2019-09-16_The_Big_Issue_UserUpload.Net

(Jacob Rumans) #1
Peaceofmind– Marek’sstory
Marek,fromPoland,hadlivedintheUKformorethan
sixyearsandworkedintheconstructionindustry.He
ƣĪƠżƣƸĪģ ěĪŏŲŃƸżŧģ ŊĪǝÿƫ ᡈŲżŧżŲŃĪƣ ǝĪŧĜżŰĪᡉ ÿǽƸĪƣ ƸŊĪ
ƣĪǢŏƸ ǜżƸĪ᠁ łÿĜĪģ ģÿŏŧǣģŏƫĜƣŏŰŏŲÿƸŏżŲÿŲģ ĪǜĪŲƸǀÿŧŧǣŧĪǽƸ
hisjob.
'ĪƫƠŏƸĪŊÿǜŏŲŃÿƫĪĜǀƣĪƸĪŲÿŲĜǣŊĪƫƸƣǀŃŃŧĪģƸż ǿŲģ
otherworkandaccruedrentarrears;eventuallyhebecame
streethomeless.Hebelievedhewas‘illegal’if hewasnot
working,meaninghewasnotentitledtohousingor
ƫƸÿƸĪ ěĪŲĪǿƸƫ᠇
Buta meetingwithJustRightandSheltersolicitors
changedeverything– theyestablishedthatMarekwas
actuallya lawfulresidentbecausehewasa jobseeker,plus
entitledtopermanentresidencebecauseoftheamount
oftimehehadworkedpreviously.Thankstotheadvice
hereceived– andhisStreetworkcaseworker– hehas
somewheretolive,a job,andpeaceofmind.

B


rexithasthrownthefuturesofthousandsofEuropeans
wholiveandworkintheUKintouncertainty.Beforethat,
ŏƸǝÿƫ ƸŊĪŊżƫƸŏŧĪNżŰĪdzǿĜĪƠǀƸƸŏŲŃƠĪżƠŧĪŏŲģÿŲŃĪƣ᠇
Butknowledgeispower,saysJenAng,co-founderofhumanrights
lawcharityJustRightScotland(JRS)andsupervisingsolicitorfor
żdzłƫŊżżƸƠƣżšĪĜƸ®Ƹƣ//ƸǝÿƣĪ᠇®ŊĪ ŏƫÿƣŰŏŲŃŊżŰĪŧĪƫƫŰŏŃƣÿŲƸƫ
withtheinformationtheyneedtodemandtheirrightsfrom
powerfulauthorities– andtosecuresettledstatusintheUKbefore
ƸŊĪƣĪǢŏƸĜŧżĜŤǿŲÿŧŧǣƣǀŲƫ żǀƸżł ƸŏŰĪ᠇
Ang,42,hasmorethan 13 years’experienceasa legalexperton
asylumandhumanrights;traininginNewYorkoriginally,before
movingtoqualifyinLondonin 2002 thentoScotlandin2008.“I
knowI ama migranthere,”shetellsTheBigIssue.“Ithinkthere’s
somethingtothat,somethingaboutwhyI focusa lotofmywork
aroundmigration.”
JustRightwaslaunchedin 2017 byAngandthreeother
humanrightslawyersasa responsetolegalaidfundingcuts
andgovernmentagenciesstrugglingtomeetcapacitybecause
ofausterity.Importantly,theywanteda waytousetheirlegal
expertisein“cleverer”waysthatwouldreachmorepeople.
AngwascentralinsettingupJRSanditsthreecentres:the
ScottishWomen’sRightsCentre,whichworkswithgender-based
ǜŏżŧĪŲĜĪ᠁ƸŊĪŲƸŏᠵ¼ƣÿdzǿĜŤŏŲŃÿŲģ /ǢƠŧżŏƸÿƸŏżŲ ĪŲƸƣĪÿŲģ ƸŊĪ
¦ĪłǀŃĪĪÿŲģ rŏŃƣÿŲƸ ĪŲƸƣĪ᠇¼ŊĪ ŧÿƸƸĪƣŊżǀƫĪƫƸŊĪ®Ƹƣ//ƸǝÿƣĪ
£ƣżšĪĜƸ᠁ÿĜżŧŧÿěżƣÿƸŏżŲǝŏƸŊ®ŊĪŧƸĪƣ®ĜżƸŧÿŲģÿŲģ /ģŏŲěǀƣŃŊ
outreachcharityStreetwork.Angisthesupervisingsolicitorforthe
ƠƣżšĪĜƸ᠁ǝżƣŤŏŲŃǝŏƸŊŊżŰĪŧĪƫƫ//ᠤ/ǀƣżƠĪÿŲ/ĜżŲżŰŏĜƣĪÿᠥ
ŲÿƸŏżŲÿŧƫƸż ŃŏǜĪ ƸŊĪŰłƣĪĪ᠁ ĜżŲǿģĪŲƸŏÿŧŧĪŃÿŧ ƫǀƠƠżƣƸƸŊÿƸĜÿŲ
ŊĪŧƠƸŊĪŰÿǜżŏģģĪƠżƣƸÿƸŏżŲÿŲģ ŃĪƸŊżǀƫĪģ᠇®Ƹƣ//ƸǝÿƣĪŊÿƫ
helpedaround 150 peopleoverthepasttwowinters.

