An audience of about 300 were uplifted and empowered at the Asylum Forum in Malvern on 26 October. Clear presentations were packed with information as different aspects of the UK asylum process were expertly and critically assessed by AIUK Director Kate Allen, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association Legal Officer Steve Symonds, head of Medical Services at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture Dr Juliet Cohen, and co-founder of Medical Justice Harris Nyatsanza.
Mike Kaye, Advocacy Manager of the Still Human Still Here campaign, was an excellent Chair, using his own expertise to direct the questions and answer session. The audience was impassioned and lively.
As well as being equipped with information and encouraged by the shared sense of outrage at the injustice of the asylum system, the audience was touched by poems from Herefordshire poet Tony Walton and Iranian poet Alireza Babae – his first public performance after five years of £35 per week survival as an asylum-seeker in Gloucester.
The positive effects of the event were many and varied. Stratford group wrote of being energized at their meeting the following day, of being better informed and more able to tackle their MP on the asylum issue. Solihull group spoke of the joy of Birmingham asylum-seekers who, for the first time in the UK, walked in green open spaces on the Malvern Hills before the event.
Infectious enthusiasm, empowerment and encouragement, ingredients for active campaigning, were experienced by all who attended from as far afield as Swansea, Swindon and London.
Please note this blog post was written by Trevor Trueman of Malvern Amnesty International group.