For the third quarter of this year we’re raising money for ASIRT, a small Birmingham-based charity that helps people in dire need of help due to their immigration status.
We asked Fiona at ASIRT to write about the work they do and how the money you raise will be used.
ASIRT (the Asylum and Immigration Resource Team) work to alleviate destitution caused by immigration issues. Many of our clients have no access to public funds, some are homeless, and where people have support it is minimal. For all of them, the underlying cause of this vulnerability is issues around their immigration status. Our clients often live in poor housing conditions, are without resources, have associated health conditions and are extremely vulnerable.
ASIRT’s specialist immigration advisers work on the core issue of regularising status, while ensuring that clients are accessing the support they are entitled to. Making sure people have a roof over their head and food on the table are primary concerns, particularly for our families. We advocate with schools, landlords, children’s services and other providers, and apply for funding for our clients’ basic needs.
The children we work with are some of the most deprived in the region. Many come from families who have no recourse to public funds and are supported by the local authority. This support gives a minimal payment to parents, and pays for temporary accommodation. Many of these children are entitled to British citizenship but their families are not able to pay the fees, which currently stand at £1,012. Often this means several children sharing a room with their parent(s), and not having access to cooking or washing facilities.
CW is originally from Nigeria — she has three children, two of whom are entitled to British Citizenship. She fled her abusive partner after he attacked one of her twins, but because she has no current immigration status, she cannot work, claim benefits or access hospital care. She and her three children are living in one room of a bed and breakfast. She is only able to use the kitchen at an allocated time, and the washing machine once a week. Unfortunately, the little boy still wets the bed at night, so this is very difficult to manage. The twins cannot access school lunches, and have very little money to spend on school uniforms, let alone luxuries. They have missed most of their schooling during the pandemic due to the fact that they have no internet access.
This family is, sadly, typical of our client group. Many of our children live with mothers fleeing domestic violence and with no recourse to public funds, leaving them destitute or at risk of returning to abusive relationships.
For single people there is not even this safety net, and many of them are sofa-surfing, sleeping on the streets, or in exploitative working situations.
We are currently focused on raising money for our hardship fund, which gives one-off grants to people for essential needs or to bridge a gap in support.
- £45 pays for accommodation for a night before alternative support kicks in.
- £30 covers food and other necessities such as nappies for a family of four over the weekend.
- £30 for the train fare to London to get a new passport.
- £40 – £70 to replace a passport.
- £20 pays for a copy of a birth certificate.
Every penny that is donated to this fund will go straight to our clients to help them either meet their basic needs, or gain the necessary documentation to regularise their immigration status.
You can make a donation with your online pre-order or at the counter at our shop.