Red Cross launches Facebook poll campaign to end destitution

By staff writers
June 16, 2010

The British Red Cross have launched a social media online poll campaign to highlight destitution among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

The “Look Beyond the Label” campaign urges people to call for an end to destitution among asylum seekers in the UK, by registering a vote on the charity’s webpage;

The campaign is fronted by an interactive viral video featuring Hollywood stars Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Desperate Housewives and new ITV1 series, Father & Son); Karen David (Waterloo Road, Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior, upcoming BBC series Game Over and singer whose new single, Hypnotize, is doing well on the charts) and stand-up comedian Stephen K Amos whose new show starts on BBC 2 this summer.

Karen said: “As an actress and musician I am constantly aware of the world around me as I draw inspiration from my experiences. It pains me that in this day, in our country there are thousands of people seeking refuge in the free world, yet denied proper housing, healthcare, food and employment.”

The launch of the British Red Cross initiative comes as part of this year’s Refugee Week (14 – 20 June). The Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events celebrating the contribution of refugees in the UK, and encouraging a better understanding between communities.

Margaret O'Donnell, British Red Cross head of digital media, said: “Our campaign seeks to harness the power of social networks and address real issues on digital media platforms.

“This year we are asking people to look beyond labels like 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker' and use their online networks to advocate for an end to destitution in the UK.

“Now, more than ever, people can make their voices heard by taking a stand using social media. Sharing, tweeting and discussing the issues of destitution and asylum, allows people to speak out in their own digital communities to ask for change to a process that results in thousands of people each year living in destitution."

The launch of the social network campaign also coincides with the publication of a British Red Cross survey which shows that one in four British people still believe asylum seekers come to Britain to claim benefits.

According an ICM poll for the British Red Cross, even though 89 per cent correctly said the definition of an asylum seeker is someone fleeing persecution in their own country, 28 per cent still thought an asylum seeker is someone who has come to this country to illegally look for work.

The results of the poll – which surveyed over 2,000 people - show conflicting opinions and a lack of knowledge about the legal definition of asylum.

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