Covid-19 has deepened poverty, deprivation and destitution in disadvantaged communities. Increasingly, Migrant Action is witnessing individuals who are struggling to adequately meet the basic needs of food, education and shelter.
For vulnerable migrants, the need is greater and the consequences of unmet needs are severe. The pandemic has exacerbated vulnerability for those living on the ‘hard edges’ of society, especially migrants who have no recourse to public funds and restricted access to services.
Over the autumn half-term, Migrant Action partnered with Complete Woman and URP-Leeds ltd to deliver hot meals, sandwiches and snacks to over 75 children accompanied by their parents and carers.
The initiative was part of a Migrant Action’s Covid-19 relief in association with the wider community-led national campaign led by the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
Our partnership worked in collaboration with other community stakeholders including Ethiopian restaurant Melkam and the Christ Temple of Worship church. Both provided access and trusted spaces for children, parents and carers to spend time together in a safe and relaxed environment.
More than Just Food
This initiative strengthened local partnerships, supported local business, enhanced social and cultural integration, reduced loneliness and isolation, built new relationships, identified new needs and increased community resilience.
These outcomes underpin Migrant Action’s ‘Strengthening Hands’ partnership, which aims to strengthen grassroots collaboration and tackle social justice and system change. These issues are rooted in the lived experience of migration, social and racial injustice.
Migrant Action is committed to alleviating the impact of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable. As the second wave of the pandemic takes hold, we anticipate an even more challenging winter, especially for the most vulnerable and destitute migrants.
Therefore, through our partnerships, we will continue to offer support to migrants and those with no recourse including food for children and their families.
How can you support us?
You can support our Covid-19 relief and the wider work on migrant rights and justice by donating to Migrant Action via this link https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/donation/migrant-action-donations?fbclid=IwAR3koPJeeVSMoUjmnQ5mEmgsA1LQQcravCOkce8CnLGqjk5cdLlFrINoLTc
If you are passionate about migrant rights and social justice and would like to volunteer, email: email@example.com
As the UK is now moving towards the end of Free Movement (31st December 2020) this update highlights policy updates that will impact on EU nationals residing in the UK.
EU nationals and Employment:
Apply for a National Insurance Number and work in the UK:
Since March 2020, non-UK nationals can only apply for a National Insurance number in England, Scotland and Wales if they have entered the UK on a visa because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
EU nationals can start work without a National Insurance number if they can prove you can work in the UK. They can also still apply for benefits or a student loan.
EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, can continue to use your passport or national identity card to prove they can work in the UK until 30 June 2021.
You can find further information on Gov.uk here.
Applying with an expired document:
The updated guidance on EU Settlement Scheme include information on the extended validity period of identity documents made in response to the COVID-19 by some EU countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Spain. Please see the table below for more details.
|Country||Document||Changes to expiry date|
|Bulgaria||Passport and national identity card||Any document expiring between 13 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 is to be treated as having no expiry date.|
|Croatia||Passport and national identity card||Any document expiring on or after 13 March 2020 is to be treated as having no expiry date.|
|Hungary||Passport and national identity card||Any document expiring on or after 11 March 2020 is to be treated as having no expiry date.|
|Romania||Passport and national identity card||Any document expiring on or after 16 March 2020 is to be treated as having no expiry date.|
|Spain||National identity card||Any card expiring between 14 March 2020 and 13 March 2021 is to be accepted as valid until 13 March 2021.|
France has confirmed that the validity of the secure French national identity card (laminated), issued to people aged 18 or over from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2013, has been increased from 10 years to 15 years. Therefore, any such card is to be treated as having a validity period of 15 years, regardless of the expiry date printed on the card.
For more information on how to apply to EUSS with an expired ID document, please get in touch with the Home Office Resolution Centre: 0300 123 7379
End of the Transition Period:
*Grace period draft regulation
The Brexit transition period is set to end at 11PM on 31 December 2020, after which the UK will officially break with the EU and EU law will no longer apply to UK territories. For the purposes of the EU Settlement Scheme, the government has provided for a “grace period” of six months in which EEA nationals can still apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme without losing their rights. That grace period will end on 30 June 2021, after which EU citizens in the UK who have not acquired status under the Scheme will become unlawful residents and will be considered “late” applicants.
Draft legislation proposals reveal how the government intends to protect (most) of the people eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, but who have failed to do so before the end of the transition period. It sets out that during the grace period, economically active EEA nationals and Swiss nationals will automatically remain lawfully in the UK. They will also be protected if they do apply before 30 June 2021, but their application is unresolved when that deadline passes.
For economically inactive individuals such as students and self-sufficient EEA nationals, remaining legally resident will be more complicated. The deadline for application is still 30 June 2021, and until that day, economically self-sufficient people can stay in the UK. However, according to the draft legislation, if economically self-sufficient people have applied by the deadline but are still waiting for their application outcome on 30 June 2021, they risk losing their status and be found illegal residents in the UK for the period between 30 June 2021 and the conclusion of their application. It is also unclear whether during the grace period itself, they are considered lawful residents or merely granted relief from hostile environment policies, but still considered unlawful residents. Having such a period of unlawful stay on your resume can have far-reaching consequences when trying to apply for visas or re-enter the UK from abroad.
