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Southwark Law Centre (SLC) won in the London Homelessness Awards recently, and gained a prize of £20,000.  We asked them to tell us about some of the people they have worked with recently.  All names have been changed.

Tony was a homeless EEA national who had recently had his foot amputated. Doctors assessed that if he returned to the streets and could not keep his wound dry he would lose more of his leg.  However, the relevant council were refusing to accept that he was eligible for homelessness assistance because of his immigration status.

The team at SLC worked with Tony to help him make an urgent application for settled immigration status. The homeless team liaised with his doctor to provide a compelling letter evidencing the urgency of his case.  This resulted in the Home Office taking the unheard of step of granting settled status the very next day. As a result, his council then accepted eligibility and he was provided with suitable accommodation.

 Manny was referred to the SLC after he had attempted suicide.  He had taken this drastic step as he was scared that he would not be able to afford the Home Office fees to renew his leave to remain and would be removed from the UK and separated from his children. The SLC team took on his case just three days before the expiry of his leave, and made an in-time application for a fee waiver. This application was greatly assisted by a detailed letter from the homeless team confirming his destitution and his attempted suicide.

As a result, the application was granted, and he has been given two and half years leave to remain, now with recourse to public funds. His mental health has greatly improved and he is now in supported accommodation. Manny was also refused Housing Benefit, and SLC successfully appealed this decision: he received a backdated Housing Benefit payment and ongoing support.

 Luis, had stage four cancer.  He was an inpatient and too ill to work. He and his wife have five children and were living in a severely overcrowded two bedroom flat that they could not afford due to his illness. The family had limited leave to remain in the UK, but this came with a condition preventing them from accessing public funds.  It was due to expire within two months. They had also incurred thousands of pounds in debts from paying previous private immigration solicitors and Home Office fees.

The team at SLC helped them to apply for permission to access public funds due to Luis’ ill health and in the best interests of the children.  This was granted within two weeks. With the teams’ help, the family then successfully applied for Universal Credit, made a homeless application and were provided with suitable accommodation. We then worked with them to renew their leave to remain.  By providing evidence of their destitute situation, the Home Office agreeing to waive the application fees, saving over £10,000.

Their application has since been granted and they have been given a further two and half year’s permission to remain in the UK with access to public funds, with a clear route to settlement following this.

For more information about Southwark Law Centre go to https://www.southwarklawcentre.org.uk/.  To find out more about the London Homelessness Awards and how to apply in 2022 o to www.lhawards.org.uk