A hundred live as failed asylum seekers during Lent

By staff writers
20 Mar 2008

An initiative in which 100 people have lived as failed asylum seekers for a week in a 'visible act of solidarity', comes to an end this Saturday,

The people from across the country spent a week this Lent living on £3.50 and a typical food parcel in a project co-ordinated by the Boaz Trust.

The challenge was coordinated by the Manchester-based destitution project and has received extensive media coverage.

The initiative is designed to highlight the plight of failed asylum seekers, as well as give people an insight into what life is like for them.

When someone’s case is refused, the Home Office allows them two weeks notice to leave their accommodation, at which time the financial provision of £37 a week will also be stopped. This is despite often having no means to leave the country either by land, sea or air. Many feel that their good grounds for claiming asylum have been poorly represented or they simply fear returning to their home country & so are forced to begin to live a life of utter destitution.

It is at this stage that government policy on immigration and asylum creates what campaigners call ‘Living Ghosts’. They are essentially airbrushed out of existence as ‘failed’ asylum seekers, but they remain here and this reality tends to go unnoticed by society at large.

Some receive support of a basic food parcel from destitution projects across the country -these are often facilitated through the goodwill & charity of faith and community groups working together with the British Red Cross.

The Lent Endurance Challenge was to live the life of a refused person seeking asylum for one week, in order to give participants a small insight of how such people experience poverty in the UK.

Participants are given an Endurance Journal to record their week.

You can read a couple of blogs by people who have undertaken it here and here

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