Students sleep rough to support asylum seekers

SLEEPcl'Pictured are Sheffield University Students taking part in a sponsored sleep out outside the Students Union building to raise awareness about asylum seekers in Sheffield.The group were visited by Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan(left)
SLEEPcl'Pictured are Sheffield University Students taking part in a sponsored sleep out outside the Students Union building to raise awareness about asylum seekers in Sheffield.The group were visited by Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan(left)

HARDY students slept outdoors in a bid to highlight the plight of asylum seekers struggling to make a new life in Britain.

Members of Student Action for Refugees (Star) joined Amnesty International and volunteers from Asylum Seeker Support Initiative Short Term (Assist), a Sheffield charity supporting destitute asylum seekers in the city to spend the night sleeping rough outside Sheffield University’s Students’ Union.

The sleep-out was aimed at drawing attention to the plight many asylum seekers face - living on minimal benefits because they are unable to work until applications to live in the UK are approved.

The students said when bids for asylum are turned down, many immigrants many are left destitute, with no financial support, accommodation or right to work - and often ending up sleeping rough.

Philosophy student and Star president Erin Mee said: “We are proud to be campaigning with Assist, a fantastic local cause. When all other doors are shut for asylum seekers in Sheffield, Assist gives support.

“It provides help in the form of accommodation, food and a small weekly allowance for the most needy and distressed and helps them find ways of making friends.”

Assist volunteer Abi Taylor said: “In April, the Government will decide whether to increase asylum support rates in line with inflation. Sleeping out on a winter’s night is our way of drawing attention to the plight of many of the people who are seeking sanctuary in our country and are forced into sleeping rough.

“We need to make sure the issue of destitution is high up the agenda so they make the support system fairer.”

Linda McAvan, Labour MEP for the Yorkshire and Humber region, met those taking part in the sleep out to talk about the plight of asylum seekers.