In order to avoid this period of unlawful residence, economically inactive applicants are encouraged to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme early. If they cannot do so, for whatever reason, they are advised to take up comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) before the transition period ends (meaning before 31 December 2020), as holding CSI will protect them from losing their right to reside and become unlawful residents.
Please find more information here.
What does residing lawfully (exercising EU Treaty Right) mean?
In order to be considered to reside lawfully in the UK, EU nationals have to fulfil certain requirements.
EEA and Swiss nationals have an initial right to reside in the UK for 3 months, provided they hold a valid national identity card or passport and do not become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system. Under Directive 2004/38/EC (the Free Movement Directive) they have an extended ‘right to reside’ beyond that period if they are ‘exercising a Treaty right’ as:
- i) A worker , ii)
- ii) A self-employed person,
- iii) A student,
- iv) A self-sufficient
- v) A job seeker, for a period of up to 6 month.
An EEA national who is residing in the UK as a student or self-sufficient person must also have “comprehensive sickness insurance” (CSI) in order to be exercising Treaty rights in those capacities. A self-sufficient person and student must also hold CSI for their family members.
Using an EU ID card in UK:
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can continue to travel to the UK for holidays or short-term trips after the 1st January 2021, without needing a visa.
They will need to show a valid passport or a national identity card if you’re a citizen of either:
- an EU country
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
However, some EU nationals will not be able to use your EEA or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021.
EU nationals can continue to use their national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025 if they:
- Have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Have a frontier worker permit
- Are an S2 Healthcare Visitor
- Are a Swiss Service Provider
Non-EEA family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen can enter the UK as they do now until December 2020.
Please note that all documents issued under the EU regulations will cease to be valid in the UK on the 31st December 2020. This includes:
- Non-EU family member biometric residency card
- EU residency card (blue document)
Further information can be found here.
From 2021-22, EU students will be classed as oversees students and they will no longer be eligible for home fee or student loans. This change will not affect those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Providing support to EU nationals:
Providing immigration advise/services:
Local organisations providing support regarding the EU Settlement Scheme shall ensure that they are fully compliant with the requirements of the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) in the services they deliver. Any basic immigration advice within the Immigration Rules being provided requires organisations to be registered with OISC level one.
If not OISC regulated, organisations must ensure all staff supporting applicants understand the definition of advice and the limits of what they can do without OISC regulation.
The definitions of ‘immigration advice’ and ‘immigration services’ are set out in section 82 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (as amended). Immigration advice:
- Relates to an individual; and
- Is given in connection with a relevant immigration matter
- Immigration services means making representations on behalf of a particular individual:
- In civil proceedings before a court, tribunal or immigration judge in the United Kingdom
- In correspondence with a Minister of the Crown or a government department
Providing non-OISC restricted EUSS support:
If your work is restricted only to signposting or the provision of general information, you do not need to apply to the OISC for registration. Examples of this are:
- Awareness raising,
- Information provision,
- Public events,
- Language support,
- Digital assistance and equipment provision.
However, providing one-to-one immigration advice would require OISC registration.
You can find further information on OISC regulations here.
Support available in Leeds:
St Vincent’s has secured further funding to support EU nationals apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Please contact St Vincent’s directly for more information on how to access support: 0113 248 4126.
Leeds City Council Digital Assistance and ID scan services:
Support appointments at Merrion Hub will resume 19/10/2020. There will be some alterations to the process, however, to ensure we maintain a COVID-safe environment.
The key points are as follows:
- There will be a minimum of a seven day lead time on all new appointments.
- Any documentation required for the appointment must be dropped off at Merrion Hub at least four days before the scheduled appointment (this will be held securely until the appointment date).
- All appointments must be booked through We Are Digital (WAD)
We are Digital contact details are: email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Phone: 03333 445 675 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday, 9am to 4pm).
As we approach September, two volunteers involved in Migrant Action’s educational support project reflect on their experiences of e-tutoring over the summer
The closures of schools as part of the government’s Covid-19 lockdown measures raised concerns that school closures would disproportionate adversely impact the futures of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such children are more likely to attend schools that are unable to offer supplementary online schooling, may be unable to afford textbooks or access internet learning tools. The risk that children from disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind in learning poses potentially long-lasting impacts on their educational and future job prospects.
As a grassroots organisation, Migrant Action witnessed daily the impact of the lockdown and school closures play out in the lives of children and families. In response, it set up the ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative to provide educational resources and learning and befriending support to children and young people. Overall, the No Child Left Behind initiative aimed to prevent children falling behind in their school work and long term development thereby help reduce the widening inequalities in our society.
