Are you up for the £10 Refugee Week challenge?
Our colleague Liz Griffith thinks she is. Here is her week's shopping.
So, what's the story?
The Red Cross in Northern Ireland has been asking people who are interested in the plight of refugees and asylum seekers to think about taking part in a week long challenge which aims to bring home the harsh realities of destitution.
Red Cross in Northern Ireland supports a significant number of asylum seekers who can often find themselves with no recourse to any financial support or who encounter difficulties accessing their entitlement. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as a failed asylum claim, administrative delays and complexity within the asylum system. Sometimes it is due to the period of transition between benefits, including from asylum seeker to refugee once people have successfully been awarded refugee status.
Destitute asylum seekers and refugees typically rely on the support of friends to survive, friends who are often in difficult financial circumstances themselves. In such situations the Red Cross provides people with £10 for food. They must make this £10 last a week.
Neil McKittrick from the charity’s refugee support service explains;
“There are multiple reasons why people find themselves unable to access support. Red Cross believes that no person should find themselves destitute as a result of the asylum system. On a humanitarian level, they should be entitled to have their most basic needs, for food and shelter, taken care of while they are being processed through the asylum system. We would strongly advocate for an asylum system that provides end-to-end support.”
‘The situation is made worse by the fact that the vast majority of asylum seekers do not have permission to work as they navigate the system, so they are unable to help themselves get out of this situation. They are reliant on a benefits system when many of them have the skills to contribute to the economy in Northern Ireland.”
What do you have to do?
Liz Griffith is a Policy Officer at Law Centre (NI). Part of her work involves highlighting destitution and promoting refugee and asylum rights, and she is passionate about challenging the inequities of the current asylum support system. Although she has seen close up the impact of destitution, she decided to take up the challenge to experience first hand what it means to live on £10 for a week. We wish her all the best. You can follow her progress on twitter @LawCentreNI
Lucky for Liz, the challenge allows her to eat at catered events of Refugee Week. Guess who's going to be out and about rather a lot this week.
What is the Law Centre doing for Refugee Week?
The Law Centre will host a roundtable between Northern Ireland's MPs and representatives of the refugee and asylum communities. This meeting is by invitation only.
We will also have a stall at WelcomeFest, a family friendly concert and celebration at St Anne's Cathedral organised by Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers, British Red Cross and Belfast Friendship Club. Come and join us and make multilingual 'Refugees Welcome' cards.
Catherine Couvert, Communications Officer