When prejudice commands, reason is silent.”

“My disability is that I cannot use my legs. My handicap is your negative perception of that disability, and thus of me.”

Eradicating FGM: Don't cut your daughters' bodies

Diversity Living Services (DLS) is running monthly participatory forums with Enfield refugee and migrant women and girls and campaigners to discuss and explore the issues of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

This project aims to:

· -Increase knowledge and awareness of the risks and negative impacts FGM on women and girls

· -Agree and adopt strategic actions and approaches from the community about ways to fight against FGM

The forums will cover a range of FGM related topics including health, access to services and the law in relation to FGM, safeguarding Children, etc.

Women and girls suffering from FGM or at risk of FGM will have access to face-to-face advice sessions including referral to appropriate treatment and counselling services.

If you are worried about someone who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, join our workshops or call us on 02088036161 for confidential advice.

When and how to attend:

The January 2017 forum will take place on 09/01/2017 from 11 am to 1pm. Then from February 2017, the forums will take place on every first Monday of each month from 11 am-1pm.

If you plan to attend the worships, please book your place by calling 02088036161 or email eradicatefgm@diversityliving.org

Venue:

Edmonton Shopping centre

First Floor

54-56 The Market Square

Edmonton Green

London N9 0TZ

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dealing with School Exclusion

Posted on by Action for Social Integration
 
How to deal with your child`s permanent exclusion from school? The government`s guidance on the law on exclusion states that a child can only be permanently excluded from school if they have “seriously broken the school`s behavioral policy or if it would seriously harm the education or welfare of themselves or others if they stayed at school”.
! Remember, the following are not considered legitimate reasons for exclusion: poor performance at school, failure to provide homework, breaking appearance rules, being late for classes, minor incidents caused in protection from bullying, truancy or pregnancy.

! Remember, if you decide to apply to a new school, your child cannot be refused a place because of previous exclusions, unless s/he has had two previous exclusions in the last 2 years.
How to challenge your child`s exclusion?
If you child has been excluded permanently from school, you have the right to challenge her/her exclusion by making representations to the school governors. If you fail to reach an agreement, the next step you can take is to appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel. Displayed below is a short outline of the procedure you need to follow for appealing to the school governors:
1.     Prepare and send a letter requesting a meeting with the school governors. Once you let the governors know that you wish to meet them, they are be required to meet you within 5-16 school days of the exclusion.
(In order to acquire a sample letter for requesting a meeting with the school governors, please contact the newsletter editor on editor@agsi.org.uk)
! Remember to always keep copies of all your correspondence
2.     Prepare a Summary of your case to read out to the governors at the meeting. This Summary can be used again if you need to present your case to the Independent Appeal Panel, has your appeal with the school governors been unsuccessful. Collect as much evidence relating to/challenging the reasons for exclusion as possible, as well as evidence relating to the exclusion procedure. The following is an example of an evidence relating to the exclusion procedures which can be particularly helpful in your case:
! If your child`s exclusion follows from an incident related to discrimination or bullying, and your child belong to the category of children “at risk within the education system” (minority ethnic groups, asylum seekers and refugees, pregnant schoolgirls or teenage mothers, looked after children), you should enquire if the school has taken account of this. What actions has the school taken to help your child manage their behaviour? Has the school requested advice on dealing with your child`s behaviour, etc. Note this down in your Summary.
(In order to acquire a sample Summary, please contact the newsletter editor on editor@agsi.org.uk)
The governors must let you know of their decision in writing within 1 school day of the hearing.
! Remember, your child should receive work from the school for the first 5 days of the exclusion and the school should arrange for it to be marked.  From the 6th days, the Local Authority must provide suitable full time education for your child.

! Remember, it is very important that your child stays at home during school hours in the first 5 days of exclusion. If s/he is found in public space without a good reason, you might be fined with £50.
 

Our Free GCSE Tutoring Service (Enfield, Barnet and Haringey)

Posted on July 12, 2010 by Action for Social Integration

Action for Social Integration is a registered charity organization which aims to relieve poverty and advance the social and cultural integration of minority communities from all ethnic backgrounds.  We provide FREE educational advice, GCSE tuition, guidance and information to young people from black minority ethnic (BME) background. We work with families and schools in Barnet, Haringey and Enfield to fight against child poverty and raise the educational attainment of children from BME communities.
§  YOU CHOSE THE LOCATION
§  YOU CHOSE THE TIME
§  YOU CHOSE BETWEEN ONE-TO-ONE OR GROUP SESSIONS WITH AN EXPERIENCED TUTOR
§  WE WILL THEN ARRANGE THE GCSE SESSION ACCORDING TO YOUR PREFERENCE
Action for Social Integration also offers the following services:
§  Free advice, guidance and information on education for parents and pupils from all ethnic backgrounds
§  Training and work experience opportunities
§   Support for pupils and parents with filling in documents, contacting schools, writing letters to local authorities, translating documents, opening email accounts, accessing training, etc

