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The Commissioners

Media coverage

How to argue asylum

The Inquiry process

Useful websites

The thought experiment


Joseph Rowntree Destitution Inquiry

The Commissioners of the Joseph Rowntree Inquiry into Destitution among Refused Asylum Seekers published their report in March 2007, calling for changes to ensure:

  • that the asylum claims process keeps people in the system, and does not drive them from it
  • that asylum seekers can contribute to host communities whenever possible rather than being a burden to them
  • that all asylum seekers have access to the basic necessities of life

You can download the Commissioners report, and the related research report on destitution in Leeds, from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust website

The Inquiry was co-ordinated by Ruth Wilson of tandem.

The Commissioners
Kate Adie OBE
Julian Baggini
Courtenay Griffiths QC
Bill Kilgallon OBE
Sayeeda Warsi

Media coverage
Here is some of the media coverage from the day of the launch and following week:

Julian Baggini’s comment piece in the Guardian

Sayeeda Warsi: Allowing refused asylum seekers to work would benefit everyone

Yorkshire Post: Plight of the refugees left to rot in Yorkshire

Yorkshire Evening Post: Give them a working chance

Guardian leader: Impoverished politics

How to argue asylum
Julian Baggini has written a short analysis of how the Radio 4 Moral Maze panel tried to trip up Kate Adie, Chair of the Destitution Inquiry.

The Inquiry process
As Inquiry Co-ordinator (Sept 06 – May 07), Ruth Wilson arranged individual visits for the Commissioners, to meet a wide range of professionals, volunteers and refused asylum seekers in Leeds. Briefing sessions were set up with national agencies in London, plus meetings with Leeds MPs. ‘Thought experiment’ discussion groups were held with local people in Leeds who were not part of the refugee sector (you can have a go at the thought experiment).

Some 60 people from across the UK attended a day of solutions in Leeds. The launch took place at the House of Commons in March, followed by a feedback event in Leeds. Tandem assisted with the editing of the final reports and the Commissioners’ submission to the parliamentary scrutiny committee debating the UK Borders Bill. Ruth facilitated all the Commissioners’ meetings.

The project was managed by Maureen Grant and Juliet Prager of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, assisted by a steering group of local experts. Hannah Lewis carried out the research.

Useful websites
Asylum Destitution Support Network
Independent Asylum Commission
Just.Fair Refugee Council
No Recourse to Public Funds Network
Still Human, Still Here Campaign


The thought experiment
You’re on a ship crossing an ocean. A day into the journey a stowaway reveals himself. He says he is escaping persecution and had no choice but to sneak out of his country. The captain allows the stowaway to stay on baoard but decides that he must leave the ship at the next port, which is in another country. However, once the ship docks, the stowaway hides again. When the ship is out at sea, he once more goes to the captain explaining that he did not believe he would be safe in the country where they wanted to leave him.

The ship is not due to dock again for another month. What should the captain do with the stowaway?





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