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. Fact: Britain only received around 3% of all asylum claims made in the UK in 2016.
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 week 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.
To read online copies of Not The Fake News – click here
Print copies of Not The Fake News are available in Salford at the Langworthy Cornerstone on the corner of Liverpool Street and Langworthy Road.
See also Manchester University Migration Lab website for more information – click here