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Birmingham City Council to cut asylum support funding

your city, your voice, my arse! | 22.06.2005 11:28 | Birmingham

In a less than welcome beginning to this year's Refugee Week, workers at
Birmingham's Asylum Support and Immigration resource team (ASIRT) have learnt that of a recommendation going forward to Councillor John Lines, City Council Member for Housing, that the organisation's application for grant renewal be refused.

ASIRT has been part-funded by Birmingham City Council for the past 4
years, so the recommendation has come as a shock - particularly given the number of vulnerable people facing destitution in the city as the result of lack of access to affordable legal representation. The proposed funding cut would equal the loss of a full-time post in an organisation which presently has the capacity to fund only 3 workers, one of whom is part-time. The cut would, therefore, have a major impact on ASIRT's service delivery and, therefore, on the lives of some extremely vulnerable people.

Informal research carried out by ASIRT staff indicates that anywhere
between a third and a half of all asylum appeal cases heard at the
city's Sheldon Tribunal Court are heard without any form of legal
representation whatsoever, making the need for an organisation such as ASIRT to receive adequate funding to help plug the gaps all the more urgent. The need is particularly evident in the light of the research, such as the Amnesty International Report "Get it Right" highlighting the poor quality of the Home Office's decision-making in asylum cases. Indeed, one young man recently approached ASIRT for help following the refusal of his claim based on the fact that his credibility had been called into account by the "fact" that the places he had claimed to travel through in his bid for sanctuary "did not exist" - despite the fact that a quick internet search easily demonstrated the veracity of his account.

ASIRT is one of very few organisations registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner at Level 3 and not tied to legal aid restrictions. Consequently, ASIRT is able to deal with all the related issues likely to be faced by an asylum seeker- such as housing and homelessness, financial and community care support as well as
immigration advice and representation. All services are provided free of charge. We also have a long and proud tradition of working with victims of domestic violence who are subject to immigration control, assisting many desperate and vulnerable women and children to access quality legal represntation and to rebuild their lives in safe and secure environments. This work is jeopardised should the proposed funding cut go through.

As local MP Roger Godsiff has commented in correspondence with ASIRT:-

"As you know, there are a lot of unscrupulous people who offer
immigration advice and it is therefore pleasing to me to find an organisation which is well recommended."

To help, please write to Councillor John Lines at the Council House,
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB (
voicing your oppostion to this cut.

For more information, or to send messages of support, please contact
Dave Stamp or Salman Mirza at ASIRT, 90 Evelyn Rd, Sparkhill, Birmingham, B11 3JJ, 0121 772 6700 (Email-

your city, your voice, my arse!
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  1. Correction — ASIRT