Amplifying Voices

Safe Routes Save Lives

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Safe Passage Young Leaders gather with hundreds of grassroots campaigners and refugee-led groups to challenge the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill. October 2021. Credit: Natasa Leoni. 

“Imagine a child in a refugee camp in Greece unable to reach safety and at risk of exploitation by traffickers and smugglers. Let’s avoid that and provide safe routes!”
Nouran, Safe Passage Young Leader.

The Campaign

In March 2021, the Government announced changes to the UK asylum system through the Nationality and Borders Bill which prevented refugees, forced to take dangerous journeys to the UK, from having safe routes to flee war and persecution.

Three groups led by young refugees and asylum seekers with experience of migration and the asylum system – Safe Passage Young Leaders, The KRAN Youth Forum and Hummingbird Young Leaders – gathered together on Zoom to call for safe routes and get their voices heard.

Their report, Safe Routes from the Perspective of Young Refugees, makes the case for opening safe routes to the UK for refugees, through personal testimony and policy recommendations. The group wrote to the Home Secretary, met with MPs and Peers, and spoke out at public demonstrations and in the press, to spread the message that Safe Routes Save Lives.

awards

Young Leaders from Safe Passage, Hummingbird and KRAN gather by Parliament to physically hand in their report and letter to the Home Secretary. June 2021. Credit: Safe Passage. 

Being shortlisted means so much to our group. We may not have won all our demands through the recent Nationality and Borders Bill, but we are making changes, having an impact and progressing. I’m proud to be recognised as a group of successful campaigners – our whole team. This news will motivate us to not give up on this campaign for safe routes and on any other campaign for refugees’ rights.”

Nouran, Safe Passage Young Leader

awards

Young Leaders from Safe Passage, Hummingbird and KRAN gather by Parliament to physically hand in their report and letter to the Home Secretary. June 2021. Credit: Safe Passage. 

Being shortlisted means so much to our group. We may not have won all our demands through the recent Nationality and Borders Bill, but we are making changes, having an impact and progressing. I’m proud to be recognised as a group of successful campaigners – our whole team. This news will motivate us to not give up on this campaign for safe routes and on any other campaign for refugees’ rights.”

Nouran, Safe Passage Young Leader

The Change

In early 2022, they met online with members of the House of Lords to highlight the importance of safe routes. This had a significant impact in Parliament and in the media. Several parliamentarians shared the young people’s powerful testimonies in debates and one MP helped to coordinate a cross-party letter to the Home Secretary, bringing their report to her attention.

In February, the House of Lords voted against the Government and for amendments on family reunion and resettlement – a big win for their campaign.

They also increased the positive impact of press coverage about refugees, sharing first-hand experiences and highlighting to the public that safe routes save lives.

The Nationality and Borders Bill passed in the Commons and will soon become legislation, but the campaign views their work as a marathon, not a sprint. They have now built a powerful movement of young refugee voices across the UK, which will be the foundation for future campaigns.

 

The Future

The Young Leaders have plans for 2022 and beyond. They will continue to empower themselves and other young people to become confident and effective advocates for refugees’ rights.

With the prospect of the new Nationality and Borders Bill removing rights from people who have been forced to leave their homes to seek safety, and an increasingly hostile climate towards refugees and asylum seekers, the need for a more welcoming society for refugees is clear. The Young Leaders are determined to continue the fight.

Young Leaders from Safe Passage and KRAN hand in a letter to Lords calling for more safe routes for refugees. September 2020. Credit: Safe Passage. 

Conservative MP Tim Loughton takes the Young Leaders’ letter and report to hand in to the Home Secretary and Prime Minister. June 2021. Credit: Safe Passage. 

Joel, Safe Passage Young Leader, speaks at the Refugees Welcome Rally in October 2021. He shares his personal experiences and calls for a more humane approach to the UK asylum system, calling for more safe routes to access. Credit: Natasa Leoni.