To receive up-to-date information on our services and free advice on education in the UK please register to our Equal Education Advice Newsletter by emailing your contacts to editor@afsi.org.uk

Advice for young mums under 16

Posted on by Action for Social Integration
Being a parent for the first time is a life changing experience for anyone, irrespective of their age, occupation, income, race or background.  Parenthood often requires taking proactive steps such as undertaking further training or education to improve your life chances and your child`s opportunities.  This article is designed to inform young mothers under the age of 16 about the services and advice opportunities that exist in their support. 
Legal rights and responsibilities
Any young parent under 16 has the same legal rights and responsibilities towards the child as any other parent.
Benefits and Tax Credits
Because of your age, you may not be legally eligible to claim benefits by yourself and may need to get claims done on your behalf, for example, by your mother.  If you live with your parents and they are claiming Child Tax Credit, both you and your child can be included in the claim. Your parents may also be able to claim a Social Fund Sure Start Maternity Grant for you and your child (however this is subject to change due to the new coalition government). To find out if you are eligible and how to apply, please follow this link.
Your parents can also include you and your child in their claim for Housing Benefit, if they claim one.
! Remember, it is best to remain at home as you may need to be at least 18 years old in some councils in order to be placed on the housing list and with a new born baby you need all the support and help you can get!
Another benefit available to you as a young mother is the Child Benefit which you can claim once the baby is born. Any parent who is bringing up a child can apply under this scheme, irrespective of their age. To apply please find in and print out the following application form and post it (along your child`s birth certificate) to: Child Benefit Office (Washington), Freepost, NEA 10463, PO Box 133, Washington NE38 7BR. For further assistance you can call the Child Benefit Helpline number: 0845 302 1444.
Benefit claims in these circumstances can be complicated and you or a parent should seek advice from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB go on their website on:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Vouchers for free milk, fruit and vegetables
If you are at least ten weeks pregnant, your parents can get vouchers for free milk, fruit and vegetables for you. It doesn’t matter what their income is.
Once you have had the baby, your parents can continue to get vouchers for you only if they get:
§  Income Support
§  income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
§  income-related Employment and Support Allowance
§  Child Tax Credit and have an annual income below a certain amount.
For more information on benefits for maternity and children, please visit this link.
Education
As a young mother under 16 you still have legal right to an education.  This means that your Local education authorities must ensure that you receive an education either through home tutoring, going to a special unit for teenage mums or additional support.  Please check with your local authority or click on the link below:
You are entitled to free education up until you are 18 years old or you can receive still receive free education after that if you are on benefits.
Housing
As a young mother you will not normally be able to obtain privately rented or council accommodation because you are too young to be granted a tenancy. However, you can contact the local authority social services department and ask it to find you accommodation, as long as your parents agree.
If you have housing problems you should consult an experienced adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau which can be found through: www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Maintenance
As a young mother, you can apply to the Child Support Agency for a maintenance assessment to be carried out in respect of your child. This applies if you are not living with the father of your child.  For more information visit the Child Support Agency website at: www.csa.gov.uk.
Where can young mothers under 16 find advice, guidance and support?
Baby Centre
Pregnancy and parenting website
Direct.Gov.
Sexual Health and Preventing Pregnancy
NHS
Pregnancy Section
 This article has been published in Issue 5 of Action for Social Integration’s Community Advice E-Newsletter, August 29th 2010

Dealing with Domestic Violence

Posted on by Action for Social Integration
Don't let your immigration status prevent you from reporting domestic violence!
An act of domestic violence is any act of “threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are in a relationship, or between family members” (Home Office). Remember that while most often domestic violence takes the form of direct physical or sexual assaults (beating, hitting, kicking, etc.), it can also include acts of emotional abuse (bullying and humiliation, exercise of control over money or information, etc.). Any of the following could be an incident of domestic violence: beating, threats of harm, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, financial control.

Women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds are particularly vulnerable in cases of domestic violence: they are less likely than other women to seek protection and support due to concerns with their immigration status, emotional and financial reliance on the abusive partner or fear of deportation (especially when their immigration status has not been confirmed).

