The removal of the right for those awaiting asylum decisions, in 2002, has exacerbated the enormous difficulties faced both individually by people seeking asylum, but also by services attempting to support them.

Work provides a sense of productivity and belonging essential in enabling individuals to maintain essential work and personal skills and integrate into their host community,   instead people are left feeling isolated and unproductive.  

The majority of refugees come from countries with an extremely strong work ethic, and they feel humiliated by their enforced reliance on benefits.  

There is a growing body of evidence showing that opportunity to work enables the individual to maintian their own well being, contribute to the wider society, reduce the cost to the tax payer and challenge damaging stereotypes.

Why is this idea important?

In addition to the impact on the individual, and communtities, the impact on services, including NHS, Social Care services and the third sector is hightened by the negative effects of worklessness.

I work in a specialist NHS service for refugees and people seeking aslyum and the academic and anecdotal evidence shows worklessness as a detrimental force in almost every client I see.   They lose essential skills and confidence and struggle to find something meaningful and productive to do.   It places barriers in the way of developing language skills, adjusting across cultures and establishing the kind of social capital that supports everyday life.  

In addition to lightening the burden on taxpayers, service providers and the host community, permission to work would enable the individual to maintain their skills, many of which would be of great value to us here in the UK, maintain their well-being ( particuarly their mental health) and fit them for the challenges that lie ahead – whether they gain or are denied refugee status.   

For a simple overview of the issues:

http://www.refugeevoices.org.uk/images/stories/Right%20to%20work%20campaign/tuc_rrf_right_to_work_leaflet_oct_08.pdf

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