Manchester becomes the 11th Council to recognise plight of people forced into poverty after fleeing persecution

Manchester Council has voted in favour of a motion recognising the plight of people who have come to the UK to seek safety, only to find themselves forced into poverty and homelessness.

“Destitution is a huge problem amongst asylum seekers, one that allows them to be pushed to the margins of society, left waiting sometimes for years for the outcome of their asylum claim and unable to seek employment or establish a home” said Labour Cllr Suzanne Richards, who seconded the motion. “It is fundamentally wrong to tell someone who has come to this country seeking asylum from persecution that they are not entitled to participate in our society,” she said, adding “We need change at a national level.”

Councillors raised concerns about the effects of poverty and homelessness on the wellbeing and dignity of people who have come here to seek safety and had their cases refused. Alimatu, an asylum seeker whose story was heard by Councillors said: “destitution makes me feel bad, my life is useless”. Almost half of those recently surveyed by the British Red Cross and the Boaz Trust, had been destitute  for at least two years, and shockingly, approximately one in ten had been destitute for 10 years or more.

Cllr Bev Craig, who proposed the Motion, said: “The purpose of the motion was to show our solidarity and re-state our support for asylum seekers and refugees in Manchester and across the region. I hope that this motion will further raise awareness of the plight of LGBT asylum seekers and asylum seekers more generally and encourage other bodies to do the same. Finally it was a call to action for central government to implement a fair and humane process that supports the most vulnerable in our society.”

Manchester will now back the Still Human, Still Here campaign calling for people seeking asylum who would otherwise be destitute to be provided with sufficient support so that they can meet their essential living needs; given free access to healthcare; and permission to work to support themselves if their case hasn’t been resolved within six months.

Manchester is the eleventh council to pass a motion against destitution following in the footsteps of Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Kirklees, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Swansea.

The wording of the motion can be read here: 14-3-26-manchester-council-motion-on-destitution-26-3-14

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