!Remember that whatever your immigration status is you are ALWAYS entitled to protection just like any other woman in the UK.
!Remember that whichever organization you decide to contact for advice or assistance, the information you share will always be entirely confidential.
Don`t let your financial situation stop you from seeking support and protection!
If your immigration status prevents you from claiming state benefits or taking on paid work, this makes you more dependent on your partner. Yet, you need to know that there are charity organizations which will provide you with accommodation and financial support even if you cannot use public funds. To enquire about them:
Call the FREE 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline- 0808 2000 247
Email the national domestic violence charity Women`s Aid: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

If you no longer feel safe at your home environment, ask these organisations to refer you to a “refuge”. Refuge is a safe house (with a confidential address and no access for men) for women and children escaping domestic violence: http://refuge.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/refuges/. Discuss your situation with an adviser from the Refuge organisation by calling 7700 020 7395 or emailing info@refuge.org.uk
Alternatively, you may prefer to remain at home but restrict your partner`s access to it through an “occupation order”: an occupation order may deny your partner`s right to return to and occupy your property. Call the Women`s Aid Groups, Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau to enquire how you can make an application for an “occupation order”:
            Find your local Law Centre
            Find your local Citizens Advice Bureau
Don`t let language barriers stop you from seeking support and protection!
Many organizations that work with victims of domestic violence have access to interpreters or employ staff who speaks a variety of languages!
 
Don’t let concerns with your culture, ethnicity or religion stop you from seeking support and protection!
Anyone could become a victim of domestic violence, disregarding of ethnicity or religion. Once you have contacted the Women`s Aid organization, you may ask your adviser to refer you to organizations where you can get support from women from the same cultural, ethnic or religious group as yourself.

For more practical guidelines prepared specifically for victims of domestic violence with insecure immigration status, check Women`s Aid “Domestic Violence Survivors Handbook”

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Education Advice

Category Archives: Education Advice

Action for Social Integration is a registered charity organisation which aims to relieve poverty and advance the social and cultural integration of minority communities from all ethnic backgrounds.  We provide FREE educational advice, GCSE tuition, guidance and information to young people from black minority ethnic (BME) background. We work with families and schools in Barnet, Haringey and Enfield to fight against child poverty and raise the educational attainment of children from BME communities.

§  YOU CHOSE THE LOCATION
§  YOU CHOSE THE TIME
§  YOU CHOSE BETWEEN ONE-TO-ONE OR GROUP SESSIONS WITH AN EXPERIENCED TUTOR
§  WE WILL THEN ARRANGE THE GCSE SESSION ACCORDING TO YOUR PREFERENCE 

 Action for Social Integration also offers the following services:
§  Free advice, guidance and information on education for parents and pupils from all ethnic backgrounds
§  Training and work experience opportunities
§   Support for pupils and parents with filling in documents, contacting schools, writing letters to local authorities, translating documents, opening email accounts, accessing training, etc

To receive up-to-date information on our services and free advice on education in the UK please register to our Equal Education Advice Newsletter by emailing your contacts to editor@afsi.org.uk



How to deal with your child`s permanent exclusion from school?
The government`s guidance on the law on exclusion states that a child can only be permanently excluded from school if they have “seriously broken the school`s behavioural policy or if it would seriously harm the education or welfare of themselves or others if they stayed at school”.
! Remember, the following are not considered legitimate reasons for exclusion: poor performance at school, failure to provide homework, breaking appearance rules, being late for classes, minor incidents caused in protection from bullying, truancy or pregnancy.

! Remember, if you decide to apply to a new school, your child cannot be refused a place because of previous exclusions, unless s/he has had two previous exclusions in the last 2 years.
How to challenge your child`s exclusion?
If you child has been excluded permanently from school, you have the right to challenge her/her exclusion by making representations to the school governors. If you fail to reach an agreement, the next step you can take is to appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel. Displayed below is a short outline of the procedure you need to follow for appealing to the school governors:
1.     Prepare and send a letter requesting a meeting with the school governors. Once you let the governors know that you wish to meet them, they are be required to meet you within 5-16 school days of the exclusion.
(In order to acquire a sample letter for requesting a meeting with the school governors, please contact the newsletter editor on editor@agsi.org.uk)
! Remember to always keep copies of all your correspondence
2.     Prepare a Summary of your case to read out to the governors at the meeting. This Summary can be used again if you need to present your case to the Independent Appeal Panel, has your appeal with the school governors been unsuccessful. Collect as much evidence relating to/challenging the reasons for exclusion as possible, as well as evidence relating to the exclusion procedure. The following is an example of an evidence relating to the exclusion procedures which can be particularly helpful in your case:
! If your child`s exclusion follows from an incident related to discrimination or bullying, and your child belong to the category of children “at risk within the education system” (minority ethnic groups, asylum seekers and refugees, pregnant schoolgirls or teenage mothers, looked after children), you should enquire if the school has taken account of this. What actions has the school taken to help your child manage their behaviour? Has the school requested advice on dealing with your child`s behaviour, etc. Note this down in your Summary.
(In order to acquire a sample Summary, please contact the newsletter editor on editor@agsi.org.uk)
The governors must let you know of their decision in writing within 1 school day of the hearing.
! Remember, your child should receive work from the school for the first 5 days of the exclusion and the school should arrange for it to be marked.  From the 6th days, the Local Authority must provide suitable full time education for your child.

