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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Asylum seeker support: Food but no hair cuts, bus tickets

Source: Leicester Mercury

A group which helps asylum seekers has sent a petition to the immigration minister after a change in the rules on food vouchers.

Since July 1, asylum seekers with an Azure card have been forbidden from buying supermarket gift cards.

The cards – for people who are appealing a failed asylum claim or who have agreed to return to their country of origin but are unable to do so – replaced a voucher or supermarket gift card system in February.

Asylum seekers could swap the vouchers in exchange but can now only use the cards' £35 credit per week in supermarkets.

Bessie Hayes, from Leicester City of Sanctuary said the changes were cruel.

She said: "It's already become a huge problem.
"These cards can only be used in the supermarkets so if someone needs a few pounds for the bus or to have their hair cut they can't do that now.

"One woman had to walk from Beaumont Leys to the city centre with a broken ankle because she had no access to money for the bus.

"We've managed to pair up some volunteers with asylum seekers so they can go shopping together and use the card to pay for some of the other person's items in exchange for money."
The group collected a petition containing 142 signatures urging that the rules be changed, which has been sent to immigration minister Damian Green.
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