Our North East Campaign Archive

This archive relates to our campaign actions during 2009-2010

House of Lords: In December, Lord Morris of Handsworth hosted a reception in the House of Lords on the work campaign, with speakers from Refugee Council, the TUC, the Confederation of British Industry and Regional Refugee Forum North East (Samouka Dore, leader of our RRF Right to Work campaign group)

International Human Rights Day Newcastle, December 10th: 3 of our campaign members spoke about the campaign at the regional event ‘Sanctuary and Welcome in the North East - a regional tradition in the 21st century: A celebration of the North East’s values’, organised jointly by RRF, North East Strategic Migration Partnership and North of England Refugee Service. RRF members Samaouka Dore, Lusi Manukyan and Gaby Kitoko shared a platform with Dari Taylor MP, The Bishop of Newcastle, the Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, the Editor of the Evening Gazette, and the CEO of the Tyne & Wear Community Foundation, all speaking to a specially invited audience of the region’s political leadership and media. Our members gave tribute to the support received from the region’s Trade Union members and faith and student communities and affirmed how respect for human rights and social justice, the spirit of voluntarism, and faith are all values shared and demonstrated by the asylum and refugee community themselves. The event aimed to set the agenda for political dialogue and media reporting in the lead up to the 2010 General Election. “The Bishop hits out at how we treat Asylum Seekers”

The North East marks ‘World Day for Decent Work’
October 7th organised jointly by RRF, Northern TUC and The Churches’ Regional Commission. Members of our Right to Work Campaign group, our Skilled Project, and our Youth Voice spoke up about the impact of the Government’s policy and an update on our region’s ‘Let Us Work’ campaign. Our 2nd campaign DVD made by RRF member Elvis Katoto was screened. Paul Southgate, Chief Officer of the Churches’ Regional Commission said “I want to assure you we are on board with this campaign. We support change in this policy and will foster this debate in the North East. This campaign is a truer representation of North East values, of British values than the policy being implemented by the establishment. It’s a policy that thrives in darkness and in ignorance. This is being done in our name. It is not acceptable. We will stand with asylum seekers as they struggle with this system. Bishop Wharton will represent us in the House of Lords”. Jonathan Ellis, Director of Policy & Development at the Refugee Council said “I have to pay credit to what’s happening here in the North East. It’s an example for the rest of the country, with the excellent Regional Refugee Forum working with partners at the TUC. It gives a sterling model. Its not happening in the rest of the country. When I leave the North East this evening, I will take the message back with me that what’s happening in the North East should be replicated in the rest of the country”

Award for our campaign leader, Samouka Dore October 2nd At the annual ‘Celebrating Diversity Awards North East’ dinner attended by several of Teesside’s Mayors and dignitaries, Samouka was honored for his courage and dedication in leading our region’s campaign to restore the right to work for asylum seekers. Samouka was presented with the ILWP Volunteering Award, which is awarded to an individual who has dedicated his or her time to helping/supporting others, or taken the necessary steps to enrich their lives voluntarily within the BME, Refugee and New communities.

TUC Congress September: Our campaign leader Samouka Dore joined the Refugee Council campaigns team and other refugees and asylum seekers to speak at a rally at the Annual TUC Conference 2009, held in Liverpool, to raise trade union support for the Let Us Work campaign

National Research report “I hate being idle”: Wasted skills and enforced dependence among Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK July 2009

This report presents the findings of a research project conducted by the Refugee Council and the Zimbabwe Association. The research investigated the experiences of Zimbabwean asylum seekers living in the UK, and explored:

  • the education, skills and work experience of Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK;
  • the ways in which people were supporting themselves;
  • the impact of living in the UK on people’s skills;whether Zimbabweans want to return home when it is safe to do so;
  • the resources people would have available on return, and the skills they would have to aid reconstruction.

Lobbying North East MPs: Our campaign group lobbied Chris Mullin, MP Sunderland South, Bill Etherington MP Sunderland North, and Jim Cousins MP, Newcastle Central who all agreed to sign the Parliamentary Early Day Motion No. 960.The motion stated that ‘This House welcomes the Let Them Work campaign to allow asylum seekers permission to work while they are waiting for a decision about their claim; notes with concern that asylum seekers who fled persecution in their own countries are among the most vulnerable people in the UK and are being denied the opportunity to work to support themselves and their families, to pay taxes, and to contribute to the economy; is additionally concerned about the situation of those asylum seekers without status who are unable to return home, many of whom spend years in limbo and are reliant on charity hand-outs or forced into illegal work just to survive; is alarmed that this leaves already vulnerable people open to destitution and exploitation; and therefore calls on the Government to allow asylum seekers to work if they have been waiting longer than six months for a full resolution on their asylum claim and to ensure that permission to work remains for people whose claim for asylum is refused, but who are unable to return home immediately through no fault of their own’ The motion was signed by more than 105 MPs nationally, attracting cross party support from Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Linking the right to work with community cohesion: July. At a meeting in Sunderland attended by the Communities Minister, Shahid Malik MP, our campaign leader Samouka Dore spoke about the negative impact on the Minister’s Community Cohesion agenda of the immigration policy excluding asylum seekers from the workplace, and of young people from higher education. It is recognized that relationships are formed in the work place, and that people contribute to and are active in the community through work. The Minister agreed to take this up in talks with the Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas MP. The theme was taken up at the Labour Party Conference in September in a special debate “Is asylum policy damaging community cohesion?” organised by the Refugee Council at which Shahid Malik spoke

Presentation to the 2009 TUC Black Wokers Conference, 25th April Scarborough. Several of our campaign group members made presentations at the conference, and received pledges of support for the campaign

Presentations to Union branch, Trades Council, and Student Union meetings
: throughout the year our campaign group members spoke up to raise awareness about the existence of the policy, its impact and how it worked against regional interest and human rights.


Campaign training: December & January Our. campaign group was given training on campaigning from members of the Refugee Council’s Campaigns team, and their Head of Campaigns was a guest at our AGM.

BBC Politics Show. October. Our campaign group worked with BBC North East to produce a 3 minute film for the Politics Show on the campaign. The film, featuring 2 of our members Agrin and Gabriel, was broadcast on 16th October

Campaign group informs research by Centre for Social Justice: October. Our members met with the Chairman of the Asylum Working Group of the Centre for Social Justice to contribute to its report on asylum policy (published 15th December)

Regional Campaign Launch event. October, Newcastle. We teamed up with our new partner the Northern TUC to organise the campaign launch on the World Day for Decent Work. Members of our campaign group gave presentations, alongside the Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, to an audience of trade unionists and supporters. Our film of members’ testimonies, made by Elvis Katoto, was screeened.

Our campaign group leader attends annual conferences: September. Samouka Dore attended the TUC Conference in Brighton and the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, as well as taking part in the TUC Organising Academy

We set up the regional campaign group: June. Our member Samouka Dore takes up the initiative to develop a North East regional campaign group after the national campaign is launched by the Refugee Council and TUC on April 18th. Our campaign group began to collect testimoniess from across our membership and started to collect hundreds of signatures for the petition