Help People with Mental Health Issues Live in Dignity after Brexit

19 January 2021
Maymuna Osman

Migrants Organise is bringing a legal challenge against the Home Office, to ensure that the rights and dignity of vulnerable EEA citizens who are living with mental health issues are protected after Brexit. 

With the EU Settlement Scheme deadline just months away (June 30th), tens of thousands of vulnerable EEA citizens, who are already living in the UK, are at risk of being left without any immigration status and plunged into the Hostile Environment, where they won’t be able to reside in the UK or live a dignified life.

We are bringing a legal challenge to demand that the Home Office has a plan to ensure that EEA citizens who are living with mental health issues can secure their status and rights in the UK.

You can help us by donating to this appeal

Why Are We Worried?

Migrants Organise has worked for over a decade to support vulnerable migrants living with ongoing mental health issues to access the immigration system. We have seen first-hand how the Hostile Environment destroys lives.

We are concerned about EEA individuals who are living with mental health issues, and may not have the capacity to fully engage with the EU Settlement Scheme without assistance. These are individuals who are already living in the UK, often for many years. They include elderly individuals with dementia, people with a learning disability or learning difficulty, and/ or other mental health conditions and issues.  

At the moment, the Home Office still does not have a clear plan or guidance on how we can assist them, even though the deadline is only months away.

How Many People Will Be Affected?

Whilst clear data is hard to obtain (as the government does not gather it), we estimate tens of thousands of people will be affected.

Age UK’s research indicates that there are at least 7,700 EU citizens with dementia in the UK. There are also around 4,600 individuals rough sleeping every night in the UK, and in 2018, about 50% of all rough sleepers suffered from mental health issues, and 22% of them were EU nationals.

Many of these will be “hidden” cases – people who are not aware that they need to apply to the scheme until it’s too late.

What Does This Mean For Them?

After 30th June 2021, if they are unable to regularise their status through the EU Settlement Scheme, they will automatically lose their right to reside in the UK and will be unable to:

  • Rent a house or flat
  • Find a job and work
  • Open a bank account and have security
  • Have a driving license
  • Access welfare support and benefits that are essential for people with complex needs (such as a carer and a social worker)
  • Access free NHS care

They will also face the terrifying risk of indefinite immigration detention or removal.

The Home Office Is Not Listening, We Can Make Them

For many months, we and other migrant rights organisations have called on the Home Office to make a plan that is accessible and fair. They have failed to do so. 

On 16 September 2020 Migrants Organise and The 3 Million wrote to the Secretary of State, Priti Patel, underlying our concerns. Our letter was endorsed by 33 different migrant rights organisations as well as a number of elected officials.

Sadly, we have not received any formal response to our letter and up to this point, there has been  very little guidance or consideration given on how vulnerable EEA citizens living mental health issues can effectively access the EU Settlement Scheme.

This has left us with no other option but to resort to legal action.

How to Support

Your donation will help us hold the Home Office to account, ensuring that the UK does not discriminate against EEA citizens on the basis of mental health disability or capacity.  Your donation will help us take up this fight by limiting the financial risk that we are taking by bringing this legal challenge.

Our legal team at the Public Law Project (Christian Davies and Bijan Hoshi) and Garden Court Chambers (Ollie Persey and Amanda Weston QC) are ready.

But, we need your solidarity: any amount donated will go a long way. Please donate and/or share with your friends and family.

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