About One Life to Live

The mission

Refugees and asylum-seekers deserve better than Britain’s hostile environment. 

Working closely and collaboratively with charities, NGOs, local authorities, communities and lawyers, One Life To Live’s objectives are to:

  • challenge public preconceptions of asylum and refugee issues

  • campaign against large-scale accommodation containment sites

  • shine the light on different perspectives within these stories.

The sites

The government is aggressively punishing some of the most vulnerable people in the world – because they sought protection in our country from war, conflict or persecution in their own.

Since COVID, the government has allowed a large backlog of asylum claims to build up. The number of people coming here is NOT unprecedented, but the number of unprocessed claims IS. While their claims are being processed, the government has a duty to accommodate asylum-seekers. This has forced them to use hotels at an outrageous cost of £5.6 million a day.

So they hit on the idea of decanting people into camps. Camps at ex-RAF stations like Linton-on-Ouse, Wethersfield and Scampton – surrounded by razor wire, hangars, runways and guards huts. Former prisons, like the appallingly derelict Northeye Prison at Bexhill. Or the infamous Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port. It’s supposed to be cheaper: it isn’t. And of course the Illegal Migration Act requires the home secretary to start detaining people.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. By processing the claims, the Home Office could end the use of hotels and let asylum-seekers return to communities. Where they had always been, before.


The unwelcoming and potentially retraumatiing entry to an ex-RAF station designated for use as an asylum-seeker containment site
Campaigners protest Home Office plans for an asylum-seeker containment site at Linton-On-Ouse in the summer of 2022

The experience

City of Sanctuary – One Life To Live founder Nicola David chaired a local refugee support group in North Yorkshire for 7 years before leaving to focus on large-scale asylum-seeker sites.

Linton-on-Ouse Action Group was her first experience of such sites in the summer of 2022. As a member of the group, she helped fight off Priti Patel’s pilot containment site at the former RAF station, which would have placed 1,500 asylum-seekers in a village of just 700, 10 miles from the nearest town. It was the wrong plan, in the wrong place, using the wrong process. 

From the outset, the campaign committed to remaining professonal, credible, and evidence-led. It was later commended for refusing to tolerate racism. It took just 14 weeks to force the plans to collapse. The campaign group was united in effective collaboration with Linton-on-Ouse Parish Council, Conservative-led Hambleton District Council, Conservative-led North Yorkshire County Council, and local Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake.

Hand in Hand for Aid and Development – Not long after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Nicola spent a year working on campaigns and digital strategy for this British/Syrian INGO.