The visits resulted from regional collaboration with Mary Brandon from the charity, Asylum Matters, which is campaigning to end the ban on asylum seekers working while they await a Home Office decision.
Lift the ban
This is a campaign that the NFU supported earlier in the year, when Deputy President, Tom Bradshaw, signed a joint appeal by 20 organisations that together represent thousands of employers and businesses, urging the government’s Migration Advisory Committee to take action as the number of job vacancies in the UK reached a record high.
"We know that the countryside can have a tremendously positive impact on people's health and wellbeing, but it is hugely rewarding to see just what a force for good if can be."
Rachel Hallos, North East regional board chair
The initial farm visit to see Anthony Bradley came about as he has hosted a number of such visits, working alongside the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust, hoping to provide a change to their usual lives in the city and the chance to enjoy some peace and tranquility, fresh air and a return to nature - especially as many come from rural areas in their home country and often have a farming background.
A great day out
The visit provided the opportunity for some filming with the BBC for their programme to be broadcast live from the Great Yorkshire Show and this prompted the regional team to invite the charity to attend the show and enjoy a day out to remember.
At the show, the group soaked up the sunshine and the atmosphere, loving the farm livestock, horses and huge combine harvesters. Hosted on the NFU stand for lunch, they met regional members including North East regional board chair, Rachel Hallos.
The visits 'meant so much'
During the farm visit, the visitors said the visit made them feel again like their lives actually mattered, after years of waiting for news. Instead of being forced to live how one described as "like a parasite", they said they just want recognition of the skills they have and the contribution they can make to Britain. Like anyone, they want to be able to support themselves and their families and not be a burden. The right to work, they said, would do so much to restore their dignity and help them to feel useful again.
After the Show, Mary Brandon said it was hard to put into words how much the day had meant to the group. Referring to one of the party, she said: "The impact on these people of waiting so long, being separated from family, with the isolation often bringing back painful memories, can really take its toll. Opportunities like this really make a difference. After our trip, one member of the group said it was 'the most important day' in his life. It was the first time he has been able to visit the countryside during the 3 years he has been in the UK waiting for a decision. The trip gave him hope."
A force for good
Speaking afterwards, regional board chair, Rachel Hallos, said it was humbling to see the impact of the two visits for the six men.
"We know Britain's beautiful farmed countryside can have a tremendously positive impact on people's health and wellbeing, but it is hugely rewarding to see just what a force for good if can be. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the group, who showed tremendous enthusiasm and had so many questions about life in Britain, while wanting to share an insight into their home countries.
"Given our need for people to help our food and farming industry thrive now and in the future, I hope the NFU's backing for the campaign to allow refugees the right to work while they wait for a Home Office decision will ultimately encourage a change in government policy."