Here, two volunteers who participated in the initiative, Carys Milbourn and Abi Spring, elaborate on the work they have been undertaking throughout the summer. Migrant Action recognise the fantastic work undertaken by our volunteers involved in this initiative and we are immensely proud of their achievements.
Over lockdown I started tutoring children from two families, my role between the two families varied as I supported one family with Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Maths and the other with A-level choices and discussing options for university. I was able to come up with a surprisingly engaging way of learning Maths by using online games with one family which has helped consolidate and refresh what they have already learnt, whilst also teaching some new skills. With my other family I have provided a friendly face and someone new to talk to as I definitely feel that for young people lockdown is extremely challenging, particularly when you are used to seeing friends every day in school. I have really enjoyed giving guidance on how I got into university and what I have learnt from my past experience doing A Levels. I think that it’s been difficult to adapt to a new way of communicating and teaching online but it has also taught me a lot along the way. A highlight of tutoring has been seeing the children gain confidence every week whilst talking to me and also in their Maths ability. I think that this project has shown that in times of hardship, uncertainty and fear, community is more important than ever. Although social distancing has made contact difficult, online communication has enabled greater conversation and community bonds to grow as people support each other through these strange and hard circumstances.
I was approached to participate in the No Child Left Behind initiative and was more than happy to join in: working with young people has always been something I have enjoyed, and it felt good to feel like I was contributing positively to the community whilst stuck at home in lockdown! I have been conducting weekly Zoom sessions with two children of Key Stage 1 level and helping them with both Maths and English. During our first lesson, I found out that the children had been given workbooks to study with (this is another arm of the No Child Left Behind strategy). I made the decision to purchase the same books that the children were using, in order to help me structure sessions and decide what activities we would work through ahead of time. It has taken a while to adapt to tutoring via the internet- I am a visual learner, so I like to explain things by writing them- but this method does not translate well to a webcam format and resulted in me holding up pieces of paper which was not the clearest way to communicate! However, once I discovered the potential of the ‘share screen’ option on Zoom, I realised that applications like Paint could be used just like a virtual whiteboard, and this has really helped me. A personal highlight of this experience has been seeing the children engaging enthusiastically with the work, as it’s clear they’re both really keen to learn. I look forward to our sessions every week- it also gives me a good excuse to avoid working on my dissertation! I hope the children feel like they have found the lessons useful and gained something from this experience, as I do.
Service user feedback
“Carys was very nice and engaging with me, I found out that we had quite a bit in common and I felt less shy talking to her as the chats went on. She’s also very smart and helpful and funny. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I’d like it to continue.”
“Abi has been fantastic and the kids look forward to the next session with excitement, it has made a great difference, thanks a lot.”
“The laptop has helped us significantly, allowing us to be able to get through work and research comfortably as we don’t have to look on our smaller phone screens, and has also given us the leisure of not having to take turns watching things like Youtube and Netflix on our TV since we now have a second device to watch these things on. We appreciate this gift you have given to us.”
Covid-19 has revealed the staggering inequality in our society reflected. According to research carried out by Sky news, during the lockdown, 43% of children from disadvantaged backgrounds study for 1 hour a day compared to 14% from more affluent backgrounds and 4% of children attending private schools.
Nearly two in three (64%) of secondary pupils in state schools from the richest households are offered some form of active help, compared with 47% from the poorest fifth of families, the study suggests. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52701850
82% of secondary school pupils attending private school are offered active help, with 79% being provided with online classes. https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/BN288-Learning-during-the-lockdown-1.pdf
The most deprived communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the government’s lockdown measures including school closures. The experiences and impact of the lockdown will vary largely based on the child’s environment and the opportunities available to them.
While children from ‘better off’ backgrounds have access to online learning resources, equipment, school and parental support as well as a convenient learning environment, those who are poor and less well off lack these ‘privileges’ therefore disadvantaged in this ‘forced’ home learning environment. Covid-19 has exacerbated an entrenched tier education system whereby children from better-off families are racing faster to the top while those from poorer backgrounds are ‘left behind’ as they race to the bottom.
- Migrant Action has supported some migrant families with IT equipment to help children access vital online learning resources including doing school home work.
- Children has also received some study material (books, toys and pencils) to assist learning and development during lockdown
- Migrant Action student volunteers have facilitated virtual interactive learning with children and their parents. These sessions also provide opportunities for informal conversations which help to reduce isolation and loneliness especially for new arrivals in Leeds who could feel ‘cut-off’ from society.
- Our online family learning support provides a great opportunity for family bonding during these challenging times but also give the volunteers the opportunity to directly engage with migrants and share experiences. As such, the scheme has a broader outcome of mediating social and cultural integration.
- “you have made her day, she is so pleased she doesn’t have to share my laptop with me” — Anonymous
- “Thanks Migrant Action for the books, the kids are very happy today and very busy now [with the books]” — Anonymous