! Remember, it is very important that your child stays at home during school hours in the first 5 days of exclusion. If s/he is found in public space without a good reason, you might be fined with £50. 


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Welfare Benefits Advice

Category Archives: Welfare Benefits Advice

Introduction to Community Care Grant, Budgeting Loans and Warm Front Scheme.
Previous issues of this newsletter have introduced some key forms of financial support provided by the welfare benefits system for people on low income (find Issue 2 of Community Advice Newsletter (May 15, 2010) in our Electronic Newsletter Archive).
This article will draw your attention to some alternative schemes for financial support.
Community Care Grant  
Eligibility:Already getting Income Support, income-related Employment and Support, income-based Jobseeker`s Allowance or Pension Credit or are about to start getting it within the next 6 weeks because you are moving out of care to live independently. - You are being resettled to a new home by a local council or voluntary organization following an unsettled period in your life  - you need help because you/your family face exceptional pressure, such as family breakdown or because one of you has a long-term illness. - You look after someone who is ill or disabled, or has been released from custody on temporary licence.
Amount of Support:
depending on personal circumstances.
How to Apply: download an application form  here or contact your local Jobcentre Plus to find out where to find and send your application form
This grant does not have to be paid back!  
Budgeting Loans
Eligibility:You or your partner have already been getting Income Support, income-related Employment and Support, income-based Jobseeker`s Allowance or Pension Credit for at least 26 weeks. - You need help with furniture/household equipment, clothing, advance rent or removal expenses for a new home, travelling expenses, things to help you look for work, improving, maintaining or securing your home, repaying debts you took to pay for any of the above.
Amount of Support:
between £100 and £1500 (depending on your marital status, financial situation (ability to pay the loan), your savings
How to Apply: Contact local Jobcentre Plus or Pension Service to request form SF500
This loan has to be paid back! 
Warm Front Scheme      
Eligibility:You need help with covering costs for heating or insulation improvement work in your home. - You get Working Tax Credit (with an income of less than £15 460 and which much include a disability element) and/or Child Tax Credit (with an income of less than £15 460) and/or Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Income Support (including a disability premium), Housing Benefit (including a disability premium0, Council Tax benefit (including a disability premium), War Disablement Pension (including a mobility supplement or Constant Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (including Constant Attendance Allowance). - You are not getting any benefits yet but might qualify for some. - You are aged 60 or over and get Pension Credit/Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit or Income-based Jobseeker`s Allowance. - You have a child under 16 or are pregnant and have a maternity certificate MAT B1 and get Income Support, Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit. Income-based Jobseeker`s Allowance or Pension credit.
Amount of Support: - You will be entitled to get between £3500 and £6000
How to Apply: call the Warm Front Scheme Manager on FREE phone line 0800 316 2805                          
! You can check your eligibility for different benefits by consulting the following online Benefits Adviser.
This article has been published in Issue 4 of Action for Social Integration's Community advice E-Newsletter, July 19th 2010
Free Final Salary Guide
Final Salary Pension closing? Get a Free Final Salary Pension Guide now
www.H-L.co.uk/FinalSalaryGuide
Pension Loans
Pension Loan Pension Release/Unlocking
www.pensionloanbrokers.com
Pension Cash for over 55s
Looking for cash from your pension Unlock Your Cash 0800 567 0018
www.policyservicing.co.uk
Disability Living
Allowance success. Learn how to make effective claims/appeals
www.benefitsandwork.co.uk



What is "Jobseekers Allowance"? How is eligible and how can one apply?
Jobseeker`s Allowance is a benefit for unemployed people who are looking for work. To be entitled for this benefit you will have to be aged between 18 and Pension age, either unemployed and actively seeking work or working for less than 16 hours per week.

