I met Dawn* recently and knew that she had received some good news. She had achieved “leave to stay” in the UK. Dawn is a customer of Growing Points, a charity that seeks to meet the ambitions of people from excluded communities. Dawn’s ambition is to become a nurse and getting her “remain” will allow her onto the NHS apprentice nursing programme that Growing Points have set up with the help of the Leeds NHS Trust, Health Education England and our referral partner, City of Sanctuary. A real achievement and getting leave to remain (albeit for only 30 months) has taken time and many, many disappointments. How long has this taken? I asked, expecting to hear 3 or 4 years maybe 5; but it’s taken 17 years! Just think what you were doing 17 years ago it was before 9/11, Tony Blair was still PM and George Bush squeaked in with those hanging chads even Tiger Woods was winning….. a long time ago!
And that’s not because Dawn hasn’t tried and she’s not been supported, but there have been far too many frustrated tribunal appearances with arbitrary postponements, solicitors who cared too little to turn up, and confusing and incomprehensible decision-making, to see this as justice being done to a satisfactory standard, far from it.
Anyway, moving on at least Dawn can now start the apprentice programme and as soon as she does she will be paid, and for the first time she will be able to support her family, something about which she is immensely proud (and grateful). And perhaps because she’s on the programme her benefits, all benefits, will be stopped with “no recourse to public funds” Fair enough you may say, she’s got a job, so why not? Well, this process which has worked so slowly over the past 17 years broke into a sweat, cancelled Dawn’s money so that she has now no money and won’t have any until her papers are registered by the end of this week and her DRS comes through so that she can sign on to the course; then her pay will start. So Growing Points has given her some money to tide her over, a payment for which she is very grateful; as she is for the reconditioned lap- top she has been given in order to be able to undertake her studies. But why is it that all this running to support a woman who is clearly ambitious and competent, left to voluntary organisations and why does the bureaucracy work so slowly to prevent this happening and act with such speed when money is to be cut, all of which frustrates and humiliates the recipient? Why not sort these issues out and let people work; it’s what they want to do and what we want them to do…. isn’t it?
Dawn will, I’m sure, overcome all these humiliations and be completely successful in achieving her ambition and be a great nurse; but couldn’t the State be a lot more helpful?
And just in case you think this is all water under the bridge, Dawn’s ID card which recognised her right to remain bears the words “No Public Benefit”; that must make her feel absolutely great!
A case of a triumph of hope over humiliation!
*Not her real name