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Statement from Praxis Community Projects on the news article published by the Observer, "Secret plan to use charities to help deport rough sleepers"

7 July 2019

This statement responds to The Observer article detailing the Home Office's plans to gather information on non-UK rough sleepers through homelessness charities through an initiative known as the Rough Sleeper Support Service (RSSS).

In our work with St Mungo's to provide immigration advice and casework to non-UK rough sleepers, our primary concern is always the best interest of our service users. Given the Home Office culture of enforcement and removal of migrant rough sleepers, Praxis expressed scepticism about the purpose and use of the scheme when we were approached by the Home Office with regard to this initiative. 

As long as projects like RSSS will lack the necessary clarity about the processes involved, and about how client data would be used by the Home Office, we will not refer our service users into any such initiative, and we will strongly encourage our partners not to do so either. 

We take client confidentiality very seriously and do not share information with third parties without explicit client informed consent. 

Praxis' housing service for destitute migrants wins Homeless Link national award for innovation

On 2 July Praxis housing project won an award for the innovative and effective way it supports migrant families and women at risk of homelessness and destitution.

 

The project – run in collaboration with Commonweal Housing – was recognised by Homeless Link for its dedication to supporting people who have traditionally been seen as ‘difficult to house’. 

 

What makes the project unique is its ability to help single women and families who, due to their immigration status, have no access to public welfare and support - this is a consequence of a default No Recourse to Public Funds condition that all too often is attached to people's leave to remain. For thousands, the direct consequences of NRPF are destitution and homelessness. Once residents move into Praxis' houses, they are supported by our housing team and immigration advisors, assisting them in settling in the community, resolving  their immigration issues, lifting the NRPF condition and making sure that they are then able to access mainstream welfare and housing and move forward with their lives. Our residents have also got access to Praxis support and skill based groups. This holistic support model has been a key element in the success of this service.  

 

At Praxis we are extremely pleased that our project has received this important recognition.

 

We would like to use this occasion to thank the Local Authorities that have recognised the value of our service, and have trusted us by referring their residents to this service; Commonweal Housing for being such a great partner; Trust for London, Esmee Fairbain, City Bridge and Big Society Capital, the social investors that have made this project possible in the first place, as well as OAK and Metropolitan Foundations for their support; and our residents, who have formed a wonderful community where new families and single women are welcome and supported to thrive.

 

Last, but not least, this award is a testament to Praxis’ staff members and to their dedication in supporting migrants at risk through our unique holistic support model.

 

Earlier this year, the project’s final evaluation report was released detailing how the project is run, the impact it has had and the potential for it to be replicated elsewhere.  

 

London Legal Walk 2019


Praxis' team will join London Legal Walk for the third time! 

 

On 17 June we will walk together alongside thousands of people supporting access to free, high quality legal advice in the UK. The London Legal Walk has become an annual event and an occasion to raise funds for a vital cause, while taking a pleasant walk throughout London’s most iconic central parks and streets.

 

We welcome anyone who wants to be part of our team, and we don’t have a target on how much each individual team member should raise. However, every pound that you raise will help Praxis in delivering free legal support to migrants at risk who often have nowhere else to turn to get their rights protected. We have set our initial team target to £2,000, but we are hoping to increase it as we raise donations!

 

If you would like to join our team, or know more about this sponsored walk, please write an email to communications@praxis.org.uk 

 

Online donations can be made through this page - please help us reach our target by sharing it through your networks! 

 

 

Praxis Housing Project shortlisted for award


Praxis housing project, providing accommodation to women and families facing homelessness and destitution, has been shortlisted for yet another award. Our project, run in collaboration with Commonweal Housing, has been shortlisted by Homeless Link for the 'Innovation in Housing' category: 

 

"The Innovation in Housing award acknoledges projects that have come up with a different or enhanced housing offer for people who have traditionally been seen as 'hard to house". 

 

To know more about our housing project, and the impact it has on people's lives, you can read this external evaluation report (go here for the executive summary).  

 

No Windrush victim will feel compensated by this bungled scheme

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, promised to make things right by the victims of the so-called Windrush scandal. He now has his chance to live up to the promise – but the much-needed and welcome compensation scheme announced on Wednesday has some potentially serious flaws.

Guidance, which runs to 45 pages, details all the documents that the people affected will have to present to apply for compensation for the hardships they have endured over many years: loss of jobs and income, debt, homelessness, stress, physical and mental health problems, detention and even deportation.

The fundamental problems within the Home Office that contributed to the Windrush scandal in the first place – the disproportionate amount of evidence required, the difficulties of application processes and the lack of support for completing applications – appear to be reflected once again in this scheme. Not to mention the continuing “hostile environment” that generates a culture of disbelief and antagonism towards applicants.

