Christmas 2016: Comfort and joy?

Christmas is always a time for reflection, and as another year draws to a close we think it’s important to take time to consider the impacts of the ‘hostile environment’ the Home Office is creating for the people we work with.

This week alone, we have helped two single mothers, both victims of domestic violence, both caring for children with British passports and both denied recourse to public funds. Their relationships with their partners having ended under violent and abusive circumstances, both have been surviving for several months in Bed & Breakfast accommodation some 16 miles from the centre of Birmingham, and from the support networks they have developed during their time in the UK.

Sharing just one room with their children and surviving on ready meals and takeaways, having no accessible kitchen facilities, both have spoken of the despair they live with, and the sheer sense of hopelessness which characterises their daily lives, with one tearfully describing her 3 year old daughter’s ongoing difficulties night-time difficulties, routinely waking up screaming, traumatised by the events she has already experienced in her short life.

Subsisting on the minimal financial support made available to them under section 17 of the Children Act, such women struggle even to travel by bus to the offices of organisations like ASIRT, which are potentially placed to provide the advocacy and legal support necessary to improve their circumstances.

We are grateful, then, to our friends in the community, who are conscious of the difficulties our clients endure, and keen to take action to help our work.

The Clarion Singers have kindly offered to organise collections for ASIRT at their Christmas Carol events, tomorrow (December 17th) at Togademus, Poplar Rd, Kings Heath (2.30pm) and at the Victorian Tea Rooms, Kings Heath Park (4pm), while later that eveing our old friends at Muzikstan have generously offered to organise a collection towards vulnerable families’ costs at their Christmas Party at the Old Print Works.

We hope to see you at one or other of these events, and are setting our sights towards working for human rights and social justice in 2017.

Season’s Greetings to you all, from everyone at ASIRT.

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