Posted: 16 July 2020

The bleak reality facing children from migrant families

Our Lifeline for All campaign was launched at the start of lockdown, demanding the Government lift the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition which prevents some children from migrant families from accessing vital support.

The impact of this condition surprised even the Prime Minister himself who noted that “people who have worked hard for this country, who live and work here, should have support of one kind or another”. Despite stating he would look into why some people couldn’t access support, Boris Johnson has since gone back on his promise.

Some of the reasons the Government has given for not lifting the condition don’t stack up against the reality that children and families are facing.

Difficult decisions

Many families below the poverty line work, and have continued to do so through lockdown. They’ve had to make the difficult choice between putting their family at risk to support them financially, or risk being left destitute.

Brianna cares for elderly people aged 70+ who are living in a home. Her income is not enough to allow her and her 15-year-old daughter to move to adequate accommodation.

Her daughter has been unable to go to school throughout lockdown and has had to spend the majority of her day at home whilst Brianna is at work. Being left alone with the five adult males they share with is a major concern and she has already received mental health support due to the impact of her living situation.

Left without any support

For those on zero-hours contracts, no work has meant no income during the pandemic. People in this situation haven’t been eligible for furlough pay and with families unable to access support elsewhere, children are left destitute and at risk of homelessness.

Femi’s zero-hours contract meant that when work stopped due to lockdown, she had no income for the foreseeable future. For a while, she and her children were sofa surfing, but were asked to leave due to the host’s anxiety about COVID-19.

Complicated process

The Government has claimed that applying for a change of conditions was one way for families to access support if needed. But this process is a long and complicated.

Mr A has been looking after his three children alone. The entire family have been living in a cramped one bed flat where they all sleep in the same room.

During the coronavirus crisis all three children have been forced to stay at home, with little room to play and no outside space. Currently, they are living off £6 a day, granted under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and some small food parcels from the children’s school. But it is not enough. Mr A has applied to have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) lifted from his visa, but it’s an extremely difficult process.

Help us raise the issue

Even as life begins to return to normal, we know that the impact of lockdown will continue to affect young people and families with NRPF long into the future. Send your MP our Spotlight on NRPF booklet, highlighting these experiences and many more.

EMAIL YOUR MP

By Jazmin Glen
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