There is no legal aid being made available to provide specialist support to fill in the lengthy application form, help people quantify their losses or track down the evidence required. The burden of proof is still disproportionately placed on the individual. To access compensation, people are again required to provide evidence that might not exist – for example, to prove their attempts to contact the Home Office to resolve the problems that the Home Office was itself responsible for creating. The cost of applications to the Home Office to secure some form of evidence of status – in the face of its refusal to recognise their existing rights – will not be reimbursed, though they can cost individuals hundreds or even thousands of pounds in fees (and debt).

In some cases, the level of compensation will be capped – £10,000 is the fixed sum for having been deported, despite the enormous impact that would have had on someone’s life. In the case of young people born in the UK who were denied the opportunity to take up a university place because of questions about their parents’ status, the compensation will be just £500 – how is this supposed to compensate for the long-term impact of that denial in terms of potential lost career, life experience, social status and earning potential? There are other worrying omissions and caveats in the detail and, most worrying of all, there is no proper appeal process. 

In order to finally right the wrongs of the Windrush scandal, a profound change in Home Office policy and working culture is needed. The operation of the interim hardship scheme – accessed by only nine people, despite the thousands of people in continuing need – is an example that good intentions can fail abjectly in the implementation.

While the compensation scheme is welcome overall, the process must be fair and accessible. As it stands, the new compensation scheme for victims of the Windrush scandal risks adding serious insult to serious injury. 

 

Sally Daghlian OBE, Praxis CEO



This piece has been published by The Guardian
here.

Thank you for your support

Thousands of people have donated to the Guardian and Observer Charity Appeal, raising an incredible £1.1 million which will be distributed between five charities including Praxis. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity, support and heart-warming messages that you sent us during the appeal. The help we receive from you is vital in making sure that we are able to support migrants in the UK, to plan for our activites and develop our services even further.

 

“Every day we see individuals whose lives have been broken by the casual cruelty and indifference of a brutal and complex system. The money readers have donated will help us to maintain our specialist services and reach out to more of those who have been so brutally pushed out.”

 

Sally Daghlian OBE, 

Praxis Chief Executive Officer 

 

Praxis finalist for World Habitat Awards

13th December 2018

 

Praxis housing project, hosting migrant women and families in eight houses across London in collaboration with Commonweal housing, is one of the finalists for the World Habitat Awards.

Through our housing project we provide accommodation to migrant families and women supported by local authorities. We use the nightly rate that we receive from authorities to pay the rent on the properties, fund the housing team and subsidise accommodation for single women who would otherwise be homeless. As part of the service, residents also have access to free immigration advice and support groups provided within Praxis.

David Ireland, the Director of World Habitat, said: "This is a really impressive financial model that provides some of the most vulnerable people in the UK with safe and secure housing"

 


 

 

Praxis selected by The Guardian for their annual Charity Appeal

 

7th December 2018

 

We are extremely excited and proud to announce that Praxis has been chosen by The Guardian and The Observer as a beneficiary of their annual Charity Appeal, for our work bringing the Windrush scandal and the Home Office injustices to light. 


In the next month, the stories of our service users trapped in a complex web of immigration legislation and 'hostile environment' policies will be featured in The Guardian and The Observer. This is a fantastic opportunity to make more people understand the challenges faced by those with uncertain immigration status, and to make Praxis' work known to the public.

It's a great honor to see that our work and commitment to supporting migrants at-risk has been recognized in this way. 

 

Praxis Highly Commended at PR Week Awards

 

PR Week Award highly commended the work of Praxis alongside iMix, JCWI, Refugee and Migrant Centre and Runnymede Trust for our success in uncovering the Windrush Scandal. 

Praxis shortlisted for Third Sector Awards

24th July 2018

 

We are delighted and proud to announce that Praxis Community Projects has been shortlisted by the Third Sector Awards for our work uncovering the Windrush Scandal, holding the Home Office accountable and protecting migrants' rights. 

 

The winners for the award will be announced in September but being shortlisted for it is an achievement in itself and a great endorsement of our work: on the frontline, witnessing the effect of immigration policies on our service users; carrying out legal analysis and recognising trends; and with external communication and advocacy. 

 

In particular, we have been shortlisted for the Charity Partnership Award: five charities part of the 'Windrush Coalition' - including Praxis - have worked closely together to uncover the Windrush Scandal, working with the media and politicians. Our partners in this work are iMix, Runnymede Trust, the Refugee and Migrant Centre and JCWI. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

It's Going To Take More Than An Apology To Put Right The Windrush Scandal

23rd August 2018



The government’s apology to 18 people from the Caribbean who were wrongfully detained and removed from the UK as part of the Windrush scandal is a step in the right direction, but rings rather hollow given the true scale and nature of the underlying problems.

Despite the significant public exposure of its failings - its high error rate, appalling treatment and disrespect of all who come into contact with the immigration system - the government wants to portray the mistreatment of Windrush residents as an isolated incident, rather than the result of a deliberate and systemic exclusion and a culture of disbelief, driving refusal and deportation targets. The suggestion that only 18 people merit an apology is laughable – the government itself is investigating another 164 cases and what faith can any of us have in its analysis when the Home Office is known to have a significant error rate. 

