Both the government and the refugee advocacy sector are calling for more safe routes for people seeking asylum to enter the UK. But tens of thousands of refugees continue to arrive by unsafe means every year because they are unable to access safe passage. The current UK refugee and asylum system affords different rights and services to refugees’ and asylum seekers’ depending on how they arrive in the country. Those who apply for asylum in country, often after taking perilous journeys across the English Channel, have fewer rights and limited access to government support than those who arrive via country-specific safe routes. The Illegal Migration Bill currently being debated in Parliament aims to make it impossible to claim asylum in the UK if you enter the country via irregular means.
For the next conversation in our series ‘Voices from a broken system: Rethinking refugee integration in the UK’, we will focus on how to ensure safe passage for refugees from different countries looking to find sanctuary in the UK. How can we create more safe routes that are fairer, based on refugees’ needs for protection, and improve long-term integration outcomes? And, how can we be confident those who come here are in need of protection? These are the questions that we will be exploring along with our panel of policymakers, politicians and campaigners.
Martine Dennis – Martine is a senior international news anchor, journalist, moderator. She went to Keele University and earned a BA(Hons) in English and American Studies (1979-82). After completing her training at Independent Radio News in London, Martine went to New York where she covered the United Nations for BBC World Service Radio. She returned to London in 1987 to present the BBC World Service flagship Africa news programme, Focus on Africa. Martine joined Sky News TV in 1989, where she produced, reported and then became a news anchor. She anchored BBC World News TV from 1995 until 2014 when she went to Al Jazeera in Doha where she was Principal Presenter until 2020.
On the panel:
Jacqueline Broadhead – Jacqueline is the Director of the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity, at the University of Oxford, managing knowledge exchange and research projects which aim to promote the reciprocal sharing of expertise among academics, policy makers, and practitioners. Jacqui’s own work focusses on local government and integration, including leading ‘Inclusive Cities’ – a network of 12 UK cities focussed on improving integration outcomes. Jacqui previously worked in local government – leading one of the first programmes to accept refugees through the Syrian VPRS Scheme in 2015. She is a trustee of Justice Together Initiative, aiming to improve access to immigration advice and a Commissioner on the Commission for the Integration of Refugees.
Lord David Blunkett – David Blunkett was awarded a peerage in the dissolution Honours List in 2015, taking the title of Lord Blunkett, of Brightside and Hillsborough in the City of Sheffield. David was Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 1987-2015, and a member of Tony Blair’s Cabinet for eight years from 1997. He served as Education and Employment Secretary, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. David is currently a Professor of Politics in Practice at the University of Sheffield, Chair of the Board of the University of Law, Chair of the Advisory Board to FutureLearn, Chair of the Heathrow Local Recovery Forum and involved in a range of voluntary and charitable organisations locally and nationally.
David Goodhart – David is the Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration, and Integration Unit, and Director of the Integration Hub website. He is a former Director of Demos, and former Editor of Prospect magazine, which he founded in 1995. David is a prominent figure in public debate in the UK, as a well-known broadcaster, author, commentator, and journalist. He has presented several BBC Radio 4 Analysis programmes. Before Prospect, he was a correspondent for the Financial Times, including a stint in Germany during the unification period. In 2013, he published The British Dream, a book about post-war multiculturalism, national identity, and immigration. It was runner up for the Orwell Book Prize in 2014. In 2017 he published The Road to Somewhere: The new tribes shaping British politics, about the value divides in western societies, which was a Sunday Times best-seller.
Enver Solomon – Enver joined the Refugee Council as Chief Executive in December 2020, following nearly three years as CEO of Just for Kids Law, a charity providing youth support and legal representation to children and young people facing adversity. He holds a wealth of experience in the charitable sector, including senior roles at the National Children’s Bureau, The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and the Prison Reform Trust. Prior to working in the voluntary sector he was a BBC journalist for ten years. Enver has been on advisory boards for the Department of Education, HM Inspector of Prisons and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner as well as chairing a number of cross sector coalitions including the End Child Poverty Campaign and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice. Enver served for five years as Chair of Trustees at the charity Asylum Aid and was a founding trustee of the charity British Future. Enver is proud to be the first CEO in the organisation’s 70 year history who is from a black and minority ethnic background.