Help subvert the voucher system for asylum seekers

By Jonathan Bartley
July 24, 2009

Some refugees are still being forced to live on supermarket vouchers instead of cash seven years after the government scrapped the controversial system because it was unfair and unworkable.

Refugee welfare groups say the vouchers, given to those whose appeals have failed, stigmatise asylum seekers, damage community relations and are more difficult to administer than cash. Supermarkets are often miles away from where refugees live. Charities have also pointed to "unnecessary suffering”, with recipients facing hunger, poverty, and mental health difficulties.

Charities are calling for an overhaul of section four of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, which provides accommodation and vouchers worth £35 a week to people who have exhausted their rights to appeal.

In the meantime, the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF), PRAXIS, Jesuit Refugee Service and London Citizens are subverting the system by running a voucher exchange scheme to help asylum seekers access cash.

MRCF now have hundreds of pounds of Sainsbury's and Tesco's gift vouchers which they want people to buy from them at face value. They are standard gift vouchers.

If you want to buy vouchers, you can get a voucher exchange form and post it back to the MRCF at: 2 Thorpe Close, London W10 5XL, along with a cheque.

Alternatively you can go in person and buy in cash.

For further details contact Zrinka Bralo on 020 8962 3046

Or, if you are feeling a little bolder, why not consider setting up a voucher exchange scheme yourself? Church Action on Poverty have produced a guide here:

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