changemakers.


The thinkers. The creators. The agitators


Illustration

: Matthew Brazier

STREET AWARE PROJECT


Jen Ang


“Setting up the project in 2017 was
really a defensive reaction to what was
happening,” Ang explains. “The Home
dzǿĜĪǝĪƣĪżŲƸŊĪƫƸƣĪĪƸƫǝŏƸŊ£żŧŏĜĪ
Scotland stopping rough sleepers who
they decided didn’t appear to be British.
They were checking nationality against
documents, detaining and deporting
people. We couldn’t stand by and have
that happen.
“We ran fortnightly surgeries in a
Streetwork hub, working with people
ǝŊżǝĪƣĪÿƸƣŏƫŤ᠇¼ŊÿƸNżŰĪdzǿĜĪ
policy was ruled unlawful later in
the year, but we carried on: through
the surgeries, we realised there was
a huge number of people being
ģĪŲŏĪģÿĜĜĪƫƫƸżŊżǀƫŏŲŃÿŲģǿŲÿŲĜŏÿŧ
support who actually had a right to
it already.
“They just didn’t have access to
the information. That knowledge
changes everything.”
The lawyer doesn’t hesitate when
asked what the main barriers are
between homeless migrants and settled
ƫƸÿƸǀƫ᠇ßÿŧŏģŏģĪŲƸŏǿĜÿƸŏżŲŏƫżŲĪ᠁ƫŊĪ
says, because when people become
street homeless they tend to lose access
to their documents or they expire.
¦ĪƠŧÿĜŏŲŃƸŊĪŰżǽƸĪŲŏŲǜżŧǜĪƫÿłĪĪ
which homeless people can’t pay – and
if you can’t renew your passport, you
can’t apply for settled status.“For at-risk
groups, the inability to document their
lives is a very real thing. It doesn’t matter
if you’ve been here for decades.”

People with previous criminal
convictions, however slight, should
also seek legal advice before making an
application – Ang explains that it’s
not a barrier but can be grounds for
refusal “at quite a low level, which is
a worry. You risk someone making a
settled status application and then
actually being served with a
deportation order”.
As Brexit looms, Ang is receiving
an increasing number of concerned
enquiries (which is exactly what
happened in the run-up to the original
March 29 deadline, she says). But this is
good, she reckons: for homeless people,
taking action is urgent.
Next year, JRS will launch its fourth
arm: the Just Law Centre, which will
look at empowering people and
organisations using the law to advance
wider issues of human rights and
equality and making legal education
even more accessible for people across
Scotland. In the meantime, Ang will
ěĪŧĪÿģŏŲŃƸŊĪ®Ƹƣ//ƸǝÿƣĪƸĪÿŰᡉƫ
new settlement scheme law clinic to
ŰÿŤĪƫǀƣĪÿŧŧ/ǀƣżƠĪÿŲĜŏƸŏǭĪŲƫŃĪƸ
the housing and security they’re
entitled to.

Interview: Hannah Westwater
@hannahjtw

Settling the

score for

migrants

FIND OUT MORE
justrightscotland.org.uk
@jenanglaw

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