Your eligibility for Jobseeker`s Allowance will also depend on your immigration status. You might not be eligible to receive Jobseeker`s Allowance if you are from overseas or have recently arrived to live in the country. In case you have doubts concerning your eligibility, we would advise you to consult an experienced adviser from the Citizens Advice Bureau (you can find your nearest office of the CAB by following this link) or contact Jobcentre Plus to request an assessment of your eligibility for Jobseeker`s Allowance (please find the contacts of your nearest Jobcentre Plus office by following this link).
 There are two types of jobseekers allowance:
1.     Contribution-based jobseeker`s allowance: your eligibility for this one is assessed on the basis of the amount of National Insurance Contribution which you have paid while employed. You can only receive a Contributions-based jobseekers allowance for up to 182 days. It amounts to £50.95 (for people aged 16 – 24) and £64.30 (for people aged 25 or over).

2.     Income-based jobseeker`s allowance: your eligibility for income-based jobseeker`s allowance will depend on your income (even if you have not paid enough National Insurance Contribution). Your payment rates will depend on your personal circumstances. You will normally be paid Income-based allowance until your income increases. Support under this scheme amounts to £50.95 (for people aged 16 – 24 and £64.30 (for people aged 25 or over) .

! Remember, if you qualify for Jobseeker`s Allowance, you may also qualify for Housing Benefits without having to complete a separate means test.
 
What is an application procedure for Jobseeker`s Allowance?
·        Stage 1: Making a claim contact your local Jobcentre Plus using their Freephone number 0800 055 6688 to make a claim for Jobseeker`s Allowance. You can also apply online through this online application service provided by the Department of Work and Pensions: to apply for Income-based allowance click here, to apply for Contribution-based allowance, follow this link.
·        Stage 2: New jobseekers interview Schedule a "new jobseeker interview" in your local Jobcentre Plus. An adviser will help you draft a "Jobseeker`s Agreement" which will outline the steps you will need to take in order to find work. Your adviser will also inform you of the specialist help and advice services available to you to help you with CV preparation, skills training and improvement, etc.
·        Stage 3: Fortnight jobseekers reviews (Every 2 weeks) These longer reviews will take place if you have not managed to secure employment within 13 weeks of registering under the jobseekers scheme. On these reviews you will have to report on the actions you have undertaken to secure employment.
·        Stage 4: Restart Interview (after 6 months) Attend a "restart interview": in the interview, discussions with your adviser will focus on any additional help you might receive, such as access to jobs where your employer receives a £1000 subsidy to train you, help to start your own business or become self-employed, voluntary work.
To find out what actions you can take if you disagree with your benefits decision and would like to appeal against it, please follow this link.

We would also advice you to familiarize yourself with this online booklet "If you think our decision is wrong", produced by the Department for Work and Pensions.

! Remember, you only have 1 month after getting a decision to ask for it to be explained, reconsidered or appeal against it.


What is welfare benefits and who can help you to access them?
The "welfare benefits", also called social security benefits, is a form of financial support from the government for people who are (1) unemployed/looking for work (2) employed but on a low income, or (3) have specific costs to meet because of their personal situation.

The social benefits system is often found difficult to grasp and navigate around by people who approach it for a first time: indeed, your eligibility for different types of benefits and the amount of money you can receive depend on a number of factors (your savings, the number of adults and children in your family, their age and health condition, other benefits you already receive). This is why, if you struggle to understand what benefits you are entitled to receive, we would recommend that you acquire one-to-one advice which considers closely different aspects of your individual circumstances.

The agency which deals with claims for welfare benefits is Jobcentre Plus. You can also contact Jobcentre Plus to request an assessment of your eligibility for benefits. Find the contacts of your nearest office by following this link.

! You can always book a FREE one-to-one advice consultation with Action for Social Integration`s experienced legal advisers by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk. If your case falls outside our area of expertise, we will do our best to refer you to the most relevant advice institution and, if you ask us to, will always agree to acquire advice on your behalf.
You might be entitled to benefits if one of the following applies to you:
- You are on a low income  (either employed or looking for work)
- You have dependent children
- You are ill or disabled
- You are caring for someone
- You are aged 60 or over
- You have been bereaved
- You are pregnant or have recently had a baby
Another important thing to know, if you consider applying for benefits, is that the financial support you receive under different schemes within the social benefits system, is designed to help you with different types of expenses. For example, the Housing Benefit is designed to allow people on a low income to pay all or parts of their home rent, while a Council Tax Benefit is meant to help you with paying your Council Tax bills. There are other benefits which are more closely related to employment: the Jobseekers Allowance scheme, for example, allows you to get financial support if you are unemployed but available and looking to work.

