Today I met Souvik who is an asylum seeker involved in both BHN and the’ Lift the Ban’ Campaign. Souvik got involved in the Campaign through BHN. Indeed, at first, he was hosted by BHN but then, he started volunteering with BHN and City of Sanctuary- a charity aiming to create welcoming places of safety for people who fled persecution- and got committed to campaigning to improve the situation of asylum seekers.
Because he experienced seeking asylum in the UK, he noticed how mentally difficult it was not to be allowed to work and to wait long periods for a decision to be taken on his case. After speaking to many professionals in mental health, he decided to follow the Lift the Ban Campaign and campaign to make it possible for all asylum seekers to work after 6 months waiting for a decision on their asylum claim (at the moment most asylum seekers are not allowed to work). Displacement already creates stress and mental health issues but waiting years for a decision about their situation and not being allowed to work, worsens the mental health of asylum seekers further. Souvik also found that often, the seriousness of the mental health concerns are minimised or not understood by authorities.
“If you are a humanitarian person and believe in these causes, and are passionate, the word can spread from Dartmoor, to London, the boroughs of Manchester or the beaches of Cornwall and Aberdeen and even to Belfast.” (Souvik).
To him this campaign is very significant because people need to show their support if they want the government to consider changing the law. As he reminded me, “Lift the Ban does not ask for any right, it asks to give asylum seekers a chance to work, to use their skills and to develop new ones.” Other than the mental and economic benefits that working would have for asylum seekers, Souvik explained than lifting the ban would benefit the government as well because workers would pay taxes in the UK.
Lift the Ban campaign is not the only campaign you can get involved in. Other movements such as Let Us Learn can be found as well. It aims to allow all asylum seekers to go to college and enrol any course.
“What is the worst-case scenario if they apply this to the law? If it helps, why should we not make a new policy?” (Souvik).
So, here is the message of this article: let’s spread the message so that MPs can hear that people support the Lift the Ban campaign. You can find out more about the campaign here http://lifttheban.co.uk/