LAWRS statement on the "New Plan for Immigration"

LAWRS statement on the "New Plan for Immigration"

We have responded to the government’s consultation on the “New Plan for Immigration”. LAWRS holds a long-standing tradition and history upholding the rights of asylum seekers, refugee and migrant women. We are disturbed by the proposals included in this ‘New Immigration Plan’ and the lack of compassion in its approach to ensure people seeking asylum are protected from further victimisation. We are concerned to see that lessons from the Windrush scandal and its review have not been learned, despite the commitments from the government and the Home Office to put ‘people first’ and have a more compassionate approach towards immigration.

LAWRS agrees that the UK asylum system must be reformed to better support people seeking protection, but we oppose the proposals as we do not believe they can lead to a fair asylum system. We believe they threaten the very right to seek asylum in the UK, they will make life harder for those people who do claim asylum here and put people seeking safety more at risk.

We oppose this “New Plan for Immigration” because we believe it will criminalise and punish vulnerable people seeking asylum, including women and children fleeing dire living conditions who have already experienced high levels of abuse and trauma. We are disturbed by the Plan and its lack of evidence to sustain the actual effectiveness of these proposals.

In the last decade, the government has put in place new rules on immigration without considering the negative impacts that they would have on equality and the wellbeing of highly vulnerable groups of people such as victims of VAWG, modern slavery and trafficking. As a frontline organisation supporting migrant women experiencing abuse, exploitation and hardship, we come across the damaging effects of immigration policies and changes on immigration law on extremely vulnerable women and children on a daily basis.

While the government could have used this opportunity to conduct a widespread consultation both with people with lived experience and experts in the field, they have chosen to make this process too quick and complex, and the questions too misleading, to achieve any meaningful results. We are concerned about the lack of opportunities that asylum seekers with lived experience of the UK system will have to participate and engage with this process. This exclusion extends to the fact that the consultation is only available online and in English. Furthermore, the platform and the way the consultation is structured are highly confusing, with minimal opportunities to give substantial feedback as many of the questions are highly misleading and based on assumptions that are not backed up by evidence.

In conclusion, we strongly believe that a fair immigration system should be built on human rights, safety and dignity foundations for everyone who claims asylum in the UK in order to allow asylum seekers and refugees the support needed to rebuild their lives, regardless of their route of entry.

Read LAWRS full response to the consultation here.

Contact: dolores@lawrs.org.uk, elizabeth@lawrs.org.uk


Sin Fronteras: This is who we are

Sin Fronteras, the girls and young women project at the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) is launching its latest video:
This is who we are, Sin Fronteras. Voices of Young Latin American Migrant Women in London.

This video was created by the young participants of Sin Fronteras, in collaboration with Fotosynthesis, to amplify their voices and to share their message of social justice, gender equality, anti-racism and recognition of the Latin American community in the United Kingdom.

The video is a celebration of our diversity, identities and cultures; a wake-up call for decision-makers to act; and an invitation to other youth groups, feminists, and minority communities, to join forces and support us in our role as agents of change in the British society.

You can watch the video here:

Our voices, our message

Our voices are those of young Latin American migrant women in London.

We come from different countries in Latin America. We speak Spanish, Portuguese, and also English. We are black, white, mestizo, indigenous, we are diverse.

We live in London and our experiences and realities are different. We love this city, we belong to it, and day by day we contribute to its construction and development. We live here and we also matter, we live here, and we are Londoners too.

Our Latin American community has a lot to contribute to British society. We study, we work, we participate, we take care of others. We are active citizens, and we want our identity, diversity, feminism and contributions to be recognised.

We raise our voices to be recognised in this which is also our city.

This is who we are, Sin Fronteras.

                                     Sin Fronteras’ participants.

Join us

If you are a Latin American young woman between 14 and 21 years old living in London, and want to participate in our Sin Fronteras group please fill in our online Google Form, or contact the Sin Fronteras Coordinator, Melissa Munz: 07802 645001 / melissa@lawrs.org.uk


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Covid-19

IMPORTANT Covid-19 Update

Dear users,

Due to the situation generated by the coronavirus (COVID-19), our offices are closed. However, we will continue to work remotely.

We hope you are taking care of your health and that of your loved ones. In the meantime, we want to assure you that you are not alone and continue to count on our support. For updated information check our Facebook page.

For information and advice, you can contact us on the following phone and emails:
Telephone: +44 020 7336 0888
Phone line hours: 
Monday to Friday, 10 am – 1 pm / 2 pm – 5 pm.

General LAWRS email: lawrs@lawrs.org.uk
Violence Against Women and Girls team: referrals@lawrs.org.uk
Counseling team: counsellingferrals@lawrs.org.uk
Volunteers Coordinator: volunteers@lawrs.org.uk


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters EU Settlement Scheme Assistance

EU Settlement Scheme Assistance

Free assistance for Latin American women and their families who are EU nationals or family member of an EU citizen, to obtain permanent residence (Settlement or Pre-settled Status)

Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm (without appointment)

If you are European and work or have worked in the UK, you should bring:

  • Passport or DNI (yours and your dependents)
  • National Insurance Number
  • If you are applying for your child, you will need a birth certificate or family book
  • Email and mobile phone
  • If you have lived more than 5 years in the United Kingdom, bring proof of your residence (P45, P60, salary receipts, council tax)


The Unheard Workforce

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) is launching its latest report: “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work” 

Download report

On the 17th July 2019, LAWRS launched the research “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work”. Funded by Trust for London

The research draws on 326 cases of women supported at the Employment Rights Advice Service of the organisation. It presents an array of deeply concerning labour rights violations experienced by Latin American migrant women employed in three key feminised sectors of London’s manual labour: cleaning, hospitality, and domestic work.