The focus has been on people from the Caribbean but the problem is far wider and deeper affecting many long-term residents from other areas, particularly but not exclusively other Commonwealth countries. Proper independent scrutiny and review of Home Office decision making and procedures is required. We need a properly funded independent outreach programme and free legal advice to help identify all those whose lives have been ripped apart by the brutal system that has been developed in the UK. Many people have been driven onto the streets or forced into a twilight existence. The new Home Office dedicated Windrush Unit is unable to meet the original promise of resolving cases in two weeks, and as people wait for a response they remain destitute, unable to work or find accommodation. Charitable support is what keeps many victims of the Windrush Scandal going in the absence of any interim payments or support.

As yet there is no clarity on the compensation scheme, and here we may have some sympathy – how can a fair price be set for the disruption, ill health and monumental suffering that has been caused. Families ripped asunder. People driven out of their homes.  Jobs lost. Savings swallowed up. Debts incurred. Emotional and physical health destroyed.


Over 2,000 people have now been seen by the Home Office Windrush Unit but those of us in the field know that there are many more affected and academics have estimated that the number could be up to 50,000. Some will not yet know of the time bomb that awaits when they seek medical help or change of job and find that the new ‘hostile environment’ measures are there to ensnare them. The ‘hostile environment’ doesn’t apply just to long-term residents from the Windrush generation: for example, thousands of young British born children entitled to register as British citizens under the British Nationality Act of 1981 are prevented from doing so because they are required to pay an extortionate fee of over £1,000 – these are young people with no rights to work or study, wasting their potential because of government profiteering. The cost of processing applications is significantly less than the fee.

Extortionate fees are pushing many individuals into becoming ‘undocumented’, as are Home Office errors and delays. Without the right paperwork – and that’s what being undocumented means - individuals lose their jobs and homes and often face deportation to countries with which they now have little if any relationship. Meanwhile they are denied services and face detention – in appalling conditions, without time limit or judicial oversight - and at huge cost to the public purse, as well as to the individual. 

This is the context in which the Windrush scandal came to be; the government wants to reduce it to an apology to 18 people – a convenient carpet to sweep the problem under.  The ‘hostile environment’ and the negative Home Office culture are the problems that must be addressed to create a fair system that respects individuals and their rights. You cannot create a ‘hostile environment’ without contaminating the whole of society by creating mistrust, discrimination, exclusion and misery – exposed at its worst in the Windrush scandal.  It’s going to take more than an apology to put this right.

 
 


Sally Daghlian OBE,

Praxis CEO
 


This piece has been published by Huffington Post here.

Praxis and Windrush - a message from our CEO

11th May 2018

 

This has been an exciting time to be at Praxis - we have been at the centre of exposing the Windrush scandal and the impact of the ‘hostile environment’ on people who have lost their jobs, homes and like ‘Albert Thomson’  been denied vital  medical treatment because the Home Office refused to recognize their lawful residence.

 

We first met Albert when he was homeless and destitute due to his immigration status – despite having lived lawfully in the UK for 44 years, he could not access services, as didn’t have the documents now demanded of migrants at every turn. When Albert was denied cancer treatment - unless he could pay £54,000 - we helped him find a solicitor to challenge this.  We also helped him to tell his story to the media, in an effort to get the treatment to which he was entitled and raise wider awareness of this growing problem. Albert was not alone.

 

After Albert’s story was published in The Guardian, there was an unprecedented  wave of public and political outrage. The stories of Albert and many other Windrush citizens were in the headlines and for two weeks the story was the top of the political and media agenda.  Jeremy Corbyn raised Albert’s case twice during Prime Minister’s Question Time.  Praxis was called on for expert comment and evidence based on our knowledge and experience; over the last three years we have helped an increasing number of long-standing residents struggling with similar problems, as changes in policy have left them unable to prove their status.

 

I was pleased to have the opportunity to appear on Channel 4, Al Jazeera, and write in The Guardian and contribute to many articles, calling for a ‘fast, fair and free system’ to regularize long-residents’ status. I spoke on a panel chaired by David Lammy MP at a packed meeting in the Houses of Parliament where Windrush residents told their stories and the immigration minister Caroline Nokes apologized for the way they had been treated. Together with partners and campaigning journalists we have achieved significant change and are pleased that a new Home Office Unit has been set up to deal sympathetically and quickly with Windrush and other long-standing Commonwealth citizens. We are watching how it works!

 

What the ‘Windrush Scandal’ has exposed are the many flaws and cruelties inherent in the current immigration system that make the work of Praxis ever more vital; supporting individuals  caught up in bureaucratic and personal nightmares.  None of this work would be possible without your support. Please keep donating to Praxis, so we can keep pushing for a fair system that treats people with dignity and respect.

 

Sally Daghlian OBE,

Praxis CEO

 

 

 

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