written by Sophie Beech
In May 2021, SLRA secured funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA) to work in partnership over the next twelve months with local homelessness support services to provide immigration advice to homeless and vulnerable non-EEA nationals, and to strengthen relationships between homelessness services and immigration advice providers.
SLRA recognizes how vital access to free, high quality immigration advice is. We’ve met many clients who have never received immigration advice, due to high solicitors’ fees and lack of legal aid funding, and many clients have been poorly represented or given improper advice, leaving clients to struggle with navigating the complex and bureaucratic immigration system.
The Covid-19 pandemic both exacerbated and highlighted the number of homeless migrants there are in our community, and the funding has come at a critical time. By working in partnership with homelessness services, we aim to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable in our communities and be able to provide free, quality immigration advice to help them to regularize their status and move out of homelessness.
We’re now six months into the programme and we’re happy to say that we’ve successfully set up partnerships with some great local homelessness services, who are providing invaluable work in reaching clients. Our partners are Glassdoor, Ace of Clubs, Robes Project, Crisis and Thamesreach (Croydon.) We’ve been taking lots of referrals for clients with complex immigration cases, many of them have been vulnerable asylum-seekers in need of legal advice on their case, and we’ve also been working with several survivors of domestic violence, and people with histories of exploitation and abuse.
Our Homelessness Project Manager has been working on developing training for partner organizations around a variety of issues affecting our client groups, which will be delivered mid-October. We hope that through this project, we will be able to successfully advocate for increased funding for immigration advice in the borough, and will create strong partnerships with local statutory and non-statutory services and homelessness support services to effectively reach vulnerable clients and provide services.