The Tax Credits are another form of financial aid from the government for people in a low income: if you are working but are on a low income you might be entitled to receive Working Tax Credit. If you are responsible for at least one child or a young person who normally lives with you, you might be eligible for a Child Tax Credit.

For a more detailed outline of the range of benefits you can apply for, the differences between them, application requirements and the institutions you will need to contact, please have a look at the following benefits schemes: 
Income Support
It provides money for basic living expenses to certain groups of people who are not required to be available for work. For example:
• People looking after children on their own (called single parents or lone parents)
• People looking after someone who cannot look after themselves (called carers)
• People who are not able to work because of health reasons (called incapable of work).
To claim Income Support you must be under 60 and over 18.Child BenefitYou can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child aged under 16, or a young person under 20 if they are still in full time education or on certain training courses. This is not affected by how much money you have or if you are working.
Jobseeker`s Allowance
It is a benefit for people who are unemployed but capable of work.
To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must show that you are looking for work. JSA provides money for basic living expensesWorking Tax Credit If you work more than 16 hours a week you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit. This depends on your circumstances and how much money you have each week.
Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit
If you are working but living on a low income you may be entitled to some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to help you with the costs of rent and council tax. You will normally be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit if you are receiving Income Support or Jobseeker`s Allowance.  You claim these benefits from your local authority, also called local council, not from a Jobcentre Plus office. If you are renting accommodation from a private landlord you may be entitled to Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
Child Tax Credit
is a payment for people who are responsible for at least one child. You do not need to have a very low income to get some help from Child Tax Credit. Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are paid by HM Revenue and Customs.
You can easily find out what benefits you are entitled to by using this online Benefits Adviser provided by the government`s digital information services. All you will have to do is answer anonymously a set of questions about your income, savings and outgoings. Similarly, to assess your eligibility for Tax Credit, fill in the following online Questionnaire.

If you struggle with filling in these questionnaires, please contact us by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk and we will do it for you!

Alternatively, for an A to Z list of all available benefits click here.

Immigration Advice

Category Archives: Immigration Advice
The housing rights of successful asylum seekers

This article is a continuation of the article “What new legal rights and entitlements does a positive decision on your asylum application give you”, published in Issue 2 of Community Advice E-Newsletter (May 15, 2010).

In Issue 2 of Community Advice Newsletter we have already explained that successful asylum seekers who have been granted a refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain in the UK (the three positive outcomes of the asylum process) have broadly the same rights and entitlements as other UK citizens.
Yet, while successful asylums are entitled to receive free housing advice, they have no automatic right to housing in the UK.
What difficulties can arise upon a change of your immigration status and what actions could you take to deal effectively with them?
! Remember, If you have been receiving asylum support while waiting for your permission to stay in the UK, it will stop within 28 days of receiving your permission to stay in the UK. This might make it hard for you to sustain yourself and your family, especially if it takes you longer to secure employment.
Register with the nearest office of your Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible. This is the government agency which deals with all claims for benefits. This is where your application will be prepared and processed. Contacts of your nearest office can be found here.
Added to this will be the need to secure your own housing.
! Remember, upon receiving a positive decision on your asylum application, you will have 28 days to leave the accommodation which had been provided to you by the UKBA. It is essential that you use this time effectively to secure at least one of the following housing options:

