Posted: 05 February 2013

Shocking stories of families seeking safety here

I've spent the past few months reading through and listening to hundreds of pieces of evidence about families who've come to the UK seeking safety after fleeing war and persecution. Families told us what happened to them when they got here. Their stories are shocking.

We heard about a woman who had no cash support at all when she gave birth and was forced to carry her tiny newborn and her few belongings, walking all the way home in the snow because she couldn't get a bus.

We heard from a family whose two small children were forced to sleep on a bare floor and survive on handouts from strangers just to eat - for five months. 

We heard about children living on as little as £5 a day because their parents are not allowed to work. We heard how families are made to stay in cramped and dirty accommodation, where the owners often barge in unannounced, terrifying the children. 

Supporting a parliamentary inquiry

This evidence was part of a parliamentary inquiry that we supported. What we heard adds up to a desperate situation: vulnerable children forced into destitution and treated with a complete lack of human dignity. The inquiry panel just published its report (summary, full report), and with them, we are calling for change.

We are urging an immediate end to the system of support that means asylum-seeking families get no cash at all - they get a tiny amount of money on a special card, meaning they can't do basic things like use the bus to get to hospital, or save up for a coat to keep their child warm in the winter. 

We're calling for asylum support rates to be brought into line with basic benefit levels. Right now, they are much lower, putting families way below the poverty line. 

We support a society that treats all children with basic human dignity no matter where they were born or who their parents are – if you do too, email your MP today.

By Ilona Pinter - Policy team

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