Politicians, asylum seekers and members of the public will gather on Wednesday 19th June to call on the Government to give asylum seekers the right to work in the UK.

Protests against the ban

This gathering is part of a series of events taking place across the UK throughout June organised by the Lift the Ban campaign – a coalition of close to 200 charities, think tanks, businesses, trade unions and faith groups calling for people seeking asylum to be allowed to work. It also takes place during Refugee Week.

Currently, people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working. They can apply for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over 12 months, but only for jobs on the Government’s Shortage Occupation List, a restrictive list that includes jobs such as classical ballet dancer and nuclear medicine practitioner.

Instead, they are given just £5.39 a day to support themselves while waiting months, often years, for a decision on their claim.  This means that destitution is too often an unavoidable outcome for many people seeking safety in the UK.

BEACON (Bradford Ecumenical Asylum Concern) is using its annual Sponsored Walk to raise awareness of this issue.  Supporters will be walking from Bradford’s Centenary Square to Kirkstall in Leeds, via Phoenix House in Thornbury where many asylum claims are heard.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Doreen Lee, will be seeing the walkers on their way, and they will be greeted by supporters from Leeds on arrival at Kirkstall.

This is the seventh year of BEACON’s Walk, which originally finished at Waterside Court on the Kirkstall Road , the Home Office reporting centre where Asylum Seekers in Bradford used to have to travel to.