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.

LASSN call on Leeds City Council to prevent destitution

At 1.30pm today, Grace Phiri, a trustee of Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network will ask the 99 councillors of Leeds City Council to take action to prevent destitution among asylum seekers in Leeds.

Grace will speak of the struggles of surviving on little over £5 per day and of the even more devastating affects for those in destitution with absolutely nothing to live on.

A recent Children’s Society report highlighted the alarming levels of destitution among refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children and young people, including many in Leeds.

Ten charities in Leeds are therefore calling on the council to write to Home Secretary about the impact of destitution,  to support the recommendations of the Children’s Society report and endorse the aims of the Still Human Still Here, a coalition of 59 charities seeking to end destitution.

Downloads and links:

Full text of Grace’s speech to Leeds City Council: Asylum destitution deputation to Leeds City Council

Briefing paper on destitution in Leeds: Asylum destitution briefing

Children’s Society report on experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants

Still Human Still Here

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.

UKBA – news and briefings for partners

UK Border Agency Yorkshire and the Humber: partnership and engagement update: September-October 2012 UKBA partners update includes policy updates and contact details for UKBA in the region

UK Border Agency Partner News: Bi-monthly update from UK Border Agency with  information on UKBA’s work, recent achievements and forthcoming activities. Current issue and back copies are here:


One World Leeds

One World Leeds Winter 2013

  • Challenging negative perceptions of refugees
  • The new Immigration Bill – tip of the iceberg
  • An asylum seeker is shattered but steadfast
  • A journey into Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
  • English at Home – a formula for integration
  • Inertia in Odyssey (a poem)
  • Sports and leisure

One Planet Leeds summer 2013One Planet Leeds summer 2013

  • Theatre
    • Refugee boy
    • To walk in your shows
  • Football – A shared sense of belonging
  • Media – Mispeceptions
  • Experience – The kindness of strangers
  • Music – United Voices
  • Women – Refugee Group
  • Books – Scar Tissue
  • Volunteering – interpreters needed


One Planet Leeds Spring 2013

  • PAFRAS 10 year anniversary
  • Interview with Isa Turkoglu on the Just Play Football Programme
  • Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Amnesty International and STAR Sleep Out
  • Leeds Kirkgate Market and the Arrival of Leeds Needs
  • What is Your Map Route of Leeds?
  • The Debt Free Project

Winter 2012/13

  • Welfare reform – what does it mean?
  • Volunteering
  • STAR – Student Action for refugees
  • What is the public perception of refugees and asylum seekers in Britain today?
  • A world without refugees – poem
  • The un-forgotten coat – book review
  • Refugees, Capitalism and the British State – book review

The silence surrounding women & violence – Summer 2012

Social security for refugees and Brits under attack – Spring 2012

Legal aid cuts push asylum seekers to the margins – Autumn 2011

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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

Catherine – my new job #7

Two match-ups today! Very satisfying indeed. The first was with a sister and brother-in-law in Beeston who have similar levels of English. Again we spent a lovely 45 minutes drinking tea, eating biscuits (this is becoming a definite perk of the job!) and chatting. The volunteer’s family are from a neighbouring country so there was plenty to talk about and they were so grateful to be starting their English lessons. As asylum seekers they have stressful lives. The sister in particular really struggles with the constant stress and uncertainty of her family’s asylum case as well as bringing up three young children in a new country (with unpredictable weather!). She told me when I first met her that she would really enjoy English lessons because she would have just one thing to focus her mind on for a short time each week. She is such a ‘people person’ and really wants to be able to chat with neighbours, other mums and people at bus stops etc. but is afraid that her English isn’t good enough yet.

Then later on in the day it was off to Harehills for another match-up. I met the volunteer about a mile away, near her house, so it was nice to walk up together and have a good chat. It was quite a contrast to this morning. This family have refugee status and a nice council house with a lovely garden of veg and flowers. They are settled, with the husband working and older kids happy in school.  There was such a different atmosphere here, all the usual stresses of work and young kids and school runs but it felt so much more relaxed than the home this morning. Yet again we had a lovely chat, as well as playing peekaboo with initially shy but very cute children, and also managed to fit in a little teaching, sharing English and Pashto words for the different nuts we were eating. By the time we left the student was really happy to be starting her lessons again, the volunteer was happy that she had got to know the student and her needs a little, and I was happy that they were ready to start. We had a good chat about teaching methods and resources on the walk back. It was a late finish for me and a long wait at the bus stop, all made more than worth it by reflecting on how vital English at Home is to our students and how incredible the commitment of our volunteers is.

Also – met loads of great new volunteers this week.