This week is UK Black Maternal Mental Health Week (BMMHW), taking place from 25th September to 1st October. BMMHW is an annual event that aims to promote education, advocacy, and support for Black women during their pregnancy and postpartum journey, which is deeply relevant for the Amma community.
On March 24, Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled the government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’ policy paper. It proposes that only people arriving to the UK through official routes, like resettlement schemes, will be permitted to settle in the UK permanently.
If put into place, this policy would deny refugee status to anyone who passes through a third ‘safe’ country before arrival to the UK.
Anyone who makes a clandestine journey to the UK will be granted a new ‘temporary protection status’.
This temporary status will make it nearly impossible for asylum seekers to build a new life in the UK. They will be assessed for removal every 30 months. They will have fewer rights to family reunion. And they will have no recourse to public funds except in cases of destitution.
Article 31 of the Refugee Convention states:
The New Plan fails to acknowledge that not everyone can enter the UK via a legal route.
Currently, only a very small proportion of refugees come to the UK through resettlement schemes. And, for many people, it is simply not possible to obtain a visa to travel.
How someone arrives here shouldn’t determine the validity of their claim. People fleeing for their lives do not have the luxury of choosing how they escape.
The New Plan talks about the importance of integration. But it also proposes accommodating asylum seekers who arrive through illegal routes in ‘reception centres’ while their claims are processed. Some asylum claims could be processed offshore.
This doesn’t add up.
Mears’ recent introduction of a mother and baby unit in Glasgow is indicative of a general move by the Home Office towards institutional accommodation for asylum seekers. The New Plan takes things one step further by completely segregating those seeking safety from communities.
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On June 23, we were delighted to attend the Scottish Charity Awards in Edinburgh. Hosted by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), these awards celebrate the individuals and organisations that strengthen our communities and improve people’s lives across Scotland. This year’s shortlist included Amma’s Vice-Chair, Vongayi Mufara, who was awarded Trustee of the Year.
On Friday, June 23, as part of Refugee Festival Scotland, we held an event at Glasgow Women’s Library celebrating our project Mama Stitch. This project was a collaboration between Amma and Dr Lucy Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Medical Anthropology at Edinburgh University.