We are delighted that Islington has joined the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network. As a council with a wealth of experience in matters relating to NRPF, Islington is sure to have a very positive contribution to the development of the network.
On the 8th of July 2021 Full Council passed a motion signalling the commitment of the council to embedding sanctuary principles in their work with people of sanctuary seeking background and also their dedication to challenging anti-refugee attitudes wherever they are found.
Motion 1: Making Islington a Borough of Sanctuary
Moved by Cllr Santiago Bell-Bradford
Seconded by Cllr Valerie Bossman-Quarshie
This Council notes:
- The Conservative government’s “Hostile Environment” policies which deliberately make it harder for refugees, asylum seekers, and those who cannot prove their right to remain in the UK.
- The Government’s cruel treatment of the Windrush Generation which has forced many Islington residents, including several who were born in the UK, to go through unnecessary amounts of distress, with some being deported.
- That the Council has supported 137 asylum and migrant households since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, who have No Recourse to Public Funds due to their immigration status. The Council receives no funding from Central Government to support these households.
- The Council has consistently highlighted to the government the impact of underfunding the immigration system. This underfunding results in delayed decision making on applications, unjustifiably high and unreasonable fees for immigration applications and the harsh reality of being excluded from fully participating in society for those who are granted leave to remain in the UK but
who have No Recourse to Public Funds.
- The further difficulties the pandemic has brought for refugees and migrants, including insecure work, lack of access to decent housing and digital exclusion.
- That in December 2020, Islington Council refused to co-operate with the Conservative Government’s policy to make sleeping rough grounds for deportation.
This Council further notes:
- That Islington should celebrates our borough’s rich diversity and welcomes everybody, regardless of their background. The Council recognises the contribution of refugees, migrants and those seeking sanctuary to the Borough of Islington. We are committed to welcoming and including them in all of our activities and actively seek ways in which we can support them.
- That, throughout the pandemic, Islington Council’s support services, such as the We Are Islington helpline, have been open to anyone who has needed them, no matter their immigration status.
- The Council’s recent celebrations of Refugee Week 2021 in which we publicly shared and celebrated the contribution of refugees and migrants in Islington.
- That the Council has worked with local partners to bridge the digital divide during the pandemic, distributing more than 6,000 laptops to families to
support with remote learning and helping with access to online services.
- That the Council is committed to our refugee and migrant communities. We support the initiative to make Islington a recognised ‘Borough of Sanctuary, welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution and offering them safety.
This Council resolves to:
- Join a network of cities and towns which promote the inclusion and welfare of people who are fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries and become a recognised “Borough of Sanctuary”
- Work with community groups to harness public support to help and support refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Islington.
- Continue to celebrate the contribution of refugee and migrant communities to Islington.
- Continue to work with organisations in the borough who support refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the borough.
- Challenge anti-refugee and anti-migrant attitudes wherever they are found.
- Continue to lobby the government to reform the No Recourse to Public Funds condition so that people are no longer blocked from fully participating in society for years while they wait for their status to be resolved. We will continue to put pressure on Central Government to put in place a fully-functional Windrush Compensation Scheme.
- Work with local businesses and community partners to further tackle the digital divide, provide affordable access to online services and look at ways to donate IT devices locally to those in need, rather than scrapping them