Here at the Asylum Support Appeals Project we were elated to win the top prize of the London Homelessness Awards: In memory of Andy Ludlow.
Our project is unique, and we have worked hard to find innovative solutions to the ever changing situation that asylum seekers face. Our trustees, staff and volunteers have shown unprecedented levels of commitment to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in our society today, can access a roof over their head and food to eat. We work with destitute asylum seekers, which to be completely frank; can often be an unpopular group of people in the UK. Their reputation muddied by false truths and often complete myths perpetuated by much of the press, and many politicians.
So to get this positive recognition of our work and to highlight the issues of destitute asylum seekers within the mainstream homelessness sector has been a huge deal for us.
We still can’t quite believe we have been given £30,000 from the sponsors of the awards London Housing Foundation, London Councils and Shelter. We cashed the cheque super quick in case they changed their minds!
So what do we do at ASAP?
Our work is based at the Asylum Support Tribunal in East London. We provide free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers who are appealing against a Home Office refusal of their accommodation and support (£5 food vouchers a day). Our legal team and 45 volunteer solicitors and barristers have advised and represented over 800 destitute asylum seekers at the Tribunal in the last year and successfully secured support for over 70% of them.
However the numbers of appeals has risen sharply by 65% in the past few months and is set to continue. This means many destitute asylum seekers are having to navigate the tribunal appeal on their own, and represent themselves. We hope to use the £30,000 to pay for an additional legal advisor so we can represent more people at the tribunal and ensure more destitute asylum seekers can access their legal rights to accommodation and support.
Over the next few weeks we will try to give more information about our work, how the LHA money is making a difference, and highlighting some stories about people we work with.