No woman should be left without support and protection leaving a violent partner. Yet this is the reality for the women caught under the government’s “no recourse to public funding” rule, which serves its anti-immigration agenda by putting up barriers preventing women from leaving violent and abusive relationships. For more info on this issue, I really recommend checking out Amnesty’s explanation and breakdown of how this affects particularly women in the UK on student visas, temporary work permits and spousal visas.
Amnesty International, Southall Black Sisters and the Women’s Resource Centre are organising a mass lobby of Parliament for 4 November, to try and raise the profile of this issue. Full details below – but also see the WRC site for other ideas on how you can help, even if you can’t make it to see your MP on the day.
Lobby your MP about no recourse on 4 Nov 2009
Mass Lobby: Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds
10am – 3:45pm Wednesday 4 November 2009 at Westminster
On Wednesday 4 November, Amnesty International UK is leading on a mass lobby of parliament that will bring hundreds of activists together to urge the UK government to protect all women from violence and abuse in the UK.
We need as many people as possible to take part and to make an appointment with their MP for Wednesday 4 November between 12:45 – 3:45pm at the House of Commons – we recommend you try to get an appointment as close to 12:45pm as possible. We hope this groundswell of support will signal to MPs that this is a critical human rights issue facing women in this country.
A mass lobby is when a large group of people go to the House of Commons to raise the same concern with their MPs at the same time.
This will be a great day for women’s organisations and activists to join with other concerned citizens to lobby MPs, hear motivational speeches, learn more about campaign issues and understand why URGENT ACTION is so important.
Amnesty will be organising coaches from different locations in the UK and will produce briefing packs. A meeting for lobbyists will be held before the lobby at Westminster at 10am on 4 November – more details will be available soon.
We hope that women’s sector organisations all over the UK will get involved in the lobby and Amnesty will be holding an open meeting for women interested in finding out more on 16 October 2009 at 2pm at Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre (directions here) – to book a place e-mail Claire.Donner@amnesty.org.uk
Many women come to the UK in the hope of improving their lives. They may come on temporary work permits, student visas or spousal visas. However, having this immigration status means a woman cannot access public funds like housing benefits or income support. The issue is that these are the benefits a woman needs in order to stay in a refuge if she is fleeing domestic violence. Regrettably, this often means that a woman has no choice but to return to an abusive partner or become destitute.
The No Recourse to Public Funds campaign – lead by Southall Black Sisters and supported by Amnesty International and Women’s Resource Centre – is seeking an exemption to this discriminatory rule, and for funding to be made available to specialist women’s services so that they can provide safety and support to women fleeing violence.
In March 2008, Southall Black Sisters and Amnesty International released a report which highlighted the crisis for women with No Recourse to Public Funds. The UK government then pledged to find a solution. Eighteen months later, we are still waiting.
In March 2009, Women’s Resource Centre launched research that found that 1 in 5 women’s services had become inactive from 2004 – 2007; most likely because of lack of funding.
With a general election looming, NOW is the time to urge for a commitment from all three parties to find a permanent solution.
What do I do now?
Make an appointment with your MP. Find out who your MP is at www.theyworkforyou.com or telephone the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.
The quickest way of making an appointment is to telephone your MP’s constituency or Westminster office. When calling, you might like to mention:
* The No Recourse ruling is affecting women all over the country and is likely to be affecting women in their constituency now
* A number of constituents will be taking part and therefore wanting to meet them
* Ask for a time to meet them between 12:45 – 3pm (the earlier the better) and ask for confirmation in writing.
Let us know today if you are coming to the lobby and if you have made an appointment with your MP: email@example.com
Spread the word and tell your friends, colleagues and family! More information is available here: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/events_details.asp?ID=1378