PAO Executive Meeting

Dear All

Just a quick reminder that we have an executive meeting at Austin House, at 16:00 on Saturday the 21st of July 2012. It is important that we all attend and please be punctual.

We expect to have a general meeting within the next couple of weeks and so do keep an eye on this blog for details.

Kindest regards

Desk of Acting Chair

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Portsmouth African Oasis (PAO) Representatives Behind HM Kingston Prison Gates

Tuersday, 12th April 2011, Portsmouth.

HMP Kingstone, Portsmouth, UK

HMP Kingston, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK, Library Picture

Less than a year after the launch of Portsmouth African oasis (PAO), representatives of the Portsmouth based charitable association found themselves back at HM Kingston Prison in Milton Portsmouth but this time with a different mission. In its efforts to embrace the government’s “Big Society” initiative, HMP Kingston, staged an open day event on the 12th of April 2011 which was aimed at breaking down barriers between the prison and its local community, changing the perceptions of life sentence prisoners and encouraging “buy in” from the outside, in terms of employment, study, funding and volunteering opportunities.

The event was organised in conjunction with the re-rolling of Kingston, from a  security Category “B” to Category “C” Life Sentence prison. This means that the institution’s focus has changed to progressing those “people in care” to resettlement within the community upon release. The term “people in care” is seen as a better representation that describes people who have been ordered to serve sentences of various durations as a result of a conviction for serious offences. Ordinarily known as prisoners, the phrase “people in care” is  preferred and a more suggestive term of life within the institution’s walls and unless one has been inside, it is almost impossible to appreciate the sentiment.

Annie Quinhentos and Alfred Lakudzala, two representatives from PAO were among those to witness, first hand, “Life after Life”, an open day overview of what happens when a person has been sentenced to life in prison after a criminal conviction. Following the abolition of capital punishment in the UK in 1965, Kingston Prison became an exclusive institution for inmates serving life sentences. Kingston has fulfilled its current role since 1968, undergoing various changes to make it more appropriate and compliant with modern standards

Events of the day commenced in the Community Centre, a building more popularly known as Austin House, around 9:00 am with a drinks reception, registration and allocation to syndicates. Syndicates were groups of between 8 and twelve guests and a prison guide. After introduction, the prison Governor Mr Ian Telfer gave a brief opening address of Kingston’s vision – Capacity to Change – and Kingston’s role within the ‘Big Society’ initiative. “The Big Society” as defined by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, “is one in which we all try and do more. We don’t just look to Government to solve the many problems that we have; we actually look to ourselves, to voluntary bodies, to companies, to charities, to all of those things to build a bigger country.”

Each syndicate then followed a pre-defined route on a tour of the prison, visiting various functional areas where guests were given a briefing of the area and have an opportunity to ask questions. The areas included prison industries where guests were shown printing equipment, painting and decorating workshop, drafting and design workshop. According to HMP service website, “the aim of the Prison Industries is to occupy prisoners in out of cell activity and wherever possible to help them gain skills, qualifications and work experience to improve their employment prospects upon release.”

Kingston Prison was built between 1874 and 1876 by French prisoners of war and is a listed building with many of the original Victorian architectural features. Originally the prison accommodated domestic life-sentenced prisoners, including men, women and children. Historic pictures are a stark reminder of this role.

Currently Kingston Prison has an annual budget of £6,000,000 (2010/2011), with an estimated annual cost per prisoner of £30,151 broken down into a weekly cost per prisoner of £580. According to the sources, www.insidetime.org, the annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare. These figures are based on budget divided by Operational Capacity.

A hot lunch gave the guests an opportunity to experience food prepared by prisoners from the diverse prison community.

The culmination of the events of the day was a speech by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Paula Riches, who among other things expressed her deep admiration of the way Kingston has integrated, and continues to, into the society through awareness campaigns, and how the institution is performing in preparing those in its care for life after life and subsequently life after release. The Lord Mayor empasised her commitment to the endeavours towards the continued improvement of life for both Kingston residents and the surrounding community and Portsmouth as a whole.

Never Be ashamed of Immigrant Britain

Click here to link to article source: Never be ashamed of immigrant Britain

Wed Apr 06 12:15PM .

After ‘bigotgate’, many of us became reluctant to point out that prejudice still plays a part in the immigration debate.
By Ian Dunt

Today, the immigration cap was put into place. After years of promotion and planning, a policy that was once considered barmy and counter-productive has become official government policy. There are no howls of derision, because the only lobby with any weight campaigning for immigration is the business lobby, whose support most of us can do without.

But there should be howls of derision. There is a simple and plain truth about Britain today: it needs immigration. We have a rapidly aging population. The number of people aged over 65 has risen steadily over the last 25 years, as the population aged under 16 decreases. By 2034, 23% of the population will be over 65 compared to 18% under 16.

