Why You Will NEVER Meet A “Refugee” from the Ukraine Crisis In The UK.
They’re not taking our jobs, our services, our houses, or hijacking our education. We’re hiding them.
I remember learning about bias when I was doing journalism in college and deciding that I didn’t want to be a journalist- yeah, I don’t know what happened there either. And then again in university while I was studying Fine Art; there is a delicate finesse that must be applied to prejudice so it is narrowly skirting the borders between propaganda, patriotism and portraying real life.
The current crisis in Ukraine has given the United Kingdom another opportunity to stand up and say “We’re arseholes” in Boris Johnsons dulcet tones; refusing to take “our share” of refugees as though these people fleeing war are a batch of bad fruit that we have to place in costly storage that we simply do not have. I like a pound in my pocket and a roof over my head as much as the next person…but not at the expense of a human life.
From reading publication after publication, since country wide press has been in circulation, bias has gone along with it with the majority bewailing “the foreigner”. Let us call a spade a spade, Brexit was the 21st century real-life manifestation of a tabloid article in the 80’s: “Them-there brown folks are taking all our stuffs and it ain’t fair”. And much like those articles from the 80’s, it was as much politicised nonsense then as it is now. Only now it has another name: The Pull Factor.
The Pull Factor is the political narrative that puts a government at the pinnacle of admiration; look at what we, the government, provide our people as standard. Isn’t it amazing? Everyone will want to come here. There are three characters in this story; The Great United (sorta) Kingdom that is the lad o’ plenty, The British Public who are receiving wonderful bounty, and The Refugee who wants it.
The result of this constitutional narcissism is that Britain believes it is so amazing, in fact, we want to keep it all to ourselves and then some so best make the place as kindly-inhospitable as possible. By and large, not very British. Then again “being British” is some strange competition in how polite and hospitable you can be while passively-aggressively ensuring that another person feels constantly as though they have outstayed their welcome. A battle of cordial wills. Another example of this is the holding the door open scenario: After you; No, I insist; Seriously, it’s okay; Really, it’s no trouble; LET ME BE THE POLITEST AND GET YOUR F*CKING ASS THROUGH THE DOOR!
Now, by this point, I would be highly mindful that if I step through the door there is clearly some void to some unforgiving hell dimension…I want to go the long way round. And that’s where we meet the other character; The Asylum Seeker.
“But wait,” you say! “They’re, like, the same thing, right?”
No. They’re not. The Asylum Seeker is an Asylum Seeker until they are granted Refugee status. Only refugees have access to public services, shelter, jobs, higher education; the bounty! And who determines if someone is a refugee? The UK government. Refusing Refugees is fine, but as a country of the UN, the UK MUST accept Asylum Seekers. And Asylum Seekers are cheap. And here is the inexpensive, out of the way, unobtrusive contextual twist that maintains the diplomatic cordiality of The Pull Factor.
The back door? £39 a week, hotels, bed and breakfasts, army barracks, detention centres, camps. And a reported 6 month (often averaging at 2 year) wait for a decision on your status in the country; Two years in a prison. They don’t broadcast that as part of The Pull Factor. Neither do they advertise what the living condition of these people is: detained.
My favourite way of looking at a humanitarian crisis is through Maslow. That pyramid of the human support system. It breaks down the basics of human-need in order to achieve “self-actualisation” as a person (a.k.a I am who I am because I am and that is who I am because I am and it is enough for me and everyone else.) To the average comfortable human, the pyramid looks like this:
To those of us trapped or growing fat off the economic system that rewards the rich and blames the passionless poor, it looks similar but something is a bit skewed:
For someone fleeing war to the UK, the pyramid looks like this:
Taking each of these stages on their own, we can look at budget breakdown and services…but that takes time. That takes effort. It also takes disengaging from illegal parties during lockdown…so technically it would be a benefit to any Conservative party member. So, I will do it for you.
There is enough room:
In the UK there are a total of 368,306 registered unoccupied dwellings suitable for occupation.
There are 219,000 homeless individuals who are legally resident in the UK.
There have been 26,903 individuals (including dependents) granted asylum or refugee status in the UK in 2021. I’m not great at mathematics but there are approximately 122,000 homes unoccupied but habitable in the UK…and yet we gatekeep the country because we can’t Orwell them to death.
There are enough jobs:
The job market is booming with an estimated 34.5 million jobs available and an unemployment rate of only 1.1%.
Asylum seekers can seek permission to work after a 12-month period of general seclusion in wherever they have been detained UNLESS they are a care worker (covid) or skilled and educated to fill a role where employment seems to be struggling.
There are enough opportunities for learning:
Bear with me with this one. It’s a doozy for me.
There are 962,638 staff members working in education in England alone. Over 2 million working nationwide. In my world EVERYONE has the capacity to impart knowledge of some description. The fault in schooling here is not the number of teachers vs. pupils. But the direction of curriculum and what we consider valuable learning. Covid prompted education to operate predominantly from secluded environments to keep us and our children medically safe, limiting class size and, SHOCK HORROR, encourage children to manage portions of their own learning and dedication to school. Did we die though?
And the pressure on our services? That is another crudely manifested demon by a government that prizes presents and presence over action and altruism, and you can read about an example of why, being British or not, won’t enable the NHS or police service to save your ass any quicker than it will save the exhausted, homeless refugee or asylum seeker here:
LIVING ON PIP IN THE PANDEMIC
Humanitarianism comes from the true hearts of people; corrupt the heart and you corrupt the motivations of others. Altruism is something that political parties, business funded studies, and economically bias publications spend little money or effort on convincing you that you cannot financially afford. Subtly, gently. But the message is this. Being a humanitarian does not make money; Being a humanitarian country does not make a country money.
So, this article is just a prompt to engage in this crisis on a base level. What can you provide, right now, materially, to an individual in need? A toothbrush, a pillow, a smile, a listening ear, basic teaching and guidance. Something. Because I guarantee you that the next genuine refugee you meet still has the absolutely nothing they arrived here with but a new piece of paper with different words on it.
Read this Mashable article on how you can help with the current humanitarian crisis; stay strong, stay safe.