Sunday, 27 November 2016

Everyone has an HIV status

Yesterday, I attended Waverley Care's Health in Faith Conference and Dinner to mark World Aids Day and European Testing Week.

I very much appreciate the dedication and commitment that people of faith have made and continue to make in the fight to end HIV and AIDS in Scotland and around the world. It is also a time to remember those who have died due to HIV and AIDS and to support those affected.

I am increasing concerned about the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers with HIV and AIDS. A particular issue that has been highlighted is access to housing and financial support. There is a need to renew our commitment to human rights as a cornerstone for informing policy and practice in relation to HIV-positive Asylum Seekers.  

Work-related rights could be reviewed and Asylum Seekers given permission to work if they have been waiting for more than six months for their cases to be concluded, or if they have been refused asylum but cannot be returned home through no fault of their own. This will prevent vulnerable people being left in a state of limbo for prolonged periods of time, will reduce the burden on the taxpayer, and will allow a small number of asylum seekers to support themselves and their families while contributing to the economy.

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted concluding observations at its 49th meeting, held on 24 June 2016 with regards to Asylum Seekers in the UK:-

"The Committee is concerned about the challenges faced by asylum seekers in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly those that are due to restrictions in accessing employment and the insufficient level of support provided through the daily allowance (art. 2 (2) and (11)).
The Committee recommends that the State party increase the level of support provided to asylum seekers, including through the daily allowance, in order to ensure that they enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to an adequate standard of living. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (see E/C.12/GBR/CO/5, para. 27) and encourages the State party to ensure that asylum seekers are not restricted from accessing employment while their claims are being processed."

In terms of what community leaders can do to make a difference, there is a need to reach out and extend collaborative working across the voluntary sector and involve new groups. We can building expertise on migrant destitution and help to increase capacity within the sector. As highlighted  by the work of Waverley Care's African Health Project, there is also a need for formal voluntary sector organisations to link up with faith-based organisations, African-Caribbean churches in particular, so that destitute migrants can access good quality advice, facilitated by people they trust.
Access to quality advice is the most important operational concern for voluntary sector organisations in the response to migrant destitution. There is a need for resourcing of a technical solution for managing referrals and booking appointments for services, including advice, thus formalising joint work between organisations, making it more efficient. Investment in IT systems would support a systematic way of collecting data on the extent of and nature of destitution amongst migrants. Alongside this, hubs of expertise on destitution amongst migrants could operate and work in partnership with a broad range of organisations across the voluntary sector, and including churches and other places of worship, to ensure wide access points into the system.

The development of authoritative and up-to-date research on the extent of destitution, and the qualitative nature of destitution, amongst migrant children and families is needed. This is required to provide evidence to inform policy. There is a need for evidence on the kinds of services and intervention that work and do not work, based on what outcomes they have.

By taking forward three areas of development – extending collaboration, investing in new systems to facilitate access to advice and building a strong evidence base – will not solve underlying problem of migrant destitution, but will help to strengthen the voluntary sector’s capacity to inform policy, and to alleviate the destitution of this group of children and families.

It is recognised that demand for services is likely to grow alongside a diminished statutory response, and so, the need for such voluntary sector developments has never been more acute or timely.

Further information on support for destitute asylum seekers is available at: 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.