500 signatures reached
To: Kenny Chapman, Regional Head of UK Border Agency
Long Walk to Patchway
We call on the Home Office to bring signing back to Bristol city centre and to reduce peoples' signing frequency.
Why is this important?
The Long Walk to Patchway....The Long Walk to Freedom
Many migrants in Bristol are required by the home office to sign in regularly at a police station. Until recently, people reported at Trinity Police Station, near central Bristol. Since 1st October 2014, they have had to travel all the way to the new station in Patchway.
Many of the people signing are applying for asylum in the UK. Only those in receipt of support from the Home Office are entitled to travel costs. Destitute asylum seekers either have to walk all the way (a 14 mile round trip for some) or beg lifts or bus fares.
"I have a daughter aged 3 and she goes to school in Soundwell from 9am till 12. On my signing day, Tuesday, she misses school, because I have to be at Patchway between 10.30 and 11.30. From Easton it takes 1 hour30 minutes each way. It is not possible for me to take her to school in Soundwell, then go to Patchway and return in time to pick her up at 12. So she misses school. When I signed at Trinity Road she didn't miss school, because the journey was not so long."
Students are forced to miss college classes. Disabled people find it difficult to travel to Patchway using public transport.
Furthermore, the majority of people who sign will not abscond as they are dependent on accommodation via the home office, churches or friends and want to resolve their case positively. They don’t want to do anything to jeopordise this even when faced with detention. Making people sign up to weekly seems unnecssary, and degrading.
It is all too common for people claiming asylum to have to wait years and years for their case to be resolved. Many who are initially refused go on to win their leave to remain in the UK. This long wait is due to problems with access to good lawyers, interpreters, a "culture of disbelief" in the Home Office. During this long wait, people have to keep signing every week. Each time they go, there is the chance they will be detained, taken to a detention centre and deported. Signing is a stressful experience for all, traumatic for some.
"Before, I could walk to Trinity in 5 minutes, and I signed once a month. Now I have to sign every two weeks at Patchway. I don't have NASS support so I have no money for a bus ticket (which costs £4). It is 6 or 7 miles to Patchway. I have a problem with my ankle and it is too far to walk.. My friends have to help me to get there. My case is ongoing so I should have NASS support"
E, Ivory Coast
We fear that the difficulty of accessing signing will increase the likelihood of people missing signing dates and this is counterproductive for everyone.