Islington has a rich history of welcoming migrants into our borough with open arms, and as a result, we have an especially diverse population with 33% of residents born outside of the United Kingdom compared to 14% nationally.
This has never been more important than in recent weeks as we have all watched, with sadness, the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan and the desperate attempts of those fleeing the country.
Islington’s Labour-run Council was proud to announce that it would welcome 15 Afghan households to the borough, offering them a home, supporting those households to settle in, get the support they need and integrate into our community.
This is just the latest example of support for asylum and migrant communities, including support for those who have been granted No Recourse to Public Funds.
No Recourse to Public Funds is a Tory Government condition which limits access to public funds for people who have arrived in the UK and have not been granted the right to remain. This is a cruel and vindictive part of the Tories’ Hostile Environment for migrants.
The Council supports these vulnerable people with access to vital documentation, as well as issues with insecure work, lack of access to decent housing and digital exclusion. Since the start of the pandemic, the Council has supported 137 households who have No Recourse to Public Funds due to their immigration status, despite the fact that the Council gets no funding from Government for this work.
Last year, Islington Labour councillors awarded local ward funding to the Unity Project, a small charity that focuses exclusively on supporting individuals and families subject to NRPF. The charity used that funding to support the legal case of a five-year-old boy who was born in the UK to a mother from Zimbabwe and had been declared as having no Recourse to Public Funds. Unity Project won the case which found the Government’s policy to be unlawful.
To further support the Council’s support for migrant and refugee communities, in July the Council passed a motion to join the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network. This signalled the commitment of the Council to embedding sanctuary principles in their work with people of sanctuary seeking background and also their dedication to challenging anti-refugee attitudes wherever they are found.
Cllr Santiago Bell-Bradford, Islington Council’s Migrants Champion, said:
“As the son of a Chilean migrant, I know all too well how difficult it can be to arrive in this country without any background or support to fall back on. I am proud of everything our council does to welcome and support migrants into Islington and commit to doing even more.
“Islington is a better, fairer and more diverse place due to our range of migrant communities. We can only benefit from welcoming migrants into our borough and our Labour-run council will continue to do so.”