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:

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