That’s a big problem, because we’ll have fewer people working and paying taxes to support people who are unable to work and pay taxes. To make things worse, the fastest population increase is among the very eldest – those aged 85 and older. Their numbers have doubled since 1984 with advances in medical science. By 2034 their numbers are projected to be 2.5 times larger. That’s 3.5 million – five per cent of the population.

This demographic timebomb means the immigration cap is going to cost you money. The Institute for Public Policy Research predicted a shortfall in public finances to pay for our aging population on the back of the cap, requiring a rise of up to 9p in income tax by 2036.

But the real cost comes not in what we must pay but in what we lose. In 2006, immigration contributed a net £6 billion to the economy. You wouldn’t have known that, given the last government report, by the Lords economic affairs committee, which insisted immigration was neutral economically. Its chair, Tory Lord Wakeham, said it was “preposterous and irrelevant” to include the overall impact of gross domestic product (GDP) as a key measure. That’s a strange view, but no stranger than refusing to countenance the idea that immigration radically reduces the cost of public services, another of the committee’s errors.

The damage we do now won’t just affect us immediately. It will affect us into the future. Every day we are waking up and shooting ourselves in the foot. Theresa May’s decision to hand the UK Border Agency (UKBA) control over which post-study jobs non-EU students can take introduces bureaucracy to a system that has served us well over the years – attracting wealthy Chinese and Indian students, creating ambassadors for Britain in some of the most mobile and well-educated sectors of the world’s population and inviting the smartest, cleverest people in the world to set up a business here in the UK.

Look to the Premier League for the prime example of what immigration can offer Britain: Once the European Court of Justice ruled in 1995 that restricting the free movement of football players contravened EU law, we never looked back. We are now recognised for the most beautiful, exciting, watchable football in the world. Fans in Asia change their sleeping patterns to follow it, villagers in Africa know where Sunderland is. If you want to be posh, you call it ‘soft power’. In reality, it’s just international influence. It happens to be invaluable.

That dynamism is precisely what Britain risks losing if it continues down this barren political route towards arbitrary numbers, whether it be Cameron’s obsession with the “tens of thousands” or the bizarre and meaningless media obsession with the population reaching 70 million. By being the kind of country which can encourage and accommodate talent from across the world, we can become the world leader in business, arts, science, culture and sport.

There are problems with immigration, but they have relatively simple answers. People are concerned that immigrants undercut domestic wages and labour standards. That’s a good concern, a valid concern. The solution is strong trade unions. Dubious European court rulings such as Viking and Laval, which allow workers from other EU states to work in the UK for the pay level of their home country, must be taken on and defeated. Standards must be maintained.

We’re also uncomfortable seeing the ghettos of (predominantly) Muslims in urban centres. We don’t like it when people burn poppies or conduct forced marriages. The solution is easy: The law. Just follow the law. It’s sometimes exasperating to do so, but it’s the only civilised response. The alternative – the state telling people where to live, for instance – is statist lunacy.

Lurking beneath the veneer of respectability and civility in which immigration arguments are couched, there often lies an assumption about the good society, that it should be pure and unified, that it should look the same. In a horrific turnaround, Gordon Brown’s ‘bigotgate’ gaffe really turned the table on pro-immigration advocates. It made it politically impossible to even suggest that prejudice or bigotry were often at the heart of people’s view of immigration.

Unfortunately, it often is. The sense of ‘the other’ is at the bottom of many anti-immigrant statements, and some of the prejudice that lurks in this country is truly staggering. We all know it. We’ve all heard it. We’ve all realised that the editorial policy of several tabloids is specifically designed to separate our communities. We should stop being afraid and make ourselves clear: Millions of people in this country are avowedly, proudly, utterly pro-immigration.

Where there is prejudice on one side there is also something aesthetic on the other. There is the sense that immigration is beautiful. A multicultural Britain, a multicoloured Britain, with its flavours and music, its carnivals and variety – that’s the Britain I was born in. When I feel my love for my country, that’s the country I’m talking about, not some stale black and white slide show from World War Two. It’s a beautiful Britain and one we should be proud of. But regardless of whether we’re proud of it or not, it’s here to stay. That thought should prove reassuring amid the deafening chorus of anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Violence Against Mothers Is Legal in the United Kingdom?

31st March 2011, United Kingdom

UK Border Agency appear to suggest…in their Message that coincides with 2011 Mothers Day Celebrations.

