South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG)

c/o  Scotia Works
Leadmill Street
Sheffield S1 4SE

9 April 2010




We are writing on behalf of the organisations in South Yorkshire listed on the attached sheet which are concerned about the situation of those seeking asylum in our region after escaping from their own countries.


People seeking asylum have much to offer the communities of South Yorkshire but they are among the most vulnerable people in our region. They face a difficult life here, often with prolonged uncertainty about their future. They are not allowed to work. Some receive very limited financial support (now only £5 a day for single people) in the form of inflexible vouchers or personalised ‘azure cards’, but others are destitute. Legal support is inadequate. Fresh claims from within the UK have to be made personally in Croydon. Many of those seeking asylum suffer from mental and/or physical health problems, but their access to healthcare is restricted. They and their children can be detained for indefinite periods without the right of habeas corpus.  Their efforts to become integrated into this country are often frustrated by a lack of classes in English.


It is sometimes suggested that we need to treat people in this way in order to deter others from seeking asylum here. Research evidence gives no support to this argument. We should rather be guided by our regional traditions of hospitality and generosity towards those who are vulnerable.


We are asking you to pledge yourself to a more humane system by supporting the following reforms:

  • Grant those seeking asylum the right  to work;
  • Replace vouchers and azure cards with adequate cash support;
  • End the detention of children and seek an Inquiry into the use of detention for adults;
  • Give those seeking asylum full access to healthcare and to English courses;
  • Give adequate legal aid and enough time to make legal representations;
  • Allow fresh claims and submissions to be lodged with the nearest Borders Agency office and meet related travel costs.


We should be grateful if you would let Stuart Crosthwaite at the above address know within the next two weeks whether you can make these pledges. We intend to report to the media in South Yorkshire on the extent to which candidates support these pledges.


Yours sincerely,

Jim Steinke(South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group-  SYMAAG) Robert Spooner(Asylum Seeker Support Initiative Short Term – ASSIST) Sue Taylor(Sheffield Committee to Defend Asylum seekers –  CDAS- Sheffield) Matt Sammons(Student Action for Refugees – Sheffield –STAR)





 Africa Time Community Organisation – South YorkshireAsylum Seeker Support Initiative Short Term – Sheffield ASSIST 

Asylum Seeker Support Initiative Short Term – Rotherham ASSIST


Black and Ethnic Minority Initiative – Barnsley


Barnsley Trades Council


Church Action on Poverty in Barnsley


Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield.


Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers -CDAS- Sheffield.


Diocese of Hallam Justice and Peace Commission


Diocese of Sheffield Board of Faith and Justice


Eastwood Methodist Church, Rotherham.


Greater Somali Community Network, Sheffield


Islamic Society of Britain – South Yorkshire Branch


Methodist Church – Sheffield District


Movement for Democratic Change (M).


Our Lady of St.James Church, Barnsley


Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Hillsborough, Sheffield.


Shalom Africa


Sheffield Amnesty International.


South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group  (SYMAAG)


See below for local candidates who said that they supported all 6 of our asylum election pledges


St Ann’s Church DeepcarSt Luke’s Church, Lodge Moor, Sheffield 

St Marks Church, Broomhill, Sheffield


St Mary’s Church Penistone


St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, Cantley, Doncaster


St William of York Roman Catholic Church, Sheffield


Student Action for Refugees (STAR –



Take Part – South Yorkshire


Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Democratic Republic of Congo) UK Organisation


UAF (Unite Against Fascism) Barnsley


University and College Union, Barnsley College Branch


Victoria Hall Methodist Church, Sheffield


Zimbabwe Community Network Association – Sheffield



Constituency Candidate Party
Sheffield Hallam Nick Clegg Liberal Democrat
Sheffield Hallam Steve Barnard Green
Sheffield Hallam Martin Fitzpatrick Independent
Sheffield Central Jillian Creasy Green
Sheffield Central Paul Scriven Liberal Democrat
Sheffield Brightside Maxine Bowler Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Sheffield Heeley Simon Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat
Sheffield Attercliffe Clive Betts Labour
Rotherham Rebecca Taylor Liberal Democrat
Rother Valley Kevin Barron Labour
Barnsley Central Eric Illsley Labour
Barnsley East John Brown Liberal Democrat