LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Stand Up Migrant Women

Step Up Migrant Women: Mayor of London calls for safe reporting for migrant victims

Prompted by our Step Up Migrant Women UK coalition, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the Home Office to protect domestic abuse victims who are vulnerable due to hostile environment policies. Migrant women with undocumented status are denied access to support and remain trapped in abusive relationships.

LAWRS worked with the Mayor’s office in drafting his letter to the Home Secretary, with measures and guidelines to ensure victims have access to justice and support services.

The Mayor’s demands were backed by Victims Commissioner Claire Waxman, who has been hosting a series of roundtables on the issue, and MP Jess Phillips.

“Both the mayor and I are clear that all victims of abuse must have full confidence to report crime and their abusers to ensure justice is done, no matter what their status might be,” said Claire Waxman

The current lack of safe-reporting mechanisms creates a barrier for migrant women to flee violence and gives greater impunity to perpetrators. An Imkaan study has shown that 92% of women with insecure status have received threats of deportation from perpetrators.

LAWRS’ Director, Lucila Granada, commented:

“The hostile environment policies have led to this extremely dangerous situation where many victims of severe crimes are too afraid to go to the police. Their perpetrator is dangerous, but the police can be even more dangerous to them. Perpetrators are hiding behind these policies and using them to abuse their victims.”

Step Up Migrant Women is a campaign led by LAWRS and supported by over 30 women’s and migrants’ rights organisations. We campaign for the implementation of safe-reporting mechanisms and the end of data-sharing policies when victims approach the police.

Photo by Angeles Rodenas


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Anti-Slavery Day

Anti-Slavery Day

On Anti-Slavery day – October 18th – we want to add our voice to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

In the UK, Latin American women workers are affected by “in- work” poverty and remain concentrated in vulnerable, low-paid, over-exploitative, unregulated jobs. European data also indicates a much worse scenario, as Brazilians are one of the top five nationalities of trafficked victims in Europe.

Research by LAWRS showed that 57% of women experience verbal abuse and threats, 17% of them earn less than the national minimum wage and nearly 40% do not have a written contract.

 

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Anti-Slavery Day

 

“It is crucial that migrant women who experience extreme labour exploitation in outsourcing sectors like cleaning, catering and hospitality are recognised as victims regardless of the immigration status they hold. Establishing a firewall for safe reporting will ensure that labour enforcement and the police better identify vulnerabilities of insecure legal status used by traffickers and abusive employers,” says Nahir de la Silva, Policy and Communications Coordinator for Employment Rights at LAWRS.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Minorities Face Barriers to Islington Health

Research: Minorities face Barriers to Islington Health

LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how LAWRS and the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice found that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

We offer services including linguistically-specific counselling and yoga to help our community keep healthy.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.[:es]

LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice also indicates that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.[:pt]LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice also indicates that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.

*Overall, 207 people were interviewed, across all participant organisations in the consortium. LAWRS has now been a consortium member for two years.

*The ten Islington-based organisations work to listen to and represent members of society that are not being heard by mainstream agencies.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Domestic Abuse During Isolation

Love Does Not kill, Violence Does

Love Does Not kill, Violence Does is our zero tolerance to violence against women and girls campaign, which aims to bring awareness to the longstanding problem of violence affecting Latin American and other migrant women in the UK.

This campaign also highlights the importance of recognising Latin Americans as an ethnic minority in order for women in our community to be able to access appropriate services targeted to respond to their needs.

We call on central government and local authorities to:

  • Provide appropriate and targeted services to migrant women victims of violence and abuse.
  • Officially recognise Latin Americans as an ethnic group.
  • Secure funding for specialist community organizations responding to the needs of migrant women and other minorities victims of violence and abuse.

This campaign was launched with the screening of our short film ‘Invisible Women’ with an audience of over 130 Latin American community leaders and activists. ‘Invisible Women’ is based on the experiences of 3 of our users. Their stories sadly reflect the situation of abuse, exploitation, and poverty facing many Latin American women in the UK today. Produced by Literally Films and Media Trust, you can watch it here:

The screening was followed by a roundtable with Labour MP Stella Creasy, Crime Prevention and Champion of the One Billion Rise campaign; Katharine Round, Director of Literally Films and Director of the video ‘Invisible Women’; and Carolina Gottardo, Director of LAWRS. The debate was chaired by Professor Maxine Molyneux, Director of the Institute of the Americas, University College London.

