SWVG is committed to campaigning and advocating on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. Our work goes on throughout the year to raise awareness of the difficulties faced under the current system, contribute to the popular debate and seek to influence policy makers in light of our experiences, and the experiences of the people we work with. You can read about all our current and future campaigns on the main campaigns page. 

On this page you can read about current news and analysis relating to asylum and refugee issues, as well as stories from our members and updates on our projects.

Baila would love to teach, but the government won’t let her

Since claiming asylum at the start of 2018, Baila Chaudhry has done everything she can to get involved in British society.

She has worked in charity shops in Cardiff and Southampton and attended short courses and workshops at universities in both the cities. Now she is about to start studying for further qualifications at City College, Southampton.

But so far, Baila has been unable to do one thing that she does the best, which is to teach. Prior to arriving in the UK at the end of last year, she had taught maths and science in her country for most of her adult life.

As these subjects are two of those where Britain is most short of teachers, you might expect that the government would welcome somebody with 16 years’ classroom experience. But as an asylum seeker waiting for the Home Office to determine her application, Baila is forbidden from doing paid work.

“Teaching is my passion, I am a born teacher” she says. “I’m happy to help anybody, anywhere, and of course I can volunteer, but I want to teach. I checked on the web and it said maths and science are both shortage subjects.”

Baila left her country last December following threats of violence against her and her four daughters, aged 18 to 21. At one point, her former husband suggested selling two of the girls into arranged marriages to pay off his debts.

All four girls are now living outside their country. They are not in the UK with Baila, who is living in National Asylum Support Service accommodation and has been a SWVG client since March.

With her accommodation and some living costs paid for by the government, Baila finds it frustrating that she cannot contribute more to UK society and pay taxes. In addition to a first degree, Baila holds a teacher training diploma and a doctorate in homeopathic medical sciences, all gained in her country.

“How to impart knowledge is something that’s inborn. I have the patience to work with kids and can hold the attention of a class,” she adds. “I would love to utilise my time and energy in a more effective way.”

By Neil Merrick 10/09/2018

Government loses three-quarters of immigration appeals

Data uncovered by The Guardian reveals that 75% of appeals brought by the government against favourable immigration decisions are rejected by judges. This not only causes disruption to the lives of asylum seekers granted leave to remain, but leads to a waste of resources and worse immigration decision making.

Such a high rate of failed appeals suggests the motivation for lodging appeals is less about getting the right answer, and more about making the immigration system hostile for asylum seekers and refugees. In contrast, a significant proportion of appeals brought by asylum seekers are granted.

SWVG works tirelessly to support asylum seekers throughout the process, including those waiting years for appeals. During this time, their lives are put on hold, unsure of what the future will bring and with limited options in the present.


How to Get Refugees into Work Quickly 

Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) along with the think-tank TENT,  has released new resources to help get refugees and asylum seekers into work. This follows our own SWVG campaign working towards a change in the law to allow some asylum seekers to work whilst waiting for a decision, which can sometimes take as long as twenty years.

Getting refugees into work helps improve integration, removes any burden to the State and “when refugees become colleagues and friends, they no longer seem like a threat”. Refugees are hard-working and motivated and with proper assistance and advice, recruiting them can yield a quick return: with appropriate financial support, a business can get payback on their investment in only a year. It is good for society and good for refugees and asylum seekers too. It gives refugees a sense of purpose and the tools for building up a new life in the UK.  

For many refugees, getting into work can be difficult. For asylum seekers in the UK, there is no automatic right to work, and even after twelve months, only a very limited range of jobs are made available. This means the skills and potential of refugees and asylum seekers are neglected, “allowing their skills to rust, depressing their motivation and deterring future employers”.

Best practice includes an efficient asylum process, allowing some asylum seekers a right to work, and early assessment and intervention. Better language skills and training are needed, focusing on workplace needs including on-site training. The use of mobile phone apps can also provide a flexible and useful way of learning a new language. Work programmes need to be tailored to the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers themselves, as well as local labour market shortages. Work placements, internships and apprenticeships are all good ways to develop the skills needed and provide a pathway to secure employment as well as the use of digital and on-line training.

The report specifically mentions the vital work done by charities and groups like SWVG which mentor and assist refugees and asylum seekers getting into work and integrating into society.

The research suggests that more care needs be taken when dispersing refugees and asylum seekers according to local market conditions. It is also vital to tackle discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers with policies that reduced the potential for unfair treatment.

For more information on SWVG’s right to work campaign, check out our main campaign page as well as our Twitter and Facebook posts.

Past Stories and reports