An Introduction to LASSN

If you’re here, you probably already know something about LASSN. But here’s a quick presentation (written for a presentation at Allerton Deanery Synod) that links what we do to the wider local, national and international context of people seeking refuge and asylum

Isa Muaza is being held in custody despite being on a 90-day hunger strike

I have raised this issue personally with the Home Secretary, and have applied on three occasions for a chance to debate this in Parliament – unsuccessfully each time. I will keep trying.
Lord Roger Roberts, a Liberal Democrat peer, and I have launched an e-petition on the HM Government website urging Theresa May to intervene and release Mr. Muaza from detention. The e-petition is worded as follows:
We are distressed and saddened to hear that Isa Muaza’s appeal to be released from detention was refused by the Court of Appeal on 25 November 2013. 
Isa Muaza’s condition is critical. He has been on hunger strike in Harmondsworth Detention Centre for over 90 days, and is no longer able to see or stand. We are extremely concerned that Mr Muaza will soon die or suffer permanent damage to his health in detention or during a forced removal from the UK. 
We call on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to exercise clemency, release him from detention to receive medical treatment to stabilise his condition prior to any removal, so that another death or serious harm in immigration detention or during the removal process may be avoided.
Please can you add your signature to the e-petition and pass it onto friends and family. It is imperative that as many people as possible sign the petition to raise the public profile of the case and raise the pressure on Theresa May to act before it is too late. The URL link is copied in below.

Leeds City Council resolves to act on destitution

In response to the Deputation to Council on Destitution in the Asylum Seeking Population of Leeds, the City Council Executive Board met on 17 July and RESOLVED:

(a)          That the Chief Executive write to the Home Secretary voicing concerns that the current application of the asylum process is allowing too many people to fall destitute, and that the burden of responsibility needs to be more equally shared between local and national government.

(b)          That the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry be endorsed, and that approval be given to act on the findings that can be achieved by local government

(c)          That relevant policies of the ‘Still Human, Still Here’ campaign to end institutional destitution for asylum seekers, be supported.

Full minutes of the Executive Board are here (see item 45):

Daily Fail exposed – 12 myths about asylum seekers

Unity in the Community say:

Daily Fail

The papers say Britain is under siege from asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers are blamed for higher taxes, crime, rising
house prices, hospital waiting lists, cheap labour, terrorism and AIDS. Mainstream politicians either agree or refuse to challenge these stories. There are two possible reasons for this press campaign. Only one of them can be true. The first is that fake refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe really are responsible for most of Britain’s problems. Many people believe asylum seekers are one of our society’s biggest problems. No wonder. The scare stories printed every day in the Sun, Express, Star and Mail are hardly ever challenged in the press or in parliament. That’s why we’ve set out some facts that might make you see things differently. We think they show that asylum seekers are not causing these problems, but that asylum seekers are being used as scapegoats.Asylum seekers are blamed for higher taxes, crime, rising house prices, hospital waiting lists, cheap labour,

It’s the oldest trick in the book. Blame the other fella. Divide and rule. We

produced this leaflet because we’re fed up too. Fed up with services that get worse instead of better  Fed up with council tax hikes and impossible house prices. Fed up with schools and hospitals being run down and sold off piecemeal. Fed up with low pay and crime.

Above all, we’re fed up being lied to about why this is happening.

Royal College of GPs – asylum seekers have right to NHS

Royal College of GPs – “all vulnerable migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, have the right to be fully registered with a NHS general practice.” It also noted that GPs “have the discretion to register refused asylum seekers, to the same extent that they have this discretion to registering any patient, irrespective of residency status – unless the list is full or the person resides outside the practice boundary.”

See full report here:


A bill proposing that gay and lesbian Ugandans be executed is coming back to Uganda’s Parliament – it could pass at any
moment. Worse yet, rumours are suggesting that the bill has been changed in committee and we may not have a chance to see it before it is rushed through.

President Museveni once promised that he would not sign this bill into law. With pressure mounting on him to support the bill, only a massive global outcry – along with our friends in Uganda – will make him keep his promise.

Last year, we helped stop this bill in its tracks. We need to do it again.  Sign the petition here.

Leveson inquiry report – concerns over the reporting of ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers

A few quotes from the report published today:

“When assessed as a whole, the evidence of discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers, is concerning.”

“[The conclusion that] Muslims, migrants, asylum seekers and gypsies/travellers … targets of press hostility and/or xenophobia in the press, was supported by the evidence seen by the Inquiry.”

“…some newspapers expressed a consistently clear view on the harm caused by migrants and/or asylum seekers (often conflating the two) and ensured that any coverage of the issue fit within that narrative.”

“It is important to reiterate that the evidence was not all bad: there were many examples of titles with responsible and positive reporting on these issues, and even within the section of the press identified for criticism, there was evidence showing a complicated picture.”

Judge for yourself by reading the section on ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers here

Refugees, capitalism and the British State – what should we do?

Tom Vickers, Senior Research Assistant at Northumbria University, will speak about his new book, ‘Refugees, Capitalism and the British State: Implications for social workers, volunteers and activists’ (Ashgate: 2012).

Peter Richardson, Director of Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network (LASSN) will give a brief overview of the situation in Leeds.

The focus of Tom’s book is twofold: to analyse the material basis of refugees’ oppression in the imperialist character of modern British capitalism; and to examine the means by which the British state has ‘managed’ this oppression through the cultivation of a ‘refugee relations industry’. The author addresses these questions using a Marxist analysis, drawing on original research in Newcastle upon Tyne. Regular updates and commentary by the author can be found at

Weds, 14th November, 6pm, AG10 Broadcasting Place, Leeds Metropolitan University, Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9EN (opposite the Fenton pub).

This event is co-sponsored by Leeds Asylum Seekers Network (LASSN)


All welcome, no need to book.

The event is free, but there will be a collection.

For further details email:

Great sources of information to help asylum seekers

Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association On this page you will find the most recent Update and most recent Information Sheets provided by ILPA’s Information Service.  The Service provides information of interest in immigration, asylum and nationality law, policy and practice, and is designed for non-lawyers (although many lawyers also use the information).  Updates set out on one page a very short note of recent developments.  Information Sheets set out on two pages some more detailed information on a specific issue.

Asylum Support Appeals Project – fact-sheets covering topics such as Section 95, Section 4, and pregnant asylum seekers

Refugees, Capitalism and the British State: Implications for social workers, volunteers and activists

I’ve been sent a review copy of Tom Vickers book. It’s an academic book and therefore expensively out of the reach of most readers . I’m hoping that by reviewing it I’ll be able to pull out some of the lessons we need to hear as activists and volunteers.

I must admit I started by glancing at the contents and then jumping to the conclusions. I’m an activist rather than an academic so I wanted to know what the implications were and what I needed to do about them.

My first thought was that perhaps  I needed to read the rest of the book. There’s a comment about refugees’ experience of volunteering and how this hasn’t always resulted in beneficial outcomes. Tom also highlights the impact of meeting immediate needs and how this predicates against working on long-term changes. We certainly see that in our work with Leeds Refugee Forum, understandably it is difficult to be concerned about policy and strategy when you don’t know where you are going to sleep.

Tom goes on to suggest that we (refugee support agencies/practitioners) need to help connect refugee causes with other oppressed groups to decrease isolation and increase available resources. I’d also say that this could help to reduce prejudice against asylum seekers.

I’ll get back to the reading the book more fully another day, but already I’m thinking about how we work and whether we are helping asylum seekers and refugees to change the world or simply to cope with being oppressed.

Peter Richardson, Director, LASSN