Love to Learn engages in strategic campaigning on issues affecting refugee families in Wandsworth.
The Benefits Cap
Our primary campaigning area this year has been the benefit cap, which was introduced in the borough from 12th August 2013. So far, we have organised advice sessions for clients and other parents at High View and Burntwood schools.
We have also lobbied local representatives, producing a briefing on the anticipated impact of the cap, which was given to all 60 borough councillors and MPs. In December, we held a meeting with Paul Ellis, Head of Housing at Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC), and with officers from the Housing and Benefits departments at WBC. Partner organisations (Elays, ASWAC, Klevis Kola Foundation, Wandsworth Citizens Advice Bureau, South West London Law Centres) joined us in raising our concerns about the cap and discussed council strategies for dealing with anticipated evictions and increased homelessness applications. Wandsworth Council reps were urged to consider measures to support single parents and constituents with significant barriers to gaining employment, such as refugees with language barriers. Community representatives affected by the cap spoke about their experiences, while the shortfall of temporary accommodation in the borough and the shortage of ESOL courses were also raised by the organisations present.
We used the research report written by Haringey Council to inform our discussion – it has useful statistics for campaign work.
The meeting was fruitful and Love to Learn hopes that it will mark the beginning of greater partnership on strategic campaigning on these issues in the borough.
Love to Learn is working with Wandsworth Citizens as part of an ongoing campaign to introduce an iGCSE in the Somali language. We are also currently producing a practical briefing paper for teachers on the experiences and struggles of unaccompanied child asylum seekers from Afghanistan, which is expected to be available in the New Year.
In March 2014, we produced ‘Disputed Lives’ a briefing paper for schools and other educators on working with unaccompanied young Afghan refugees. Designed to raise awareness of the difficult and complex experiences of this student group, we hope that it will increase the understanding needed to support them and avoid breakdowns in communication.