Global Development Institute Blog

This blog originally appeared on the Manchester Migration Lab website.

During refugee week, the Migration Lab hosted a newspaper writing workshop that produced ‘Not the Fake News about refuge and asylum. Written in one day by a group of displaced people in collaboration with Manchester-based journalists and migration researchers from the University of Manchester’s Migration Lab, this paper offers real stories of refuge and asylum by the people who have direct experience of these issues and those who research them. It has been delivered to various cafes, museums and libraries around the city and readers are encouraged to pass it on once they have read it. Copies have reached places as far flung as Lancaster and London. 

Stephen Kingston, one of the journalists involved in the project, has written the below article about the paper. It originally appeared in the Salford Star and has been re-blogged here.

Start date: 3rd July 2017

By Stephen Kingston


Recently, journalists from Salford and Manchester got together with the University of Manchester and refugees and asylum seekers to produce Not The Fake News, featuring real stories and facts.

Did you know that there are now less than half the number of asylum applications than 15 years ago? Or that asylum seekers live on £5.28 a day? This publication aims to destroy fake news and get some truth out there.

Over the last six months, the concept of ‘fake news’ has gone mainstream. Indeed, the Oxford Internet Institute – which defines fake news as ‘various forms of propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper partisan or conspiratorial political news and information’ – reckons that, during elections, fake news stories are shared online more frequently than real news.
Nowhere is fake news more prevalent than around the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. So, a few weeks ago, the University of Manchester’s Migration Lab, Pathway Arts and volunteer journalists from Manchester and Salford joined together with local refugees and asylum seekers to get their true stories into print.The result is Not The Fake News, a twelve page paper, featuring real life horrendous stories and absolute facts…

Is Britain A Soft Touch For Asylum Seekers?

Fact: Britain only received around 3% of all asylum claims made in the EU during 2016.

Fact: Asylum seekers receive £5.28 per day in benefits.Are We Being ‘Swamped’ By Refugees and Asylum Seekers?

Fact: The number of asylum seeker applications per year is now less than half the number it was in 2002.

Fact:Seven European countries take more asylum applications than the UK.

Behind the facts and figures, the publication produces interviews with those who are here about their experiences, like ‘Pauline’ from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose husband was killed for opposing the brutal regime…”My family wanted elections and freedom but if they catch you they kill you or take you into detention…they cut hands, arms, slit your neck like chickens…I didn’t even know I was going to the UK…I had no choice…”Pauline had a building business in the Congo, now she has no roof over her head, relies on charity food handouts and has £5 per day to live on while she’s appealing the Home Office refusal of her application…  “They said ‘They killed your husband, not you…” 63% of asylum applicants were refused in 2016.

Another asylum seeker, Angel, who is appealing a failed application, also relies on charities and gets no state benefits, not even healthcare… “I did not come here for jobs and benefits” she explains “I came to seek sanctuary and safety…I am still in the process of applying for refugee status. And once I get that I will contribute to this country.

“At the moment my life is in limbo, and I face hostility from people all the time” she adds “I have voice but no-one listens to me or cares, so I feel like I don’t exist…”

Sabah, another asylum seeker, reflects “These stories they write and our lives are completely different…”

Not The Fake News covers more stories of horrendous housing and the brutal detention centre regime. It aims to fight back against lurid headlines in rags like the Daily Mail and Express, and the Government sending ‘Go Home’ vans around London…

“Encouraging the British public to view asylum seekers as criminals requiring detention and deportation rather than protection further compounds the injustices and horror that the vast majority have been subjected…Britain is far from a ‘soft touch’ for asylum seekers” the publication concludes.