As one tries to study and understand the refugee[refugees,asylum seekers and the destitute]question in Bradford, one finds himself seriously handicapped by absence of stastistics to work with. No local refugee organisation seem to have uptodate statistic on the total numbers of refugees in the Bradord area –the numbers of refugees;the numbers of asylum seekeres;asylum dependants; the numbers of the destitute; asylum seekers that have been provided with housing;those in detention and those facing deportation.Yet there are quite a few organisations that could have easily done that.When one considers the importance of numbers in today’s world one finds this absence of local statistics inhibiting. Perhaps we need to read what other organisations think about the importance of statistics in thier institutions
Just think for a moment about the importance of numbers in all our lives.We use numbers to tell the time,measure income and expenditure, order drinks and count our change,—-It is probably impossible to live through a single day without meeting numbers in some form or other.[loughborough University Students Hub-(Message on the Student Union Notice Board)]
The power of the media lies in its reach,its power derived from the belief if a large number of people know about an issue,someone’s concience(or shame) will force its way through the rubble of accountability and leads to action. But while we know concience and shame don’t always find a way through(politics is a convinient example) numbers are everything.[UNKNOWN]
One distinguishing characteristic of an educated person is that he or she can be emotionally moved by statistics.[George Bernard Shaw in American Science-Sep to Oct 2000 p1]
Sadly for Braford,most of our decision rely on stastistics borrowed from national figures.But it must be clear to us all that when refugee stastistics for local communities such our own are analysed as part of national figures local objectives are severely compromised.They become subordinated fto the purposes for which those national figures were compiled.When the figures are extracted to serve purposes, they come out like dry bones,because they were put in without local flesh in the first place; they come out like empty vessels or naked objects because they do not have input from local institutions.Our dependence on national statistics to comprehend local problems is therefore improper and often of little use.
Collecting figures locally has always the mother of change for the communities.The process of getting numbers result in the first form of communication and as you know communication opens doors! To come up with the numbers one must have done one or more of the following-physically counted the people, received oral or written information from one who has most probably counted the people; or read reports from one who has done the same.
Counting people becomes the first form of service one gives to the refugees.Counting people exposes a reseacher not only to the numbers but also to the state in which the people are living-housing or absence of it; clothing; food;money;social security-all these isues become possible to understand and find possible ways of helping for those that have plans to help.
Numbers provide help with the difficult problem of locating the people with need as these people often hide away from the public because to them the public are part of the reason why they are in that state.Getting a method to know where they are helps in the exercise of building the bridges essential in helping them.
So what should we do as The Bradford Refugee Forum.I think we need to research and have the national and regional statistcs where they can be reached as easily as possible by those that wish to benefit our community.My feeling is that there are many organisations out there willing to help us but are frustrated by absence of statistics.Then we must source funding to do our own research and have accurate statistics available in our files. Finally we need to invite people to use our statistics to inprove the welfare of asylum seekers in our community.I did a quick survey of what we could use presently.
STATISTICS OF REFUGEES IN BRADFORD
The Home office published statistics four times annually.Below are the total figures of asylum applications between 2006 and 2009 and the totals of refusals in the same period.
YEAR APPLICANTS REFUSALS
2006 23610 16460
2007 23430 16030
2008 25930 13505
2009 24250 17805
Sadly these applications are made only at Croydon and Liverpool and figures of those that end up in our region or community are not readily available.There is therefore need for sponsored research to come up with a similar set of statistics for our community.this is very important because several organisations both state -run and private have been forced to first of all carry out their own research before providing the essential service.One such organisation that had to do onw research on numbers before helping the community was the Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust who had to invite the University of Central Lancashire to do a vital research to enable them to study the level of mental health problems among bradford refugee and asylum seekers.Here is what their reseachers said about numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Bradford.
ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES IN BRADFORD
The exact number of refugee and asylum seekers in Bradford are not known, but we have been advised that there about 1000 -1200 households(single people and families) currently known to the National Asylum Support Service(NASS) in bradrord(Bradford Action for Refugees,verbal communication, 26January 2009).Approximately half of these are peopele whose application for asylum are under consideration and about half have had their applications turned down(‘failed’ asylum seekers) but cannot be immediately deported (for instancewhile their safity in their home countries is investigated).Failed asylum seekers may receive minimal levels of support, mainly accommodation and vouchers, if they would otherwise be destitute.
Much of the health care provided to asylum seekers in Bradford is accessed through Bevan House, a primaart care centre specialising in their needs(along with homeless people).This report gives an opportunity to a small number of asylum seekers/refugees in Bradford to talk about their need for emotional and mental health support.[Community Research March 2009]
There are national figures on numbers of asylum seekers receiving accommodation support and they do have figures of numbers of refugees given accommodation at local level.Below is a list of figures provided by the Home Office for 2009
National Yorkshire and Humber Leeds Bradford
23845 3540 645 480
We can never be able to update and correct these figures unless and until we carry out local researches approppriate to our needs, because as we know there is nothing as important to people coming from the warmer parts of the world as proper accommodation in this cold part of the world.Many refugees are keen to participate in projects that provide them with warm places for themselves and their children.
There has been a few organisations that have worked and done a lot of credible work for refugees despite limited information on who to help. One organisation that has brought together other groups in Sheffield,Leeds,Birmingham,Bradford and Bolton to help provide accommodation for refugees is ACCOMMODATE.Their efforts was noticed by the Archbishop of York who made this interesting observation about involving refugees in the struggle to get accommodation for refugees.
One of the most remarkable lessons from the experience [of the Accommodation project is the power of the powerless in bringing about change when they come together.[The Most Reverent and Right Honourable Dr. John Sentamu,Archbishop of York]
Bradford is lucky to have many organisations working on placing our destitute in private homes.Without mentioning them by name,we wish to let them know that the refugee community is very grateful.
The Accommodate Project and all others working towards providing refugees with better lives in the UK need more and reliable statistics to work withand we could help this cause if we carried out research to assist.
The Home Office has even provided figures for people at all the detention centres.Below are those for the year 2009 only.
PERSONS IN DETENTION 2009
Asylum seekers 15580
Total Adults 26940
Total Children 1065
UK BORDER AGENCY REMOVAL CENTRE
Oaking Reception Centre 4030
Yarl’s Wood 3415
Tinsley House 2280
Campsfield House 1310
Brook House 610
Dover Immigration Removal Centre 545
UK BORDER AGENCY SHORT TERM HOLDING FACILITIES
Colnbrook Short Term 5890
Dover Harbour 3590
Pennine House 2600
Finally, if anyone doubts the necessity and importance of statistics, they need to look at the work done by Dave Brown on destitutes in Leeds in 2008.From it we now know that 331 individuals were recorded as destitutes adults with families that were approached by Dave Brown’s reseachers.Of these 266 were accessing servicesin 2006.Although I think that these were conservative figures, it is what Brown did with these figures that makes it imperetive for all local community groups to build statistics.His second chapter details numbers of adults;of children;the visits they have made;demands on the agencies;reason for destitution;section 4 Support;Care resolutios;Where destitute people sleep and many other useful sub-topics.
There is honestly need to for all refugee organisations to do a similar research.
1.Dave Brown:More Destitution in Leeds: Report survey of destitute asylum seekers and refugeesapproaching local agencies for support.Research Commissioned by the Joseph owntree Charitable Trust June 2009.
2.Community Research March 2009:Asylum Seekers and Refugees: Outcomes and Commissioning in Mental Health Service for Black and Minority ethnic comminities:Bradford +Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust with University of Central Lancashire:UNCLAN March 2009.
3.Finding Santuary, Enriching Yorkshire and Humber:Intergration Strategies for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (2009-2011):Yorkshire and Humber Regional Partnership.June 2009.
4.Black women support project-Ethosand Philosophy:Manningham Housing Association.
5.ACCOMMODATE(ACT: the Housing Action Charity) January 13,2010.
6.John Perry: Guide to Housing and support for Asylum seekers and refugees.21 Sept. 2005