We launched our project as a pilot between June and October 2017. In this period, the project was entirely volunteer-led and made possible by support from local migrant rights charities and the local community, as well as a spirit of learning, empathy and commitment. We are now looking to expand and need your support.
In our pilot phase, we submitted 40 applications. We shared our extensive resources to enable 2 people to make applications independently. The Home Office typically takes over 6 months to make decisions, so we also followed up each of these applications.
We received 12 responses within 5 months - a relatively short time period - and 10 of these applications were successful. We are resubmitting the two applications which were not.
We gave detailed immigration advice to 50 migrants in urgent need, including in some instances advising alternative routes to settlement. We referred 5 more complex cases to law centres or pro bono lawyers. We submitted 2 subject access requests to the Home Office for further details to enable visitors to make more informed decisions about their options.
We collaborated with Project 17 and liaised with several London councils to help 23 people overcome barriers to accessing the social services support that they are legally entitled to.
We advised all our visitors on their entitlement to child benefit. We directed many people to good quality housing, benefits and debt specialists local to them, as well as support groups that we trust.
We gave everyone information about channels to tell their stories, whether for policy campaigning or public awareness.
We were inclusive to volunteers of many ages and backgrounds – our eldest volunteer is proudly 78! We strove to find a role for everyone dedicated to helping and learning, including cooking, childcare and welcoming, as well as casework. We provided 2 full training days. We also raised awareness of the issues these migrants face among the New Unity community.
We cooked lunch for around 40 people each week, relying on generous donations from local businesses. Any leftovers were given to people to take away or donated to a neighbouring refugee advice centre.