My Week by Head of Social Work Emile: Wednesday

Posted on: 25th June 2014

Our insight into our in-house social worker Emile’s weekly challenges and tasks continues…


We start the morning with our Service Team meeting to debrief on Tuesday evening services and to share information and strategies. Straight afterwards I meet with Hilary. She is an “overstayer” from Nigeria; when she registered with Body & Soul in November 2013, she and her one year old son were sleeping on the floor of a friend’s house and surviving on food vouchers from her hospital. After a lot of advocacy work, I have since secured the family accommodation and subsistence payments from Children’s Services at their west London local borough.

This morning we’re met with some bad news. Hilary’s child is British, yet the application for (derivative) residence that I made for her some months ago has been refused. The Home Office claims that her son’s father having other children with his wife, who is unaware of Hilary and their son, are not grounds for him being unable to look after their son in the event that Hilary is removed from the country. Furthermore, they state that since we provided a letter from the father stating he cannot take care of their son, this is a “contradiction” in the assertion that the father has no contact with their son. We set about obtaining further advice, referring to specialist agencies, and exploring other options. The local authority is already threatening to remove the support currently in place.

Fortunately, I’m met with some better news in the afternoon. I’ve been supporting Gillian for some six months challenging a breach in a Contact Order. Gillian’s ex-partner cut off all contact between Gillian and their daughter when he discovered that both Gillian and their child were HIV positive. Gillian was also unaware she living with HIV until their daughter reached six. Gillian gave up her comfortable life in Uganda to be with her ex-partner, her limited leave to remain has since expired and she does not qualify for any free representation in the private law matter. Consequently she and I have spent months challenging a breach in a previously issued Contact Order. Today we finally receive a court date. I begin contacting our legal partners to see if I can secure pro bono representation (the following week we manage to find someone!).

Before going home for the day, I finish a pile of hardship applications started by volunteers the night before and start contacting the Home Office on behalf of Fran.

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