In a move that has surprised even the most conservative idealogy, the UK Border Agency has decided to hand all foreign mothers a special Mothers Day Present this year – the kind that they will never forget for their whole life. For details please read the verbatim release from The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) titled: 

UK Border Agency’s new immigration rules wholly at odds with home office violence against women strategy

UK Border Agency’s new immigration rules wholly at odds with home office violence against women strategy

The Immigration Law Practitioners Association

Briefing for a prayer against Statement of changes in immigration rules HC 908

Domestic violence: UK border agency’s new immigration rules wholly at odds with home office violence against women strategy

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association urges peers and MPs to pray against the latest Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, HC 908, laid before parliament on 31 March 2011 and due to come into force on 6 April 2011, because of the risk it poses to survivors of domestic violence.

ILPA considers that the gravity of the matters at stake is a reason for MPs and Peers to seek to pray against the Statement of Changes before they come into force next Wednesday.

[ Put your MP to work request they pray against immigration rules HC 908

You can contact your MP for free, through:
WriteToThem.Com: http://www.writetothem.com/ 

Contacting The Lords: Call the main Parliament switchboard on 020 7219 3000. If the Lord has a listed telephone number, the operator will try to connect you. Or, you can leave a message with the Message Service on 020 7219 5353. ]

HC 908 imposes a requirement to be free of criminal convictions at the time of applying for settlement on those applying under the domestic violence rule.  The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has written to the Home Secretary and Equalities Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, as well as to the Minister for Immigration, Damian Green, urging them to amend the rules as a matter of urgency and withdraw the requirement before it comes into force.  We understand that the Violence Against Women team in the Home Office were not consulted about the changes, which ILPA has brought to their attention.

The domestic violence rule exists to ensure that people do not remain trapped in abusive relationships because of fears about their immigration status.  Where a person can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the UK Border Agency that their marriage or civil partnership has broken down because of domestic violence, so that they are no longer in a position to apply to remain in the UK on the basis of that relationship, they can be given permission to remain in the UK on the basis of being a survivor of domestic violence.

 Requirements to be free of unspent convictions at the time of making an application for settlement are imposed upon a wide range of immigration categories by the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 863, which was laid before parliament on 16 March 2011 and is also due to come into force on 6 April 2011.  HC 863 did not impose the requirement upon those applying under the domestic violence rule.

 The Immigration Rules already contain provisions which give the UK to refuse an application for settlement in any category because of a person’s character.  These provisions are discretionary provisions.  The difference between them and the proposed provisions relating to unspent criminal convictions is that the existing provisions are discretionary; UK Border Agency officials can decide whether or not they wish to invoke them.  The new provisions would be mandatory; officials would have no choice but to refuse the application.

 If a person in any category other than the domestic violence category wishes to make an application for settlement but is not confident that their application will succeed, they can make an application for further time-limited leave instead.  This option is not open to victims of domestic violence.  A person is initially given 27 months ‘probationary’ leave as a spouse or civil partner and must, before that leave expires, apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) as a spouse or civil partner.  If the relationship breaks down during the probationary period the person is expected to leave the UK save that, if the relationship has broken down because of domestic violence, the person can apply for settlement under the domestic violence rule.  There is no prospect of their applying for further limited leave on the basis of the relationship; that is gone.

There were discrete errors in the provisions relating to being free of unspent convictions at the time of applying for settlement in HC 863, which the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association drew to the attention of the UK Border Agency and which are now to be corrected by HC 908, the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules laid on 31 March.  For example the 16 March 2011 rules had applied the requirement to have no unspent convictions to entry clearance applications for spouses and civil partners rather than to applications for settlement as had been the Government’s intention, as set out in the Explanatory Note to the Statement of Changes.  In the course of correcting these errors; the UK Border Agency introduced a further change, which was to impose the requirement upon those applying under the Domestic Violence rule. 

The Home Secretary and Equalities Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, launched the UK’s Action Plan on Violence Against Women on 8 March 2011.  She stated:

 “No level of violence against women and girls is acceptable in modern Britain or anywhere else in the world… My ambition is nothing less than ending violence against women and girls and our strategy document will outline our commitments to seeing this become a reality. [1]

The Action Plan emphasises the importance of victims being able to come forward, and indicates a hope that reporting rates would be improved.  The Action Plan constitutes a response to the review undertaken by the Baroness Stern, which particularly focused on victims of rape (some of whom will be victims of domestic violence), and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  The Plan (point 40) expressly acknowledges migrant women victims of domestic violence and the importance of the domestic violence Rule, and identifies positive developments the Government intends to make to support these women while their indefinite leave to remain applications are pending.  The Action Plan also indicates (at paragraph 87) that the Ministry of Justice will provide a framework of guidance that will offer models of support and direction to all those working with women offenders and women at risk of offending to enable them to respond more effectively to those who have been affected by abuse or violence.

HC 908 also contains all the provisions to implement the Government’s changes to the immigration rules pertaining to students.  Parliamentarians will be aware that is not possible for parliament to amend a Statement of Changes in the course of a prayer; it can only approve or disapprove the instrument as a whole.  If there are parliamentarians who wish to speak in any debate on a prayer on the subject of the other provisions of the rules ILPA would be very happy to answer any questions and to provide further briefing material if required.

