Knowsley has agreed to work with the Government to help identify up to 30 properties in the borough to provide homes for asylum seekers who are already in the country, and who are awaiting a decision on their asylum status.
Here we look at the legal differences between refugees and asylum seekers, and answer any questions you may have about the support Knowsley is offering to both groups.
What is an asylum seeker?
The Refugee Council defines an asylum seeker as “someone who has fled persecution in their homeland, has arrived in another country, made themselves known to the authorities and exercised the legal right to apply for asylum”
This means that:
- Asylum seekers have applied to live in the UK because they fear persecution in their home country
- The Home Office will consider their case, during which time they can stay in the country
- An asylum seeker’s application may be refused or accepted
Asylum seekers can stay in the country whilst their application for asylum is being assessed. This may take several months. During this time they can't work, nor receive government benefits.
An asylum seeker may have their application for asylum refused, in this case they must leave the UK.
If their application for asylum is accepted, they become a refugee and may stay in the UK for five years. They will be able to seek work.
Asylum seekers are not allowed to access:
- The local health system (other than in emergencies)
- Local schools/colleges
- Local employment
A Multi Agency Forum has been set up to co-ordinate this process, working closely with colleagues from the Liverpool City Region and the Northwest Regional Strategic Migration Partnership (RSMP) to put in place arrangements to house and support refugees that may come to Knowsley and the wider area. Current group members include:
- Knowsley Council Adult, Children, Safeguarding, Public Health and Housing services
- Voluntary, community and faith sector organisations
- Cheshire Police
- Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group
- Private and social landlords
- Merseyside Police
- Merseyside Fire and Rescue
- Job Centre Plus
- Partners from outside the borough with experience of working with Asylum Seekers and Refugees