Brexit, EU Settlement Scheme and the forced (im)mobility of EU citizens in the UK

Guest post by Agnieszka Martynowicz and Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna. Agnieszka M. is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Edge Hill University. Her research interests include migration(s), criminal justice and human rights, in particular in the context of imprisonment and immigration detention. Her current research focuses on deportations of Polish citizens after their contact with the criminal justice system. Agnieszka R. is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton, where she is undertaking a two-year research project ‘Brexit and Deportations: Towards a Comprehensive and Transnational Understanding of a New System Targeting EU Citizens’ (BRAD).

Originally posted on the Border Criminologies blog. 

The Brexit Referendum of 23rd June 2016 became one of the most defining moments in British politics and social life in at least a generation. Achieving an overall majority of 51.9%, the supporters of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) secured a narrow victory. The UK Government started the exit process at the end of March 2017, developing a host of new policies and legislation to enable the ‘disentangling’ of UK’s current ties with the EU. This includes pursuing a goal of ending the freedom of movement (FOM) for EU citizens into the UK on (or soon after) the exit date.

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RefuAid seminar results in action for refugees

Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, at the Action for Refugees seminar at Edge Hill University.

Delegates to the RefuAid seminar held at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk campus on 20 March were enthralled by the presentations, not least by the moving testimony given by former client Naima, who told us about her former life in Libya and the role played by RefuAid in turning her life around. RefuAid co-founder, Anna Jones, explained how the organisation provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in key areas of access to language support, education and employment.

Dentist and former RefuAid client Naima shared her powerful story with us.

The audience for the seminar included academic and support staff at EHU as well as visitors from the local community. It was particularly pleasing to welcome a number of refugees and asylum seekers on campus.

Immediately following the presentations, delegates were able to engage in discussion with both the RefuAid representatives and Action for Refugees group members. Much of this discussion concerned the practical support that delegates from our refugee community wanted from RefuAid and from Edge Hill University.

Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive with many delegates taking the time to thank the presenters personally for the seminar. One email received from a delegate since the event included the following, “I’m so pleased to be at the university and thank you for the help you have given me.”

Since the event, applications for support from RefuAid have been prepared by some delegates with the help of Action for Refugees group members. Referrals have also been made to other organisations with a view to providing expert support for individuals to gain employment. Plans for future working between RefuAid and the University are being put in place. Action for Refugees is keen that the knowledge exchanged at this event will provide a basis for a fruitful partnership with RefuAid that will reflects principles of inclusivity, equity, and social justice.

Left to right: Naima and Anna (RefuAid), Malik (Syrian Cultural Centre), Kate (RefuAid), Mike (EHU)

 

Community links: supporting refugees in West Lancs

Lawrence Smye Rumsby works as a caseworker supporting refugees in Skelmersdale. Formerly a primary headteacher, he is officially ‘retired’!  Lawrence also plays a key part in ‘Skem International’, a voluntary group formed of members of the community including refugees. Action for Refugees’ links with local groups ensure we are in touch with refugees placed in our community. This is important to make sure that our work reflects their interests and needs.

Lawrence writes:

I started my caseworker contract officially on 1st August of last year, but had been volunteering in a similar role for over two years. My contract with the Council Voluntary Services (CVS) covers 4.5 hours casework with related admin, each week, but there is always more demand than this. In Skelmersdale, two regular weekly events for refugees, Wednesdays (4-6pm in the Ecumenical Centre) and on Fridays (2.30 to 4.30pm in the library) offer an opportunity for contacting me. Both buildings are very central and easily reached by all asylum seekers and refugees, which is important when most don’t have a car or the funds for public transport. Asylum seekers receive approx £35 per week from the government which has to cover everything except housing.

In the first three months I was employed, I dealt with 166 meetings, with 67 separate refugees, from Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Angola, Sudanese, Eritrean, Syria, Jamaica, Burundi, Afghanistan, Turky, Libya, Egypt, Russia & Morocco. Most of those coming to these meetings are young men, reflecting the population in Skelmersdale. I work with volunteers from the community in Skelmersdale to provide a range of support, with funding from the Red Cross to help with volunteers’ expenses. 

There are a wide range of issues raised at meetings. Refugees waiting for a decision on their leave to remain might need help with dealing with the Home Office, for example finding a solicitor, accessing benefits or responding to mail. Continue reading