People who come to the UK in order to claim asylum will have been forced to take the difficult decision to leave their homes because of the violence and persecution they faced. Many will have made long and arduous journeys involving great personal risk because there was no other alternative available to them. Some will have left families and communities behind with an assurance that they will be reunited once they have reached safety or will have been separated on their journey.
Unfortunately, on arriving in the UK that challenging journey continues. The asylum system can be incredibly complex and is a confusing process through which many have to navigate. A decision may not come for many months or years, during which time days are spent simply waiting and managing on the small amount of support available. For those whose claims are initially refused, the process of appeals adds further time, further stress and anguish, before finally securing the protection so desperately needed.
Currently the landscape is particularly bleak. Many of those who arrive presently will be detained for processing before being released to hotel accommodation where they are expected to survive on £8 a week. Months may be spent in this hotel accommodation or you may be transferred to Napier Barracks, a disused ministry of defence site, before again being dispersed to more permanent accommodation. Each transfer is an upheaval of the support networks that may have been built in that time that are lost overnight and have to be started from scratch the next day.
In the face of hostility, those JRS accompany – in immigration detention, asylum seekers in Napier barracks and destitute asylum seekers in London – show great resilience. Alongside this resilience it is important that we as JRS UK, as a wider community and society show our solidarity to those who have come to the UK in search of safety.
JRS UK is part of Together With Refugees, a coalition campaign of more than 100 national, local, refugee-led and grassroots calling for a show of compassion to those fleeing war, persecution or violence. As a coalition, we state:
“How we treat refugees is about who we are. At our best, we are welcoming and kind to those facing difficult times. If any one of us feared for our lives or for our loved ones, we’d want to know that others would help us to safety. Together, we are calling for a better approach to supporting refugees that is more effective, fair and humane. This means standing up for people’s ability to seek safety in the UK no matter how they came here and ensuring people can live in dignity while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. It means empowering refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to our communities. And it means the UK working with other countries to do our bit to help people who are forced to flee their homes. Be a part of our shared movement for change.”
Find out more about our work as part of the Together With Refugees coalition and how you can support the various actions taken to stand #TogetherWithRefugees.
Inspired by the refugee nation flag, and the colours of a lifebelt, the orange heart symbolises hope and compassion. With the campaign slogan #WhoWeAre, the heart is intended to be adopted widely to show support for refugees while underpinning a sense of unity. They represent that together, as a movement, we are larger than the sum of our parts.
As we approach Christmas and New Year, a time when we usually remember family and friends, we ask that you join us in standing beside all those JRS UK accompanies. Join JRS UK by writing a “Message of Solidarity” onto an Orange Heart and show your solidarity with those who are seeking asylum and protection in the UK.
- You can make your own orange heart using paper/card or download and print this template.
- Once you have written your message, you can post a picture of your heart on social media to help us raise awareness and invite others to take part. Do tag JRS UK and include the #TogetherWithRefugees on your posts.
- You can either display your orange heart somewhere for people to see, say in the window of your home or As part of a coordinated display in your school, church or community, or you can post them to us at JRS UK where we will combine them into a display at our centre where we welcome our refugee friends.
- Post to: Jesuit Refugee Service UK, Hurtado Jesuit Centre, 2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT
- Contact Nick with any queries: firstname.lastname@example.org