On Monday, 21 May, Migrants Organise staff, volunteers, members and supporters will be participating in the London Legal Walk, an annual initiative organised by the London Legal Support Trust to raise funds for charities that provide life-changing legal advice and representation to those in need.
Over 30 people representing Migrants Organise will each walk 10 kilometres across the capital to raise money for our Community Programme, which provides holistic support to vulnerable migrants and refugees. Consisting of a mentoring scheme, currently working with 42 individuals; welfare and benefits advice, currently supporting 312 people who are unable to access mainstream services; and various classes and activities ranging from a sewing group to a football club, the initiative aims to ensure that people who have migrated or claimed asylum in the UK are able to adapt and integrate well into their new communities.
The Programme also includes a Legal Support Project, via which a direct access accredited immigration barrister provides legal advice and ongoing casework support to our members. To date, we have worked directly with 236 people, who we’ve supported through a variety of immigration-related issues, from problems with housing to instances of trafficking.
Last year, in response to the many complicated problems faced by our members who suffer from mental illness and often lack capacity to make decisions, we also established the Migrants Mental Capacity Advocacy (MMCA) project. Operating within the Community Programme’s legal remit, the MMCA both provides practical support to help those who lack capacity to access the legal services that they require, and employs strategic advocacy in an attempt to challenge the current immigration system.
Adil, originally from Sudan, is one of the many individuals who we have worked with on a long-term basis. Fleeing war at home, and arriving in the UK in 2003, for several years Adil and his young family was forced to live in poor quality, council-provided accommodation. Amongst the property’s various problems was a faulty fixture which meant that the windows would not close properly and had to be left permanently open. As well as making the house freezing cold in winter, the open window presented a health and safety risk to Adil’s two-year-old son, who could have easily fallen through. With our help – and after a prolonged, two-year struggle – Adil eventually managed to persuade the council to fix the problem and ensure that he and his family had a safe place to live. Now, we’re helping Adil to move to a larger property which will better suit his family’s needs. “Migrants Organise has supported me so much with everything,’ Adil says. “The team is always friendly and helpful, they provide free advice and help support everyone in need.”
One of the defining features of our Community Programme is its provision of long-term, ongoing support to migrants and refugees who are attempting to settle into in the UK and successfully navigate our country’s dysfunctional immigration system. Unlike drop-in centres, we are able to forge proper relationships with our members, thereby maximising the impact of the support we offer. Practical assistance is accompanied by opportunities to engage with others and receive emotional support, reduce isolation, learn new skills, and develop a sense of community – steps that are incredibly important when trying to start life afresh in what for some may be a very unfamiliar culture and country.
With the recent Windrush scandal and the hostile environment that the government is creating for migrants, our work at Migrants Organise is as critical as ever. However, we can’t do it alone and your support for our initiatives is vital. Please do consider donating to our fundraising efforts – through our participation in the London Legal Walk, we aim to raise £15,000 to help us maintain our Community Programme and enable us to continue to provide much-needed support to people like Adil and the hundreds of other individuals that we work with.
To donate, simply click here and follow the instructions provided. Please donate as generously as you are able: all funds will go in full, and without deduction, directly to our Community Programme – and will really make a difference to the lives of the people we support. Thank you.