stakeholders across the UK to discuss the concerns they have raised. We are committed to working closely with local partners to identify, manage and prevent welfare and cohesion problems.”

Help Refugees calls upon the government to heed the warnings of local authorities on poor housing standards, forced bedroom sharing, and lack of accountability.

In granting local authorities and devolved governments greater flexibility and powers in overseeing asylum accommodation, the government would be ensuring that dispersal works for all.


Help Refugees partners with six projects that provide support to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. We are 80% crowdfunded – so we rely on the generosity of people just like you to do what we do. Please donate today to help us continue supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

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