            -social housing
            -private accommodation
            -applying with your local council as a homeless person
Applying for Social Housing
“Social housing” is a housing scheme offered by local councils or housing associations. Be advised that due to the very high demands for social housing, many applications may be either delayed or rejected. This is why it is essential that you consider and work to secure an alternative housing option along this one.
Applications for social housing can be made with any council in London. However, be advised that priority is given to applications where “local connection” is present. Any of the following will be considered a “local connection”: (1) you work in this area, (2) you have lived in this area for at least 6 months or 3 out of the last 5 years, (3) have a close family member who has lived there for 5 years, (4) you have been accommodated there by the UKBA at the point of receiving your new immigration status.
In order to apply for social housing, you will need to fill in a form available in the council`s offices or website. Upon submitting this form you will be entered in the council`s Waiting List (also called “Housing Register”).
! Remember, if you experience difficulties with filling in the form the council should help you and, if needed, an interpreter should be provided.
! Alternatively, please contact us by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk and we will do this for you!
! Remember, the outcome of your application depends on the information you have provided in your application form: in order to help the council identify your case as priority case, it is important that you include detailed information about any medical, personal or financial problems you might have.
Applying for Private Accommodation
While a private housing (a property owned and let by a private landlord) is a more expensive option, it is still possible to get help with covering some of your costs:
Local Housing Allowance: this is a scheme to help private tenants who are out of work or on a low income pay their home rent. Find out how to calculate the Local Housing Allowance you are entitled to get by following this link
Housing Benefits: this is a scheme for social housing tenants on low income. Follow this link to find out how you can apply for Housing Benefits.
Rent Guarantee/Deposit Scheme: this scheme can help you to cover the deposit which you will need to provide prior to moving to your new private home. Contact a local advice agency (find a list of advice agencies below) to check if this scheme is available in your area.
Refugee Integration Loan: this is another scheme which can help you with covering your deposit. A booklet providing detailed explanation on the loan in different is available here. Be advised that this loan will have to be paid back in the future. The application form for the RIL must have been sent to you along with the decision letter from the UKBA, yet if you have not received it you can request one by contacting the Integration Loan Team at the UKBA on 020 8196 5440.
Applying with your local council as a homeless person
You might be eligible to apply for housing as a homeless person because of your immigration status, age (if you are under 18 or over 60 year old), marital status (if you have a child and/or pregnant wife), or health situation (if you are ill or disabled). Again, a “local connection” with the council you apply with will give your application a priority. For more information on this option please contact any of the institutions outlined above.
This article has been published in Issue 4 of Action for Social Integration’s Community Advice E-Newsletter, July 19th 2010


Dealing with Positive Asylum Applications


What new rights and entitlements does a positive decision on your asylum application give you?
Receiving a positive decision on your asylum application by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) would mean that you are permitted to stay in the UK, but only temporarily. You will normally be given one of the following statuses: Refugee status, Humanitarian protection or Discretionary leave.

!Remember, each one of these three statuses gives you the same rights and entitlements as any one UK citizen. You are allowed to work, use health services and apply for housing and welfare benefits in the same way as other UK residents.
 
!Remember,  if you have been receiving asylum support while waiting for your permission to stay in the UK, it will stop within 28 days of receiving your permission to stay in the UK. This might make it hard for you to sustain yourself and your family, especially if it takes you longer to secure employment. Register with the nearest office of your Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible. This is the government agency which deals with all claims for benefits and where your application will be prepared and processed.

You can find the contacts of your nearest Jobcentre Plus office by following this link.
 
Your right to work
You will receive your permission to work in a letter from the UKBA. You should contact Jobcentre Plus for any job related enquiries, guidance and tips on finding employment.

More information on your employment rights and further guidance can be found in the following online guide “Refugee Guide to Training and Employment”, produced by the Refugee Council.

Would you like to continue practicing your former occupation in the UK? In order to find out whether a qualification received overseas can be recognized in the UK, we would advise you to visit the website of the UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC). You can request an assessment of your qualifications online. However, please, be advised that you will be charged for this service!
 
Your right to use health services
Once receiving a positive decision on your asylum application, you are entitled to free health care in the UK. The free health care services provided by the NHS include emergency and routine medical treatment, maternity and child health, dental treatment, eye tests and glasses, certain medicine prescriptions.
 
Your entitlement to welfare benefits
You can apply for social security benefits, upon receiving a positive decision on your asylum application, if you have little or no income. There are a range of schemes within the social benefits system which you can apply under. For more information on the different benefits available and further guidelines on your eligibility, please see the section on Welfare Benefits displayed above.

Apart from the standard welfare benefits available to all UK citizens, you might also be able to apply for a Refugee Integration Loan (RIL). This is a loan from the government designed specifically for people with refugee status or humanitarian protection. Remember that while you can receive the RIL in addition to welfare benefits, unlike them this loan will have to be paid back in the future. The application form for the RIL must have been sent to you along with the decision letter from the UKBA, yet if you have not received it you can request one by contacting the Integration Loan Team at the UKBA on 020 8196 5440.

In order to discuss your benefits options in detail, please book an appointment with one of our immigration advisers on 02088036161, or contact your nearest office of Jobcentre Plus. More information on your entitlement to different welfare benefits can also be found in this short “Refugee Guide to Welfare Benefits”, produced by the Refugee Council.

It is important to know that your benefits application should be accompanied by the following documents: NASS 35 form (this form will be issued by the UKBA to all asylum seekers who have been granted a positive decision), Immigration status document (this is the letter granting you your new status), document confirming your identity with a photo, National Insurance number (you will have received your National Insurance number along with your letter from the UKBA confirming your status).
 
