In limbo in our fine city

MAP youth workers are supporting young asylum seekers to campaign for a change in the law affecting their right to work in the UK, taking the young people and the issue all the way to Westminster.

‘The idea to campaign on the right to work for asylum seekers came about we ran a training session and debate with young people from Norwich Youth International Project.’ explains MAP youth worker Danny Whitehouse.  ‘It is part of a national Youth Voice project, coordinated by Youth Access, called Make our Rights Reality.   ‘Part of the training involved a debate where we asked young people at the project to come up with their own ideas for laws they would like in the UK.  More than 30 young people, representing over 16 nationalities, unanimously voted that ‘asylum decisions should be made in 6 months’. Although the Home Office says that it aims to make decisions within 6 months, more than half of applicants wait longer than a year .’

The issue was raised at an event at parliament yesterday hosted by the City of Sanctuary network and supported by local MPs Clive Lewis, Norman Lamb and Chloe Smith.  The City of Sanctuary Network supports groups engaged in activities intended to welcome people fleeing violence and persecution and states ‘this forced inactivity is detrimental to individuals’ self-esteem and mental health, increases the difficulty of integration for those who are eventually permitted to stay, and places an entirely unnecessary cost on the public purse”.

Among those speaking at the event was Safian Toheed (pictured above, 2nd from right) who has been ‘in limbo’ since 2011 when he arrived in Norwich seeking sanctuary. Safian has twice been offered jobs in the armed forces as a linguistic terror analyst, but has had to turn down the opportunity because, due to government restrictions, he is prohibited from working.  In his speech Safian said, ‘I am very grateful for the support from local charities that have sponsored me to study at university, but if I have to leave the country, all the help I received from the community will be wasted and I will not have the opportunity to contribute in the society’. He added, ‘I will never forget this favour and in the future I would like to sponsor others who are in the same situation. After finishing my studies, I am hoping to join the British armed forces if I get permission to work.’

For more information about the Right to Work campaign visit: www.lifttheban.co.uk/

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