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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Refugee week 2008

In the tabloid headlines, you will often see the words 'asylum seeker' and 'refugee' coupled with 'terror' and any other negative connotation you can think of. It's easy to forget that these are people from all walks of life who have travelled huge distances to escape persecution and to seek asylum.

Asylum seekers give up everything they have to escape atrocities that most of us can't imagine. What I find impossible to comprehend is how they are treated when they arrive in the UK.

So here's the asylum seeker challenge:

1 You are given £35 in vouchers every week for food and toiletries
2 These are ASDA vouchers, so you must first walk to your nearest ASDA
3 You must spend your £35 allowance in one go
4 When you present your voucher at the checkout counter you may be regarded as scum
5 You will not receive change
6 You walk back to where you are staying because ASDA vouchers won't cover your bus fare

Repeat for up to two years while the Home Office makes a decision on your case. During this time you are not permitted to work.

The Migrants Resource Centre puts out an annual newspaper called The New Londoners to counteract the negative connotations associated with asylum seekers and refugees in the media.
Download it here

And in case you missed this excellent piece by Mark Haddon in last Sunday's Observer Magazine here

Yes - it all sounds very worthy/serious/boring, but there are some amazing highly-skilled people amongst us who are being forced to live like vagrants because of government policy and it's time we got clued up on it and stop pretending like it's not happening.

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