Your right to settlement in the UK
In order to stay permanently in the UK, upon receiving a positive decision on your asylum application, you will have to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which is also called “settlement”. The period after which you can apply for an ILR will depend on the status you are granted upon approval of your asylum application:
·        A refugee status or humanitarian protection will allow you to stay in the UK for 5 years. You will have to apply for extension at the end of this period.
·        A discretionary leave will allow you to stay in the UK for 3 years or less. You can apply for an extension of further 3 years at the end of this period. After spending 6 years in the UK with a discretionary leave, the UKBA should allow you to stay in the UK indefinitely.
!Remember, it is very important that you apply for extension before your permission to stay in the UK expires. Failing to do so might potentially affect your right to work or access benefits in the UK.
 
!Remember, in order to be granted an ILR, in each one of these three cases you will have to pass a life in the UK test which examines your knowledge of language and life in the UK.
 
!Remember, in each one of these three cases, the UKBA might review your case before the end of the period you have been given for temporary stay in the UK. If, for example, conditions in your country have improved and the UKBA considers that you are no longer in need of protection, it might decide that you should leave the country. You will have the right to appeal against this decision.
 
Your housing rights
Find a detailed article on your housing rights and advice on how to avoid homelessness in the next issue of this newsletter!
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Our Vision and Services

Our vision is of a society where no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health.

Mental health problems are extremely common across society, with one in four of us experiencing them in any year. Despite being so common, people from all communities will still experience discriminatory attitudes and behaviours that can prevent people from speaking out, seeking support and playing full and active roles in our communities. The impact of mental health stigma and discrimination will vary between communities as mental health has a cultural context that affects the way communities talk about the subject and engage with people who have mental health problems. In some cultures depression, for example, doesn't exist and in others an experience of a mental health problem can be attached to a sense of shame.

For the African and Caribbean communities a key issue is the overrepresentation of young African and Caribbean men in mental health services. Misconceptions and stereotypes have led to a perception that this group is more likely to pose a risk of violent behaviour and, as a result, they are more likely to be treated as inpatients and sectioned when compared to other groups. It is well documented that this has led to a fear of talking about mental health issues more openly and a fear of using mental health services. Research by the Race Equality Foundation (2011) also highlighted fears that discrimination against Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and migrant service users will increase in the austerity climate and whilst commissioning arrangements change.

Our Services

· Provide information, advice, advocacy

· Represent diversity communities in Health Care services, policies and strategies

· Organise training in health and social care in collaboration with local colleges

· Provide human resources ( including interpreters) who are suitable to the diversity communities especially to break language and cultural barriers

· Provides domiciliary care and support

· Provide services such specialised support for people with mental health needs, including people who suffer from short-term memory problems, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

· Provide visits to elderly people and help them with outings and home services

· Participate in local authority and NHS consultations , research events and programmes to voice the needs of diversity communities.

· Increase access to services and rights for disadvantaged people and the most vulnerable of our society

· Help and support unemployed people to look for work, including training and job preparation

· Provide legal advice in a range of issues from on Immigration and Asylum , welfare benefits, housing, health, education, community care, and training, employment, etc.

· Provide advice and guidance, information and practical help so that our service users can access opportunities they are entitled to

· Organise training and other community learning opportunities that provide new skills, increase confidence and motivation

· Support our service users to overcome barriers to learning, employment and training

· Provide support for young people with their education, training, confidence building, employment and social needs.

Objectives of our Diversity Living Programme:

· To promote the inclusion and participation of diversity communities* in integrated care.

· To inform policy, locally and nationally, and assisting in the formulation of effective policies, strategies and good practices in integrated care in order to contribute to improved health outcomes for the people from the diversity communities (e.g. Black and minority ethnic communities) and to ensure health services are able to meet their specific needs.

· To improve the quality of life for diversity people with disability, mental health problems and their families and carers through integrated care by providing inclusive advocacy and information.

· To provide service that enable diversity groups and individuals with disability /elderly and their carers to make the right choice for themselves and have an influence on decisions made about their future.

· To promote the rights of diversity people with disability, their families and carers and make sure their rights are safe and protected.

· To promoting access to information regarding healthcare issues and to raise awareness of the needs of diversity disabled children, young people, older people and their families.

· To promote the rights of older and disabled diversity people, helping them overcome and enable them to participate in decisions about their future

· To provide support and information to those suffering the isolation and loneliness that can be associated with disability and old age

· To fight against mental health stigma in refugee, black and minority ethnic communities and ensure no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health or disability.

*Diversity communities are older people, disabled people, Black, Asian, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and other ethnic minorities.