Among the key results arising from these cases, we found that:

  • Over half of the workers faced breaches to their contracts (62%). Unlawful deduction of wages was the most common type of abuse (151 cases, 46%).
  • 1 in 5 (20%) experienced illegal underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.
  • 17% were unlawfully denied the annual leave they were entitled to, and 16% were not paid accrued in lieu annual leave once they left the company.
  • Health and safety issues were present in 25% of the cases – predominantly injury due to the nature of the work (33%), limited or no protective equipment (17%), and lack of training (12%).
  • Over two in five (41%) of women in the sample have experienced discrimination, harassment or unreasonable treatment.
  • 66% experienced bullying or unreasonable treatment as regular occurrences.
  • A large proportion endured verbal and/or faced physical abuse, 37% and 11% respectively.
  • 16% of the women endured a total of 13 different types of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
  • Abuse on the grounds of maternity was experienced by 9% of women. This includes failure to pay for hours spent at prenatal appointments and denial of risk assessments during pregnancy.
  • 11 cases of potential trafficking for labour exploitation were identified: 7 were cleaners or hospitality workers and 4 were domestic workers.

“We are not machines or numbers. We are human beings who want to work and to be treated with dignity and respect. We want nothing more and nothing less.”

Watch the full short documentary below:

“Undocumented Latin American migrant woman’s experiences of labour abuse in London”

This documentary was made with the support of Media Trust by the filmmaker Andrew Contreras


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Protesting Banners

LAWRS 35th Anniversary report is out!

35 year ago, we started our work in a time where domestic violence was only physical abuse and we increased our services accordingly to the development of policies and legislation through the years. We are proud to follow the steps of amazing Latin American women who came before us and we hope to do our part for the ones to come. As a specialist service, we will continue providing survival, security, safety, and well-being and also advocating and campaigning for human rights and social justice for migrant women and migrant women workers in the UK.

During the last year 2017-2018, our main achievements were:

  • 1,890 hours of comprehensive wellbeing support offered
  • 1,691 advice and information sessions
  • 339 survivors of violence supported to find safety
  • 285 school students better able to lead healthy relationships
  • 266 women joined in our integration programme
  • 515 women supported in Southwark
  • 124 women supported in Haringey
  • 93% improved their knowledge about rights
  • 85% improved their wellbeing
  • 40% of our drop-in service users accessed more than 1 service in a single visit
  • 70% found LAWRS through word of mouth
  • Evidenced-based campaigning work to tackle violence against women and girls, labour exploitation and reduce the impact of Brexit

Read more here: LAWRS 35th Anniversary Annual Report


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark

We can’t fight in the dark: Brazilian women facing violence

A research by the King’s College in partnership with LAWRS found out that VAWG among Brazilian women in London is “alarmingly widespread”, with 4 in every 5 Brazilian women in London have experienced some kind of violence.

The study, published in March 2018, shed a light on cases of violence suffered by Brazilian women in London, provided data and offered policy recommendations to tackle the issue. According to the study emotional/psychological violence was the commonest type of violence experienced in London (48%), followed by physical violence (38%), with 14% experiencing sexual violence.

The study also found that cases of VAWG are intersectional as women of mixed race were more likely to experience violence (63%) than white women (44%). Insecure immigration status prevented women from coming forward and reporting the cases of violence to the police. Apart from highlighting the need for the Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Bill to set standards for the protection of migrant victims’, some of the proposed solutions to prevent VAWG cases with Brazilian women are extending ‘recourse to public funds’ to domestic violence victims, specialist training for agency officers; and increased collaboration between support organisations and government authorities. The study reinforces the need for safe reporting mechanisms to be implemented as we campaign in Step Up Migrant Women.

 

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Sin Fronteras

Relaunch of Sin fronteras: Empowering young women from Latin America

We are thrilled to announce the return of Sin Fronteras! Launched in June 2015, Sin Fronteras (No Limits) focuses on empowering young Latin American women and girls. Sin Fronteras provides them with a safe space to develop their full potential and lead on actions for social change through the use of arts. During the first two and a half years of the project, LAWRS offered different workshops and activities to more than 100 Latin American young women and girls. Through art, dance and music the young women and girls were able to identify themselves as agents that can generate a social change in our communities.

“We want to set an example, leave a footprint and speak up for Latin American people and for people from all over the world whose voices are silenced or to whom language is a barrier,” said the manifest written by members of the group.

They advocated for the recognition of young migrant women’s rights by calling for a recognition of rights through photography exhibitions, by demonstrating against detention at Yarl’s Wood, and by joining the campaign Against Border for Children (ABC). Here is Sin Fronteras standing up for the the right to education free from racism and state surveillance.

LAWRS is thrilled to relaunch Sin Fronteras in November 2018. We will run a 3-month creative leadership programme with the support of the University of London, a 1-year programme to access free university lectures thanks to King’s College London, and a 3-year programme of arts, development and social change funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Stay tuned to get more news about the awesome things this group of young leaders will be doing in the coming months.


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.