Dear Schools of Sanctuary Supporters,
You may have heard about the government’s New Plan for Immigration which risks threatening the safety and right to sanctuary of many of those who come to the UK. Essentially it means that only routes to the UK through extremely narrow resettlement plans will be admissible, with those arriving by other routes being placed into reception centres and undergoing fast-track procedures meaning that they will be more easily removed from the country.
The Impact on Children who are Seeking Sanctuary
For children, this plan makes it harder for unaccompanied minors in Europe to reunite with family in the UK and for those arriving by routes other than resettlement to obtain the right to remain. There are also serious concerns that some of the proposals about age assessment will increase the likelihood of children being wrongly identified as adults and placed in accommodation with adults or held in adult detention centres. Finally, proposals to remove Section 95 support for those who have been refused asylum are likely to increase rates of destitution, including amongst families with children.
The government has set up a six-week consultation period which ends on the 6th May, which is half the length of time government guidelines say consultations should last.
We strongly urge all those who have children who are seeking asylum in their school and/or everyone who is a supporter of sanctuary to respond to the consultation process, either as an individual or organisation, and we have tried to provide information to make this as simple as possible for you.
The Steps to Take:
- Set up a profile to respond to the consultation: You can register as an individual or an organisation (such as a school). The questions vary slightly for individuals and organisations.
- Navigate the online platform: There are ten sections, with several questions per section. You do not need to respond to all the questions – some are leading or do not offer an opportunity to respond meaningfully.
- If you are completing this consultation as an organisation you can use our partner organisations, Asylum Matters guide to help answer the survey – they outline what their answer is (highlighted in yellow throughout the document). Alternatively the guide also offers other sources information to help you learn more and prepare your response.
- If you are completing this consultation as an individual, there are two separate questionnaires and the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network have shared two pdf documents that take you through it question by question to help you respond (Main Questionnaire and Additional Questionnaire).
- You do not receive a confirmation of response, so we recommend you also follow up by emailing your local MP, telling them you have submitted your response and express your concerns. Some key questions to raise include:
- The consultation is being run by Britain Thinks on behalf of the government and people can email them at [email protected] if they wish to comment or complain, however this is not made very clear in the consultation document itself. Why is this?
- Will there be a difference in weighting between individual responses and responses from organisations?
- Why do those who send comments not receive an acknowledgement?
- Why is the document only in English and Welsh and not in other languages spoken by the communities most affected?
- Government guidelines for consultations say they should last for 12 weeks. Why is this one only being run for 6 weeks?
- Government guidelines for consultations state: Consultation responses should be analysed carefully and clear feedback should be provided to participants following the consultation – How will this be possible when the government is proposing to announce their plans in the Queen’s Speech, only four days after the closing date of the consultation?
We hope this proves useful to you to provide your own response and we thank you for continuing to support sanctuary for all those fleeing conflict, persecution and danger.
The Schools of Sanctuary UK Team