Leeds feeling strain of 0.03% increase in population

It’s great to see Leeds talking seriously about how it can support people fleeing violence and forced to leave their homes and countries. The council task force has come up with a “compassionate” plan to offer 200 Syrians a home. (See http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/leeds-offers-home-to-200-refugees-1-7462798) But is it really enough when there are over 4,000,000 Syrian refugees? And is the task force right when it judges …

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We’re the same

We’re the same you and me.

You leave Homs – I leave home.

We both get caught in a queue.

It’s the M1 that brings me to a halt.

My air-conditioning drowning the DJ.

I’m snarled, and angry, fighting for a lane.

For you it’s the border that brings you to a stop.

Armed guards shouting and pointing you back.

You’re starved, and scared, fighting for a life.


We’re the same you and me.

You flee to save your life.

I live on what I’ve saved.

You’re a migrant escaping the pain.

I’m an ex-pat avoiding the rain.

You take nothing – everything left behind.

I bring essentials – tea, marmite, marmalade.


We’re the same you and me.

But I’m worth more – I have so much.

So I’m building a wall to keep me safe.

Around my house securing my place.

A border to keep you out.

Surrounding my country.

Surrounding my wealth.

We’re the same you and me.

But I’m worth more

so you keep out.


If you are rich and attractive to others, you also have to be strong because if not, they will take away what you have worked for and you will be poor, too.
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán. Guardian, 5 September 2015

Alternatively, here are 6 things you can do to help refugees if you live in Leeds.

The right to legal representation

Manuel Bravo Project – Legal assistance for people seeking asylum The Manuel Bravo Project is a volunteer-based service which offers legal assistance to unrepresented asylum seekers. We offers free legal advice to asylum seekers who wish to appeal against a negative first decision or submit a fresh claim for asylum and who cannot obtain legal aid. The project employs seven …

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Home Office policy on asylum support is unlawful

Asylum seekers are given so little in benefit that they cannot meet their essential living needs and the High Court has ordered the Secretary of State to rethink the decision not to increase support rates. Refugee Action’s research found that almost 40% of asylum seekers waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim, do not have enough money to buy adequate food …

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Profile on Syria

The Syrian civil war has descended into a humanitarian crisis.  For most of the past three years more than 100 children have died each week.  More than 50% of the country’s population are now reliant on aid from foreign governments.  Lebanon population shows the number of people that have been displaced by the war.  It is now the biggest refugee …

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ReachOUT Leeds

ReachOUT is a Leeds-based support and advocacy charity for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. As February saw the country celebrate LGBT History Month, we talked with Jess MacIntyre, who founded the group in 2012,  about the work that ReachOUT does in Leeds. What made you found ReachOUT Leeds? I had worked in refugee services for about 5 …

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Politicians scared of toxic immigration debate

  Political attitudes to immigration can be toxic. Cases like the Minister of State for Immigration going on national television to tell an Iraqi asylum seeker to leave the UK; the Home Office’s controversial ‘Go Home’ vans which spent a week parading the streets of London; gay and lesbian people told they had to “prove” their sexuality. Even as the …

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Damning report on G4S and Serco ignored in bid to vilify asylum seekers

  Today the National Audit Office published a report about the Compass Contract for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers. The Home Office press release highlighted how G4S and Serco struggled to get contracts up and running, which resulted in poor performance, delays and additional costs for the Home Office. The 8-page executive summary concludes by mentioning: Unresolved issues one year on The challenge …

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Leeds No Borders Celebrates International Migrant Day

The United Nations adopted the ‘International Convention onthe Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of TheirFamilies’ on the 18th December 1990. To celebrate the 10th anniversary in 2000 the General Assembly declared the 18th December International Migrant Day. This year’s message from Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, was to: “…make migration work for the benefit …

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