UNISON members will not set aside their social work values in supporting asylum seekers

Inez Kirk
Inez Kirk

UNISON will step up support for local government workers who assist asylum seekers in the face of diminishing council budgets,coupled with the denial of public funds for refused asylum seekers still fighting for their right to stay, and the need to share information with other government agencies.

The national union will build upon UNISON Scotland’s guidance in its publication Refuge and Asylum in Scotland: Social Work and Support – A Human Right  not an Administrative Burden, https://unison-scotland.org/asylum-seekers-in-scotland-are-denied-social-work-services-say-unison-and-scottish-association-of-social-work/ to offer guidance to Social Workers and others, such as those in Housing and Education, who offer support to  support asylum seekers across the UK.

Moving Scotland’s motion, Social work support is a right for asylum seekers, Inez Kirk, Scottish Regional representative,  said “If you are a migrant worker from Europe or elsewhere or a refugee from a war torn region or their British son or daughter, you are increasingly justified in thinking that you are not welcome in this country.”

Inez slammed the xenophobic and racist Brexit campaign and the bogus claims that immigrants were draining the country of resources and costing the tax payers billions when the opposite has always been the case, with migrants making a socially and economically positive contribution. “As if that all wasn’t enough to persuade migrant workers that they were not welcome, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, sent ad-trailers round communities saying Go home – you are not welcome

Inez explained the UK Government insists asylum seekers should receive absolute minmum support, and if their initial asylum application is denied, they should receive no financial support at all. “In other words, no accommodation, no health care, no money to buy food. Destitute and starving in the UK. UNISON members in public services are expected to enforce this policy… expected to condemn people, to condemn victims of war and rape and oppression to destitution.”

“In Scotland, some of our social work members were advised by some managers that this included denying vulnerable adults and children access to support under social work legislation that is specifically meant to help vulnerable people when all else fails,”

“We were not prepared to set aside our social work values, our values of human rights and solidarity, to support the most vulnerable in order to collude with the racist policies of this government.”

Inez commended the work the Social Work Issues Group in Scotland had done to produce the Scottish guidance for social workers, moreover the joint working with a range of organisations working with and supporting refugee establishing UNISON as a key organisation in the refugee asylum support community.

Inez called on UNISON to build on this work in order to arm our members with the professional and legal arguments to be able to support refugees and asylum seekers and defend effective social work practice. She concluded “We refuse to implement the Government’s  hostile environment.”

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