Cardiff campaigners are trying to help asylum seekers to survive in this country

A charity in Cardiff is planning to fight against the government’s regulations which are destroying the refugees’ human rights.

Asylum seekers’ rights to work and receiving education have been ignored by the UK government, according to a campaigner in Cardiff.

There was a meeting which held by Young Socialists in The Little Man Coffee Company on Bridge Street, which aimed to discuss the issues of the refugee rights crisis, including asylum seekers’ guarantee to earn British minimum wage of15 per hour.

Through the meeting, there were 3 main issues which were mentioned by campaigners, including the UK detention centres, asylum seekers’ working rights, and access to education.

“The UK is the only country in Europe that locks people up indefinitely,” says Bethan Roper, the chairman of Young Socialists Cardiff, who has worked for this charity for five years.

Bethan Roper is giving the speech to the Refugee Rights meeting in The Little Man Coffee.

“Detention centres are basically prisons for migrants,” says Roper. “In 2017, 28 000 people were placed in the detention centre in the UK. Sometimes for days, some for weeks, some for years and some with no end in sight… When they go into the detention centre, they don’t know when they will leave.”

Mental health issues are easily generated in the detention centres. Roper gave an example of a family: “There is a girl, I call her Lucy, she came to the UK as a child with her mom and her brother. When I met her she was about 19 years old and she has developed pretty bad mental health. She tried to kill herself for a few times,” says Roper.

Refugee rights to work and receiving a fair wage are often ignored in detention centres. Roper says, “Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK. They were forced to work in detention centres for1 an hour.”

According to the regulation of UK, the asylum seekers are not allowed to work in Britain except making an application for work permits. However, only jobs which are on the United Kingdom Occupation Shortage list (including engineers, programmers and paediatricians)  will be accepted, leaving many people without an income.

The waiting period for permission can be as high as 12 months, this is the longest time for any European countries. The next longest is France and Luxembourg with waiting period 9 months, the shortest period in Europe is Italy with only 2 months.

The Young Socialists claim that the minimum wage they are fighting for is not a large amount of money. “Even being paid the minimum wage in this country is not usually enough to live on liver satisfactory life,” says Roper.

£15 an hour would be nearly double than the minimum wage for the average British citizen aged 25 or higher, being implemented in April 2018.

Another important issue being fought for is the access to education. However, if an asylum seeker wants to study in the UK, their prospects look bleak.

“Asylum seekers, of course, they are not allowed to learn and if they want to go to university, they have to pay the international fee which would be difficult for a British person to pay,” says Beth. University costs for international students range between £10 000 to £38 000 annually which is up to 7 times as high as the British fee £9250 per year.

Therefore, the campaigners want to help asylum seekers have not only the right to education but affordable education. This could include access to student loans.

One of the goals of this meeting was encouraging more students to engage in refugee rights activism, by fighting for asylum seekers and joining socialists groups.

Theo Sharieff, The national chair of Social Students Youth and student organiser for the Socialist Party

The national chair of Socialist Students Youth and student organiser for the Socialist Party, Theo Sharieff, says, “We in the Socialist Party stand for fighting for socialism, anti-racism and internalism. We need to fight for where the rights of all immigrants, workers and refugees.”

In order to raise money for the asylum seekers, the Young Socialists Cardiff will organize the ‘Benefit GIG & Art Auction‘ on the 10 of February 2018 from 6 pm to 11 pm in the Cathays Community Centre (CF24 4HX).