EDITORIAL BOARD Irene Anderson, Principal Lecturer and Reader in Learning and Teaching in Healthcare Practice, University of Hertfordshire Russell Ashmore, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, Sheffield Hallam University Steve Ashurst, Critical Care Nurse Lecturer, Maelor Hospital, Wrexham Christopher Barber, Freelance Lecturer and Writer Dimitri Beeckman, Professor of Skin Integrity and Clinical Nursing, Ghent University, Belgium Jacqueline Boulton, Lecturer in Adult Nursing, Faculty Lead for student mobility, electives and global health, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, King’s College London Beverley Brathwaite, visiting senior lecturer, Middlesex University Nicholas Castle, Head of Professions/ Assistant Executive Director, Hamad Medical Corporation Ambulance Service, Qatar Jothi Clara J Micheal, Group Director – Nursing, Global Hospitals Group, India Emma Collins, Nurse Consultant, Sexual Health In Plymouth, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust Alison Coull, Lecturer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Angela Grainger, Senior Lecturer, BPP University Michelle Grainger, Ward Manager, Moseley Hall Hospital, Birmingham Barry Hill, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University Helen Holder, Senior Lecturer, Nursing Studies, Birmingham City University Mina Karamshi, Specialist Sister in Radiology, Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead Jacqueline Leigh, Professor Nurse Education Practice School Health & Society, University of Salford Joanne McPeake, Acute Specialist Nurse/ Senior Staff Nurse in Critical Care; Honorary Lecturer/Practitioner in Critical Care, University of Glasgow John McKinnon, Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Social Care, University of Lincoln Aby Mitchell, Senior Lecturer Adult Nursing, University of West London Joy Notter, Professor, Birmingham City University & Saxion University of Applied Science, Netherlands Hilary Paniagua, Principal Lecturer/Head of Doctoral Studies Faculty of Health & Well Being at the University of Wolverhampton Ian Peate, Director of Studies, Head of School, Gibraltar Health Authority Kendra Schneller, Nurse Practitioner, Health Inclusion Team – Vulnerable Adults and Prevention Services, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham Geoffrey Walker, Matron for Medicine, Cardiology and Specialist Nursing Services Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Jamie Waterall, Deputy Chief Public Health Nurse, Office for Health Improvement & Disparities; Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham Jo Wilson, Director, Wilson Healthcare Services, Newcastle Cate Wood, Research Fellow, Oxford Brookes University.
A humanitarian crisis, but not in the way you think Victoria Bradley, Community Nurse Specialist, Health Inclusion Team–Asylum and Refugee Services, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (Victoria. Bradley@gstt.nhs.uk)
Certain media sources would have you believe that the UK is over-run by people seeking asylum, with headlines such as ‘10,000 already this year!’There are stories claiming that people seeking asylum in the UK are coming to ‘take our jobs’, while others imply that people come purely because of the apparently irresistible benefits system and desire to ‘scrounge’ (note the absence of crucial context within the stories, ie that these are people fleeing their country due to danger and/or risk to life). I have even seen a story raging about an asylum-seeking family being housed in a four-bedroom house, and watched footage on social media of people arriving on UK shores being met with shouts of ‘go back to where you came from’. It is difficult to articulate how deeply saddened and ashamed this made me feel.
These stories are not only incredibly damaging to entire communities who need support, and who already face several barriers and stigmatisation when trying to access healthcare services, but they are also untrue.What is perhaps more frightening is that some people believe them.
However, in factual terms, in 2020, the UK received 37 550 applications for asylum (Red Cross, 2022), around three times fewer than the numbers received by each of Germany, France and Spain. The reality is that 72% of the world’s refugees live in countries that neighbour their own; proportionally, the UK is home to about 1% of the 27.1 million refugees forcibly displaced around the world (Refugee Council, 2022).What about the financial aspect? People seeking asylum receive £40.85 per person per week, or £5.80 a day (Gov.UK, 2022).
So why would people choose to leave everything they know behind and make the treacherous journey to the UK. Reasons include war, persecution due to beliefs, and risk of abuse or death. In the most basic terms, people take the journey to find safety. Seeking asylum is a human right.
When we start to believe the hateful propaganda, dangerous and inhumane things can happen.The current government ‘plan’ is to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda, whose government will receive £120 million in exchange for housing selected individuals (BBC Newsround, 2022).To be clear, this is not voluntary:
these individuals, currently single men, will be forcibly removed.Their best chance of remaining in the UK is to seek legal aid, but the majority would not have the resources to do so. Charities such as Care for Calais help people with legal aid and, at the time of writing, the charity Freedom from Torture successfully halted the first scheduled Rwanda flight.
The Rwanda plan is problematic: one of the most poignant signifiers of dehumanisation within this deal is the complete disregard for people’s wellbeing. Freedom from Torture has rightfully highlighted that victims of torture – who have been subjected to heinous acts and unimaginable trauma – may be placed on these planes.There is also no thought for the welfare of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers – in Rwanda, same-sex marriage is banned and there is no legislation to protect these individuals from discrimination (Middleton, 2022).These are just two examples of inhumanity.
I work as nurse in asylum and refugee health as part of a health inclusion team. I work in a sector that operates in initial accommodation hotels, providing holistic care to people seeking asylum through nurseled clinics and supporting their social needs through health navigators. It is not a role of utter negativity, there are beautiful moments witnessed between individuals and families, new babies are born, and there is certainly some joy to be found.
However, poor mental health within this client group is rife. In my role, I hear harrowing stories on a weekly, if not daily basis. Although I would never tell their stories on their behalf – they belong to the people who have lived them -- I question whether the general population could truly continue to believe the false toxic narrative about people seeking asylum if they were given the chance to hear these stories for themselves. BJN
BBC Newsround. UK government announces plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. 17 April 2022. https://tinyurl.com/2sjpsfat (accessed 12 September 2022) British Red Cross. Find out about refugees. Refugees facts and figures.
2022. https://tinyurl.com/yckh65tp (accessed 12 September 2022) Gov.UK Asylum support. 2022. https://tinyurl.com/4ja4vfbp (accessed
12 September 2022) Middleton L. Is Rwanda a safe place to send LGBTQ+ asylum seekers from the UK?.2022. https://news.trust.org/ item/20220621115920-uwadt (accessed 21 June 2022) Refugee Council.The truth about asylum – Refugee Council. 2022.
https://tinyurl.com/2kjrxw3y (accessed 12 September 2022)
British Journal of Nursing, 2022, Vol 31, No 17