For further information please get in touch with Alison Harvey, General Secretary, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association alison.harvey@ilpa.org.uk, 0207 2518383 or 0207 608 3680 or Steve Symonds, Legal Officer, on 0207 490 1553 steve.symonds@ilpa.org.uk


[1] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/call-end-violence-women-girls/vawg-action-plan?view=Binary

ILPA Lindsey House, 40/42 Charterhouse Street London EC1M 6JN Tel: 020 7251 8383 Fax: 020 7251 8384 email: info@ilpa.org.uk  website: http://www.ilpa.org.uk

THE IMMIGRATION LAW PRACTITIONERS’ ASSOCIATION LTD IS A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE, REGISTERED IN ENGLAND AND WALES REG NO. 2350422 REG OFFICE ACRE HOUSE, 11/15 WILLIAM ROAD, LONDON NW1 3ER

PORTSMOUTH AFRICAN OASIS PLAYS HOST TO MULTI ORGANISATION LEARNING AND SHARING FORUM

26th March 2011 – Portsmouth

Delegates after the two day seminar outside Premier Inn, Portsmouth. Photo: courtesy of Slough Refugee Support.

Delegates after the two day seminar outside Premier Inn, Portsmouth

Portsmouth African Oasis (PAO) has hosted a two-day long multi-organisation learning and sharing information forum five months after its launch of what was then Zambian Oasis. The groups that were represented at the event included the Slough-based Forum, Slough Refugee Support, Portsmouth Racial Equality Network Organisation (PRENO) and the hosts PAO.

Every new organisation needs to raise funds, have in place effective management structures, have a defined plan for the delivery of its services and define its own distinguishing identity in order to effectively deliver on its objectives. The seminar was a result of ongoing attempts to address these issues as PAO establishes its foothold in the community. The best way was to enlist the mentorship of existing and successful organisations in a learning and sharing forum. 

The seminar consisted of a series of preparatory presentations, sharing of experiences and stories, feedback, evaluations, suggestions and signposting. The first session was a  meeting with Refugee Action manager Mike Brown at Venture Towers in Portsmouth, Fratton on Friday the 25th of March 2011. Mike, who after initial introductions briefed the audience on the work that RA has done, the state of the current level of services in view of the changes that the government is implementing and what it means for voluntary organisations and charities. This was followed by another briefing session by PRENO representive Taki Jaffer at their offices also in Fratton.

The peak of the event was the general meeting held at the Premier Inn, North Harbour in Portsmouth where all the delagates shared experiences and learnt from each other. Moving testimonies of experiences were recounted. It was one of the places where the shedding of a tear was not a sign of weakness and it was okay to do so in full view of everyone.

Members unanimously agreed that a multi agency approach was a necessary element in the quest for community empowerment and delegates made a fresh commitment to pursue collaboration actively.

The meeting was adjourned at 14:00 and a group photo session followed both inside and outside the hotel.

CAPACITY BUILDING BME VOLUNTEER TRAINING

 A 12 HOUR TRAINING PROGRAMME OF 4 THREE HOURLY SESSIONS

Please note; Training commences Wednesday evenings and is REPEATED on Monday afternoons for those of you who can’t make Wednesday evenings.  A crèche is arranged for both Wednesday and Monday training sessions.

Session 1; Informal interpreting.  Roles. Equality & Diversity

Wed 30th March 5.00pm – 8.00pm, The Learning Place, Room 7 – (Crèche, room 5,)

Repeated Monday 4th April from 12 – 3. The Learning Place room 3 / 4 (Crèche, room 5,)

Session 2; Representation. Getting / Giving the Right Information

Wed 6th April 5.00pm – 8.00pm The Learning Place, room 7 – (Crèche, room 5)

Repeated Monday 11th April 12 noon -3.00pm, The learning Place, room 3 (Crèche, room 5,)

Session 3; Safeguarding Adults. Lone Working. Managing Expectations

Wed 13th April 5.00pm – 8.00pm, The Learning Place     Room 7 – (Room 5, crèche)

Repeated Monday 18th April, 12noon–3.00pm,The Learning Place, room 3 – (Crèche, room 5,)

Wednesday April 20th and Monday April 25th Closed for Easter

Session 4; Recording Information. Talking to the Professionals

Wed 27th April 5.00pm – 8.00pm The Learning Place, Room 7 – (Crèche, room 5,)

Repeated Monday 9th May 12noon – 3.00pm, The Learning Place, Room 3 – (Crèche, room 5)

For further information and instructions on how to get involved please contact PAO Chairperson, Annie on: 07774463011 before Wednesday, 30th March 2011.