Students give free haircuts to asylum-seekers

Hair and Beauty students at Liverpool Community College  ran a pampering day for asylum seekers living in poverty in the city.

After hearing that people who have come to Liverpool in search of safety often experience poverty and homelessness, students at Liverpool Community College on Duke Street decided there was something they could do to help. On Tuesday 24 February, they opened the doors to their training salon to offer free haircuts and relaxation treatments for people seeking asylum.

“It’s very important the students of Liverpool are showing how much they welcome us” said Alhagi, a refugee from Gambia, who chairs Liverpool Asylum and Refugee Association (LARA). “This gives us courage and hope in life. On behalf of LARA and all the asylum seekers and refugees in Liverpool, we would like to thank the students of Duke Street for what they are offering us.”

“I am proud to be a councillor in one of the most welcoming of cities: Liverpool, a City of Sanctuary,” said Ruth Hirschfield, Childwall Ward Councillor and member of Mayor Anderson’s Action Group on Fairness and Social Inclusion.

“It is very heartening to see young students at Duke Street College offering a day of ‘pampering’ to asylum seekers here. The asylum seekers I have been privileged to meet have often endured unspeakable injustice in their home countries and only wish to be active and contributing members of British society.In contrast to the kindness shown by the youngsters, the way in which so many asylum seekers, who have so much to offer, have been treated by some of the UK authorities is, quite frankly, difficult to comprehend.”

• People seeking asylum have come to Liverpool after fleeing their home countries – places like Syria, Iran and Somalia – due to conflict and persecution. After arriving in the UK they are sent to live in towns and cities across the country as part of the Home Office’s dispersal policy.

• People seeking asylum in Britain are not allowed to work to support themselves. A single adult receives £5.23 a day to cover all basic necessities, including food, toiletries, clothes, travel to immigration reporting centres, and any phone calls to legal representatives. In some cases, this is not given in cash but via a pre-paid card known as the Azure Card.

“Many asylum seekers are not able to get access to cash; the only support they rely on from the Home Office is the Azure Card, which allows the holder to purchase food items only. The Azure Card cannot be used for haircuts or to pay for transport either” explained John Parker (not his real name), an asylum seeker who received a free haircut.

• When a person’s case for asylum has been refused they lose their Home Office support and accommodation altogether and are made destitute as they are expected to leave the UK.

“Yet Home Office decision making can be unreliable and many people in this situation remain too fearful to return home” explained Estelle Worthington from Regional Asylum Activism. “Living with such uncertainty is distressing and demoralising, so the chance to get a free haircut or relaxation treatment today provided a much needed emotional boost for the asylum seekers who came down to the College.”

 

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