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09.11.2022 / News /

#SaveASIRT: Immigration legal support charity threatened with closure

“We are concerned that closing the organisation is a bid to avoid accountability.”

Eve Phillips, an immigration caseworker for ASIRT and UVW member

A charity who provides free legal advice to asylum seekers and people subject to immigration control in Birmingham and the West Midlands is closing down, despite being financially healthy, after trustees rejected a request for union recognition by all the staff.

Workers at the Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT) in Birmingham are calling for the charity to be saved, so they can continue providing asylum seekers the legal advice and support they need.

Eve Phillips, an immigration caseworker for ASIRT and UVW member, said: “We are concerned that closing the organisation is a bid to avoid accountability. There is already a significant lack of free specialist advice and support in the West Midlands compared to the vast need for it and to lose ASIRT would have a hugely detrimental effect on the sector and the hundreds of people that ASIRT works with.”

Trustees of the charity have rejected attempts by the workers’ union, United Voices of the World (UVW) to negotiate with them, after the workers’ asked for union recognition and an end to alleged trade union victimisation.

Alistair Robinson, a caseworker for ASIRT and UVW member, said: “Under the hostile environment, migrants in the UK are facing an increasing onslaught in every area of their lives, due to the racist policies set and enforced by the central government. I’d like the Chair of the Board to step down with immediate effect, and for the rest of the board to work with us as we transform ASIRT into an organisation where the service users and staff have a real say.”

The charity is in a healthy financial position according to publicly available data from the Charity Commission.

Matt Collins, a union official for United Voices of the World, said: “The behaviour of the ASIRT board has been horrendous, our members have been consistently met with stonewalling from the trustees, who have refused engagement with the staff’s union despite 100% of staff being members. UVW calls upon the ASIRT board to do the right thing and negotiate with its staff, recognise their union and do anything and everything possible to preserve the organisation.”

Join the Save ASIRT action group to support the workers’ fight to keep their jobs >>

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