New centre to help vulnerable migrants

Migrant Centre.jpg

A new service for vulnerable migrants in desperate situations has been launched in Upper Street. The New Unity Migrant Centre is supporting people who have faced cuts to legal aid and increases in Home Office application fees. It mainly deals with single and often pregnant mothers who are working full-time around childcare commitments and relying on overstretched friends for support and accommodation.

The Tribune spoke to one woman who had to leave her partner and live with her son in a hostel in another borough. Initially, her local council’s children’s services department would not help due to her NRPF status. Jane (not her real name), who works as a cleaner and has lived in London for 20 years, spent more than £2,000 on an expedited form to have her status lifted, but it was rejected last month. “I felt like my heart had been ripped out,” the 42-year-old said. “I was left with nothing. I can’t describe how it feels. My pay is £600 but my rent is £1,000. I am not sitting waiting for a handout, I just need a break.”

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry visited the centre on Friday. She said: “The forms that the Home Office expect people to fill out are really daunting. I’m worried that migrants and their families are missing out on the basic support to which they are entitled. If the Unity Project can help people through the red tape – that will be a huge help.”

Andy Pakula, minister of New Unity and one of the founding members of the Unity Project migrant centre, said: “This work lies at the heart of New Unity’s mission to promote social justice. The Unity Project is providing vital assistance to some of the people in our communities who need it most. As a non-religious church, we feel privileged to be able to help in this way.”