One key issue that many campaigners felt was unresolved in the Domestic Abuse Act was support for those with no recourse to public funds – this refers to those from migrant communities who are unable to access housing, universal credit, and other state support.
Despite a couple of short-term solutions, the problems remain, and campaigners continue to call for stronger action and service provision to protect these people. Leeway supports calls for long-term, sustainable funding to support those from migrant communities experiencing domestic abuse and urges the government to listen to experts on this issue.
Where Are We At?
A recent committee was held in parliament to highlight this issue and included contributions from Nicole Jacobs (Domestic Abuse Commissioner), as well as Southall Black Sisters and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service.
Specifically in focus was a pilot programme providing support for migrant women that was introduced alongside the Domestic Abuse Act. The pilot has often been referred to as “inadequate” and not really getting to the heart of the issue – Southall Black Sisters (the organisation tasked with delivering the pilot) have been critical throughout.
Despite reservations from those delivering it, the pilot project was extended by another year in April. The general consensus from campaigners is that this is delaying implementing long-term plans and is a quick fix for an issue that won’t be going away.
Additional Barriers to Accessing Support
Many migrants face barriers to accessing support, which means that they are likely to stay with the perpetrator, putting themselves at greater risk of serious harm.
Perpetrators often use their partner’s immigration status against them, threatening them with deportation, saying that nobody will support them, and reminding them that their right to stay in the UK is dependent on them – the perpetrator.
They are also reluctant to engage with the police as they fear that they will share information about their immigration status with the Home Office.
In some cases, and areas, it can be hard for survivors to get support in a language that they understand, adding a communication barrier that prevents some people from coming forward.
All these factors lead to those from migrant communities being reluctant to come forward for support and feeling as though they are dependent on the perpetrator. Many do not know the support that is available to them, nor are they aware of their rights and options.
What Needs to Happen
A long-term solution needs to be found to provide greater protection for those with no recourse to public funds, prioritising the wellbeing of the individual rather than their immigration status.
The pilot programme is not delivering the full support that is needed and is failing to fully address the issue – one that has been flagged by campaigners for many years.
Greater funding, particularly in refuge, is needed to be able to specifically support those with no recourse to public funds, as well as funding to provide support in languages that survivors can understand and are comfortable with.
If you have been affected by an experience of domestic abuse, you can reach out to us for support by calling 0300 561 0077. If you don’t feel safe to speak, you can still access support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or using our LiveChat service on this website 10am - 12 midday (Mon, Wed, Fri) and 2pm to 4pm (Tues, Thurs).