news from gcp
70th anniversary of the un refugee convention - a statement from Traci Kirkland, our head of charity
The UN Refugee Convention placed the rights of refugees under international law. All of the 149 countries who signed up made a legal commitment to protect people fleeing war and persecution in other countries.
The UK’s commitment to this convention has seen us play an extremely important role in saving lives and welcoming diversity into our communities. Scotland have benefited greatly from welcoming people seeking sanctuary to call Scotland their new home. This is something that the UK should be proud of. Recent polls have shown that almost 75% of Scots want to continue to welcome New Scots.
Sadly, the UK’s proposed UK Nationality and Borders Bill places all that under serious threat. It shifts the focus away from the traumatic and inhumane experiences individuals have fled, and focusses on judging people on the route and means by which they arrived in the UK. Therefore, it creates an unfair 2-tier system and potentially penalises those who have arrived seeking our protection. This bill directly contradicts the Convention:
“The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules. Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or criminal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum.”
GCP and our colleagues in the sector stand #TogetherWithRefugees. We oppose this inhumane bill and would urge everyone to support our refugee and asylum community members by writing to their MPs asking them to reject this bill and lobby for positive change.
The recent event in Kenmure Street in Glasgow demonstrated that this is not how Scottish people want our friends and neighbours to be treated and that refugees are always welcome here in Scotland. Let's stand together to oppose this bill and campaign for the rights of refugees, and value and celebrate the rich, diverse nation we have become.
Getting involved with campaigns and activism is a big part of what we do at GCP. Check out some of the campaigns, joint letters and petitions we've signed recently:
Sounds of gcp - Refugee festival scotland 2021
We were proud to be part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2021. To mark the festival, our community members hit the airwaves with a two-hour show of music and chat, broadcast on Clyde Built Radio and Sunny Govan. The show was created, recorded and produced by people seeking sanctuary in Glasgow. Sounds of GCP offered refugees and people seeking asylum a platform to share their stories, opinions and favourite music, and the opportunity to develop valuable radio production skills.
If you missed it, don't worry - you can listen again here.
SOVEREIGN BORDERS BILL MARCH 2021 - RESPONSE
We at GCP are extremely disheartened, frustrated and concerned about the Home Secretary’s new proposals for the UK asylum system. The proposals being put forward create a 2-tier system which creates a further inequity in an already divisive and inhumane system. This will further marginalise individuals seeking refuge.
We have released a full statement. Please read it below.
LEADERS 2021 EVENT
In early 2021, we hosted an event about the inclusion of experiences in refugee activism and policy-making in Glasgow and beyond. We were joined by a fantastic panel: Solomon Adebayo and Graham O'Neill (Refugees Ending Destitution project), Pinar Aksu (Maryhill Integration Network), Yvonne Blake (Migrants Organising for Rights & Entitlements), Nico Ndvolu, and Mehdi Saki (Glasgow Night Shelter) who spoke about their work and what more needs to be done to lead with Voices of Experience.
If you missed the event, you can view a summary of the discussion and the main takeaways below.
INTEGRATION NETWORK JOINT LETTER
Following the sad loss of a young man's life in hotel accommodation in Glasgow, GCP and our colleagues from other Integration Networks in the City have jointly written to the Secretary of State asking for an urgent investigation into the decisions taken to move asylum community members into hotel accommodation during the Covid-19 lockdown. View the full letter below.
An Ongoing Emergency: Barriers and solutions in access to fair food for people seeking asylum
Our Food For All participatory action research group (PAR) have recently launched their report into food insecurity experienced by people seeking asylum in the UK. The report also explores and assesses the current provision of support in Glasgow in addressing this issue. This research project was commissioned by the Scottish Government Tackling Food Insecurity Team.
The project brought various stakeholders into discussion and looked to elevate the voices of people with lived experience of the issues in focus. The research employed a coproduction methodology.
Read the report here.
Together with refugees
The UK government is planning to introduce new rules for how we treat refugees. The plans are an attack on people seeking safety and they undermine our obligations under international law.
GCP is proud to be part of Together With Refugees - a coalition of organisations and individuals calling for a more humane approach to people seeking protection in the UK.
We are proud to be part of the Freedom To Crawl campaign, a coalition of asylum and family support organisations. Together, we are campaigning for the closure of the Mears-run mother and baby unit for expectant and new mothers who are seeking asylum.
In January 2021, more than 20 asylum seeking women and their babies were moved out of settled accommodation into the mother and baby unit in Glasgow. They are living in cramped bedsits: confined to a small room, with the cot just steps away from the cooker and a window that barely opens.
If, like us, you believe that all babies should have the #FreedomToCrawl and all mothers should have dignity in housing, take action here. Get your voice heard using their templates to write to your MP and MSPs.
Five Duncan Lewis clients challenge the consultation on the Home Office’s new plan for immigration
On 28th May 2021, Duncan Lewis Solicitors issued a judicial review proceeding on behald of five clients who stand to be affected by the Home Office's New Plan for Immigration. The Claimants are challenging the lawfulness of the Secretary of State for the Home Department's (SSHD) consultation on the New Plan for Immigration which ran from 24th March to 6th May 2021. Read more here.
RESPONSE TO THE NEW PLAN FOR IMMIGRATION
We at GCP have been extremely disheartened, frustrated and concerned about the new proposed plan for immigration put forward by the Home Secretary. The online consultation is in our view shambolic, tokenistic and unmeaningful. It is clearly constructed in a way which does not allow for responses to completely oppose the suggested measures in plans, has been timed in a way to exclude devolved nations from responding due the elections, and no consultation has taken place with those with lived experience of the UK immigration system. We have emailed our response as the online form did not allow space for us to include some of the comments from individuals with lived experience. We will be working with all of our colleagues and partners across the asylum sector and Scottish MPs to oppose the proposals and campaign for change which is inclusive and supportive, not divisive and inhumane.
Read our full response below.
ENDING DESTITUTION TOGETHER
We commend the Scottish Government and COSLA for acknowledging the importance of engaging with Experts by Experience in creating the new strategy to support migrants facing destitution. Along with the Scottish Refugee and funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, we are proud to have contributed to the development of the Ending Destitution Together strategy.
Read the full report here and read our summary of the strategy below.
GCP is part of the Roof Coalition - a coalition of charities, lawyers and grassroots organisations upholding the housing rights of people seeking asylum in Scotland and beyond. To keep up to date with campaigning, follow Roof Coalition on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.