An Aspen Card, as described by Privacy International  “is a debit payment card given to UK asylum seekers [people seeking asylum] by the Home Office. The Aspen Card provides basic subsistence support, but purchases on the card are closely monitored by the Home Office, making it an insidious surveillance tool.”

I believe that changes should not be made if there is going to be major failures. I liken the changes made to the Aspen card by the Home Office to the COVID-19 vaccine. Trials are made but the vaccine is not used immediately until there is 99% confidence in its success rate. With the Home Office Aspen cards, the opposite is the case.

On 21 May 2021, the Home Office basically introduced the change from one Aspen card provider, Sodexo to another, Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) and did not trial it to see how effective it would be. Instead, PFS issued cards en mass to people seeking asylum. This seemed like a trial and is failing in all ramifications.

I would like to reiterate that most people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are given £39.63 a week as subsistence and also not allowed to work till their case is determined. This could take years. The £39 a week subsistence is not enough to cover basic needs. Now most people seeking asylum have not received the new Aspen cards. Where some have received them, there is no money in them. Some of these cards are being sent to wrong addresses or recipients.

This is absurd because this has been going on for weeks now and individuals/families are having to go without food or rely on food banks. More details can be found in the Guarding news:“Thousands of asylum seekers go hungry after cash card problems”

Charities such as African Rainbow Family and other organisations are being overburdened with this issue. These Charities are speaking out but as usual, just like the demands to increase the support, this demand is being kept in a waiting list or queue with the rest of our demands.

I call this inhumane because we should call a spade a spade. I am calling for the Home Office to look into this immediately!

You can make a donation towards food parcels for people seeking asylum here.

A big thank you to African Rainbow Family and other organisations that are supporting people seeking asylum with food parcels. I do urge people to support by raising their voices, donating and so on.

You can make a donation towards food parcels for people seeking asylum here.

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BY NESSAKEM NWOSU – TRUSTEE, AFRICAN RAINBOW FAMILY.