Scare stories are printed with alarming frequency propagating myths about asylum seekers- they’re blamed for higher taxes, rising crime rates, terrorism- and that’s just to name a few.
But where does the truth lie. The facts are these: a typical asylum seeker receives less than six pounds per day to live on; most have substantial education and work related qualifications and were successful individuals in their home countries.
Perhaps most importantly- most have fled their home countries due to serious human rights abuses being carried out and not because they see the UK as the land of milk and honey.
Asylum seekers are invariably catapulted into a complex judicial process and are at the mercy of the system. Many are refused legal aid and are therefore left to represent themselves, often with dire life-altering consequences.
This is where the Manuel Bravo Project steps into the breach.
The project, borne out of tragedy following the suicide of an unsuccessful asylum seeker, has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2007.
Manuel was an asylum seeker from Angola, who tragically took his own life in 2005. After fleeing from his home in Angola, due to attacks on his family following his pro-democracy activity, he settled in Leeds.
At his asylum hearing his solicitor failed to show, leaving Manuel to represent himself, which he did and lost forcing him to return home.
He subsequently took his own life in hope that his son would be able to remain in the country for safety reasons.
The Manuel Bravo Project provides free legal assistance for people seeking asylum. Acting for clients on appeals and on fresh claims and only for those for whom legal aid has been refused, the Project provides a valuable service to those clients who have reached the end of the road with regards legal assistance.
Clients are referred to the project and then seen by teams of non-immigration lawyers whilst guidance is provided by a panel of specialist solicitors or barristers.
In addition, they are very ably assisted by teams of interpreters who volunteer their services to the Project to help with interpreting services or assistance with the translation of documents and letters.
There is currently a bank of interpreters who are able to assist with languages such as Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, French, Ligula, Nepali, Kurdish, Farsi and Dar, to name just a few.
None of this would be possible without our volunteers who give up their time and services free of charge to help our clients in a manner suitable to their individual strengths and skills.
If you are interested in volunteering, the Bravo Project will train and provide you with as much support as possible.
If you are interested in helping the project please contact Legal Development Worker Sabeeha Khan on sabeeha.khan@ manuelbravo.org.uk or telephone on 0113 350 8608 for an informal and preliminary discussion.