Our anti-violence posters in Spanish and Portuguese are displayed at Latin American organisations, shops, churches, and other community spaces. Our work towards demanding official recognition and appropriate funding for support services continues, but Latin American women need you to support their fight for equality.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Recognition of Latin Americans

Recognition of Latin Americans

We campaign for full recognition of the Latin American community as an ethnic group in the UK. This campaign aims to improve the visibility of Latin Americans in order to improve the community’s access to services and political participation. We call on central government and local authorities to:

  • Introduce the category ‘Latin American’ in ethnic monitoring.
  • Include Latin Americans in strategic planning and delivery of services.
  • Work closer with the community and the organisations providing linguistic and culturally specific projects that reach Latin Americans.

2014

Latin Americans are recognised by Islington and Hackney Councils.

2013

Lambeth Council officially recognised Latin Americans.

2013

We set up a coalition of Latin Americans organisations from the voluntary sector in the UK (CLAUK), founded by 7 members and hosted by LAWRS. Through CLAUK, which is currently made of 14 Latin American organisations, we carry out advocacy and campaigning work in order to achieve recognition at the local and national level, and to improve the community’s access to labour rights and health services.

2012

Following an intense campaign led by LAWRS and other local community groups, which involved a deputation to the full council assembly, Southwark Council takes the pionnering step of officially recognising Latin Americans as an ethnic group.

2011

LAWRS and Trust for London co-commissioned the publication of the No Longer Invisible report, the most comprehensive research on London’s Latin American community.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Migrants Contribute

Migrants Contribute

Migrants Contribute was a campaign made of 16 coalitions and organisations, representing over 60 migrant and refugee groups across the country. Migrants Contribute sought to foster a fairer debate about migration in the period prior to the 2015 General Elections by conveying a more truthful portrayal of migrants and combating the escalating demonisation of migrant and refugee communities in media and political speeches.

LAWRS hosted and supported Migrants Contribute, which achieved a strong presence in social media, press, and community events.

The campaign activities included:

  • Challenging political leaders and parties who deliberately play on people’s fears and anxieties about recession and austerity to blame these problems on ‘foreigners’.
  • Getting media to present the real lives of migrants and the real contribution we make.
  • Building a network of organisations making up/supporting Migrants Contribute led by a Steering Group.
  • Skilling up Change-makers so that they can challenge negative narratives themselves.
  • Mobilising migrant communities in order to increase civic participation and encourage active involvement in the immigration debate.
  • Raising awareness among general public about the many ways in which migrants contribute to the UK and about the importance of keeping the debate fair.

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Migrants Contribute

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service No Recourse to Public Funds

No Recourse to Public Funds

LAWRS is a Steering Group member and one of the precursors of the No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign, currently made of over 30 women organisations.

On 1 April 2012, the Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds achieved a major victory when the Home Office introduced the Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV) concession for victims of domestic violence on spousal visas. The concession, however, does not cover victims with other legal statuses. We remain active in pressing for public funding to enable all women to effectively extricate themselves from violence and abuse, regardless of immigration status.

 

One of the areas that still needs to be addressed by the UK Government is the case of women victims of domestic violence or abuse without recourse to public funds. At Latin American Women’s Rights Service all too often we have cases of women who are subjected to physical, psychological or financial abuse, but who don’t have access to any help. They also face cultural and language barriers and find it even harder to ask or access help. These women should also be able to protect their lives, integrity and safety.

Carolina Gottardo – Director at LAWRS

 

The Campaign continues to fight for those still not covered by these concession and calls for the Home Office and other relevant bodies to:

  1. Ensure effective implementation of the DDV concession. This includes:
    • Extend the scheme from 3 to 6 months
    • Fast tracking applicants through the benefit system
    • Tracking of applicants by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) for monitoring purposes
    • Training of professionals, including officials within the Job Centre Plus (JCP), DWP, the UKBA and local authority housing departments on the new scheme, delivered in conjunction with campaign members
    • Applicants having access to telephone, rather than online-only application processes, in the UKBA and JCP/DWP.
    • Professional interpretation services are provided by the Home Office and JCP for applicants who need this service
    • Women’s organisations, particularly specialist BME women’s services, are adequately funded to provide advice and assistance to enable victims to access benefits and housing under the new scheme.
  2. Provide benefits and public housing, and the right to permanent settlement, for all victims of gender based violence and exploitation. In the interim, a Home Office pilot should be established similar to the former Sojourner Project (which provided limited housing and subsistence costs for domestic violence victims on spousal visas from 2009-12).
  3. Provide legal aid for all victims of gender based violence and exploitation with immigration problems.
  4. Abolish the probationary period as it keeps victims in vulnerable and abusive situations for prolonged periods.

The Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds is currently made of 27 member organisations. It is chaired by Southall Black Sisters and hosted by the Women’s Resource Centre.