Parishioners and Jesuits from St Ignatius Church in Stamford Hill, north London, will be joining thousands of Zimbabwean exiles tomorrow as church leaders and MPs call on the Home Office to allow them to work in the UK and acquire new skills. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will join MPs from all parties and leading refugee organisations in asking the Home Office for a two-year discretionary leave to remain for Zimbabweans resident in the UK, as well as job placements and training. Under present laws, asylum-seekers are not allowed to work or even volunteer unless they have been granted refugee status. The rally will be preceded by a service for Zimbabwe at St Margaret's Church (12 noon), opposite the Houses of Parliament, led by Dr Sentamu, and with prayers and music by the Zimbabwean community. This will be followed at 1pm by speeches in Parliament Square by Kate Hoey MP, chairman of the All-Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, the trade unionist Jack Dromey, and Zimbabwean community leaders, as well as Dr Sentamu. After the speeches, a petition will be handed in at the Home Office. Fr Jim Conway SJ of St Ignatius Church explains why he and others from the parish will be joining the rally: "Its aim is to raise awareness of the thousands of Zimbabweans in the UK who are caught in limbo... they can't return to Zimbabwe at the moment but they are still refused permission to work or, in most cases, to receive support from the government because their application for asylum in the UK has been refused." St Ignatius parish is a member of the Strangers into Citizens Campaign Group, which is part of London Citizens, the capital's largest alliance of civic organizations and the organizers of the event on Friday.
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