The Independent View: Look Beyond the Label for Refugee Week

It’s Refugee Week, and this year the British Red Cross is focusing on the issue of destitution among asylum seekers in the UK.  A recent poll, commissioned by the British Red Cross, found that many people have conflicting, negative opinions and a lack of understanding of the legal definition of asylum:

  • Although 89% correctly said the definition of an asylum seeker is someone fleeing persecution in their own country, 28% still thought an asylum seeker is someone who has come to this country to illegally look for work.
  • 57% of people thought that asylum seekers were given vouchers to cover living expenses up to £100 a week with 14% thinking the weekly amount was over £100.

In reality, asylum seekers receive accommodation and vouchers equalling just £35 a week. Refused asylum seekers on the other hand, do not receive any support at all.

    This year’s Look Beyond the Label campaign is fronted by an interactive viral video featuring Hollywood star Dougray Scott, singer Karen David and stand up comedian Stephen K Amos. The video is hosted on a Facebook application, where people can click “like” to vote for an end to destitution in the United Kingdom.  Viewers can also share the application on their own Facebook profiles, write comments showing their support, or click through to read other refugee stories.

    Margaret O’Donnell, British Red Cross Head of Digital Media said:

    “This year we are asking people to look beyond labels like ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ and use their online networks to advocate for an end to destitution in the UK.

    “Now, more than ever, people can make their voices heard by taking a stand using social media. Sharing, tweeting and discussing the issues of destitution and asylum, allows people to speak out in their own digital communities to ask for change to a process that results in thousands of people each year living in destitution.”

    To find out more about Refugee Week, please visit

    The Independent View‘ is a slot on Lib Dem Voice which allows those from beyond the party to contribute to debates we believe are of interest to LDV’s readers. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in contributing.

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    This entry was posted in Op-eds and The Independent View.


    • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '10 - 11:59am

      The problem is that there are millions and millions of people across the world in countries which are so poor that they will risk life and limb to get here and do some crap no-questions-asked cash-in-hand job. There are also millions and millions of people across the world who live in countries where cruel oppression of anyone who disagrees with the government, or is of the wrong ethnic background or sexuality or whatever, is the norm. Some of these millions coincide. Liberal-minded people would like to think there are easy answers to this, but there are not. For every oppressed person who gets here and legitimately claims asylum for very justified reasons, there are hundreds more across the world whose only reason for not doing so is that they lack the guts/contacts to make it. One might also note that seeing the sort of crazy and dangerous things which people coming here illegally from poor countries purely for economic reasons will do to get in, it is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that someone like this will become fairly adept at saying whatever is necessary to make an asylum claim.

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