Skip to main content

Refugee Week 2021

York Refugee Week is one of the most vibrant in the country and this year, due to Covid-19, our events are again going DIGITAL and need all the shares, support and love we can get!

For details see Newsletter 2021-06


Update on the proposed Sovereign Borders Bill 2021

By the time the proposed Sovereign Borders Bill was announced on May 11th in the Queens Speech, 192 refugee, human rights, legal and faith groups had signed a public statement claiming the proposals would not address the major defects of the current asylum system, and that the 6-week consultation had been a sham.

Summary of the draft proposals

  1. A 3-tier system will be set up where people are granted different rights and status, dependent on how they enter the UK.
    Those who are resettled in the UK via a Government approved scheme will have enhanced level of protection. They will be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK on arrival. They will have enhanced family reunion rights.
  2. Those who have arrived by ‘irregular’ means, but are found, on investigation to have the right to be recognised as refugees will be granted the right to stay in the UK for 30 months. They will have no recourse to public funds, and very limited family reunion rights.
  3. Those who have entered the UK irregularly and who seek asylum will have their applications classed as ‘inadmissible’. They will be detained and all attempts will be made to return them to another ‘safe’ third country. If they have also applied elsewhere for asylum, they will be returned to that country.

Those who come into categories 2 and 3 will no longer be housed in properties situated in local communities. They will be placed in specially prepared reception centres, and will be held there during the processing of their claims. Government sources suggest the Australian model, in which asylum seekers are held on offshore islands, is being considered. Currently, former army camps and redundant prisons are being opened up to house asylum seekers.
When a family has been refused asylum, all support including housing, will be withdrawn and they must take steps to leave the UK or face detention and deportation. All current asylum support systems will be revised and access will be greatly restricted.
There will be new restrictions on applications for family reunion, dependent on how a person enters the UK.

Brief response to the proposed 3 tier system

  1. The current Government approved schemes are
    Vulnerable Syrian Families Programme (16,000 came the UK between 2017- 2020) Closed to new families since March 2020.
  2. Community Sponsorship of Syrian families. Closed since March 2020. A bureaucratic process which has been very underused.
  3. Family reunion applications. Long waiting lists and high legal fees to be overcome. Closed since March 2020.
  4. Unaccompanied children. Those under 18 with relatives in the UK can apply to join their families. Closed since March 2020. The Home Office decides whether a person is 18 or not, dependant on ‘how old they look’. (Most children do not have a birth certificate with them when fleeing a war zone.)

In all these approved schemes, the Government has complete control over numbers and decisions on applications. Unlike other UK border controls, all of these approved entry points have been closed since March 2020 ‘due to Covid restrictions’.

York City of Sanctuary

What we do….

York City of Sanctuary works in several ways. As well as seeking to promote an environment of understanding and compassion within the city, we visit institutions and places of education to give talks and lead discussions. We also work with individual refugees or asylum seekers who for whatever reason find themselves in York and are unable to return to their countries of origin. As well as assisting refugees who come to York as part of government schemes, York City of Sanctuary co-ordinates visits to the city by refugees from the environs with the help of an active team of volunteers.

We also run a Facebook page with aims to share relevant local news, views and initiatives. Feel free to have a look and add your own relevant news: