ASYLUM seekers are pleading with the UK Government for the opportunity to work after a review said there were "no further changes" needed to current rules, banning them from the workplace.

Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation that campaigns for refugee and asylum seekers' rights is supporting a nationwide campaign called "Lift the Ban" which would see asylum seekers be able to work after six months of lodging an initial claim for asylum.

Vincent, who is a volunteer with the campaign in Glasgow, is keen to get back into the workplace after arriving in the UK three and a half years ago. He said: "I wanted to work and I've been working all of my life.

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"I thought: okay I will come here and I will work. I applied to the Home Office. I want to work, I want to contribute but I am not allowed."

Vincent has a master of business administration in marketing but has been able to volunteer to get experience and to keep himself busy. He was also able to get enrolled on a business course at the City of Glasgow College, but he has admitted not working has affected his mental health and his ability to provide for his family. He added: "I was really in a depression. We used to get £156 per week. We only could afford basic needs. We were not able to afford our kids' clothes.

"During the Beast from the East my son did not have proper shoes. My son's shoes were worn out. We were looking for shoes for him but they were so expensive and I had to carry him on my shoulders because he was freezing cold. Somehow we managed. I was crying internally because I was not able to buy him proper shoes.

When Vincent's children see their school friends wearing certain clothes or shoes, he has to "give them different stories" every time they ask for them or it is their birthday as to why they cannot give them the clothes they want or a birthday party like other children.

"If we are allowed to work we can benefit society and we can pay our taxes.

Pinar Aksu from the Maryhill Integration Network said "We have so many people who have not been able to work for ten years, fifteen years.

Glasgow Times: 26-year-old Pinar Aksu

"There is a huge gap when people go to the job market and there again is another discrimination. What we need is skilled people or people who have had some training. We have many people who are accountants or are in the social care sector who are willing to work and contribute to the economy but unfortunately they are banned from working.

"It will improve people's wellbeing and mental health - that's key for us. It will make people part of communities is what we are thinking. It will contribute towards integration rather than people being left out. People will be able to mix on various platforms and become part of the community. People will be independent, not dependent. People are dependent on organisations that offer support. It is not a dignified way of life."

Under current rules, asylum seekers are not able to work. But following campaigns from the likes of Lift the Ban and some Conservative MPs, there was a review undertaken into the Home Office policy. But last Wednesday, immigration minister Tom Pursglove said that the restrictions had to remain in place in order to “reduce pull factors to the UK, and ensure our policies do not encourage people to undercut the resident labour force."

Glasgow Times: Tom Pursglove MP at Derwentside IRC Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

The Lift the Ban campaign estimated allowing asylum seekers to work could contribute £42 million to the British economy, however, the Home Office review disputed this figure.

Mr Pursglove added: “In light of wider priorities to fix the broken asylum system, reduce pull factors to the UK, and ensure our policies do not encourage people to undercut the resident labour force, we are retaining our asylum seeker right to work policy with no further changes."

However, Vincent warned that people seeking asylum do so because they have no other choice. He said: "I came here to keep myself and my family safe. I haven't seen my parents for years. We come for sanctuary."