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St Helens Council, working alongside various charities and external agencies, thrives to make the borough a safe place for refugees and asylum seekers to live.
An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. A refugee is someone who has been recognised under the UN 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the status of refugees to be a refugee.
Syrian refugees will be dispersed under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) Scheme. This scheme prioritises help for survivors of torture and violence; women and children at risk; and those in need of medical care. The United Kingdom Government works with the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees to identify suitable cases.
Due to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, vulnerable children can be at risk of exploitation, may be subjected to child labour or child marriage. The Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme offers one of the only safe routes to resettlement. The Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme is available to children and their immediate family members. Identified by the United Nations as being most in need, they are resettled to the UK from refugee camps and other unsafe environments across the Middle East and North Africa.
Asylum claims in the United Kingdom are processed by the Home Office’s UK Visa and Immigration division.
While an asylum claim is being processed, the individual seeking asylum (the asylum seeker) receives support under arrangements set out by UK Visa and Immigration; this includes legal aid, accommodation and financial support.
Accommodation may be provided through one of the UK’s Immigration Removal Centres, or through controlled housing agreements under the Asylum Seeker Dispersal Arrangements. In the North West of England, including St Helens, dispersal arrangements are facilitated by a specialist housing provider, Serco.
St Helens Council aims to ensure asylum seekers and refugees are supported while settling into the borough community and receive appropriate access to local services. This will be achieved by:
Agencies meet once every quarter in the MAF to share any updates in their services or any concerns they might have. The purpose of the MAF is to identify issues and put strategies into place to tackle those issues.
Grants are made available to support local community projects or initiatives that work to support social cohesion in St Helens. A total of £18,000 funds projects delivered in St Helens for up to one year that address any of the following themes:
Two of the projects are Café Laziz, based at Central Link Children's Centre. Café Laziz is open every Thursday from 10am until 2pm, with drinks being served from 10am and food being served from 12 noon; and The Bike Shed based on Devon Street. The Bike Shed operates from a double garage, with four bike stations and a professional preparation area. Bikes are donated for renovation from a variety of sources, including Merseyside Police Service Evidence Disposal Unit (35 bikes to date) and through word of mouth.
For more information, please see contact and e-mail addresses below:
Central Link Children's Centre
Off Peter Street
The Bike Shed
WA10 4 HX
There are two drop-in centres available for asylum seekers and refugees to meet in a social setting as well as access support services. The details are as follows:
St Andrew's Church
Dentons Green Lane
Our Warm Welcome
Holy Cross Parish Centre
An person within the asylum claim process (commonly known as an Asylum Seeker)
A person who has been granted Refugee Status (a successful Asylum claimant)
A person with leave to remain on Humanitarian Grounds (an Asylum claimant whose home country is deemed too unstable or dangerous for them to return to)
A person refused Asylum but agreeing to leave the UK (an unsuccessful Asylum claimant)
A person refused Asylum but unwilling to leave the UK (an unsuccessful Asylum claimant)
The criteria for refugee status are set out in the UN 1951 Refugee Convention. Under Article 1(A)2, the term “refugee” applies to any person who:
“...owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
Refugees are defined by three basic characteristics:
A refugee has the same rights as any other citizen, apart from the right to vote.
The term “asylum seeker” refers to a person who has applied for asylum, but whose refugee status has yet to be determined.
Until an asylum claim is determined, an asylum seeker in the UK has limited or restricted rights.
An unaccompanied child seeking asylum in the UK (under the age of 18) is supported by the State.
Some asylum seekers are dispersed within the UK whilst their claim is being processed. To find out how this is arranged in St.Helens visit our Asylum Seeker Dispersal Arrangements page.
NB A person seeking asylum is different to an economic migrant, the latter is a foreign national who has permission to work in the UK.
NB A person seeking asylum is not an illegal immigrant, the latter has no right to be in the UK