Negotiating a maze of bureaucracy

Posted on: 19th September 2017

One of the challenges faced by our members is trying to negotiate the maze of organisations (both statutory and third sector) involved in their lives. At Body & Soul, we often act as a central point of coordination for our members, giving them guidance on bureaucratic issues, advocating on their behalf when necessary, and offering emotional support throughout. A good example of this is provided by the case of Rose.

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Rose has been a member of Body & Soul since 2015 and continues to receive both practical and therapeutic support from us. In December 2016, she was granted one year’s discretionary leave on the basis that she is a victim of human trafficking. She has been receiving support from Body & Soul’s psychotherapist to manage the post-traumatic stress she was experiencing as a result of what she had been through.

The psychotherapist referred Rose to the in-house casework team to address some of the more practical concerns that she had raised in their sessions – a good example of how our whole-person approach works in practice. One such concern was that the biometric residence permit (BRP) evidencing Rose’s leave to remain had not arrived. This permit is essential for obtaining a national insurance number and therefore being able to find work or apply for benefits.

Rose was receiving housing and financial support from two charities supporting victims of trafficking rather than having to rely on the Home Office’s asylum support, but she was concerned that her support would be withdrawn given she now had leave to remain.

Maze

Many members are faced with a maze of organisations that they must somehow negotiate in order to exercise their rights and access the necessary support.

The casework team was able to speak to Rose’s support worker at one of the charities and reassure her that they understood her situation and would not be ending her support until she had obtained her national insurance number. We also contacted the Home Office on Rose’s behalf to chase the biometric residence permit, which happily has now arrived.

Another practical issue that Rose was facing was that she had been given a different name by her traffickers on arrival in the UK, and she was registered with her GP and bank under this false name. Understandably, Rose took the decision after her leave to remain was granted to use only her given name. She was told that she would need a deed poll for them to be able to change the records held for her, which the casework team helped her to create. Rose successfully changed her records, which also allowed her benefits payments to start, since they must be paid into a bank account in the same name as the recipient.

We have seen a marked change in Rose in recent months. She performed as part of the Body & Soul choir at an event earlier this year launching our new mission, and thrived in this group. She has also used our self-help centre to search for free English and IT courses in her area as she looks forward to building her future in the UK.

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The member’s name has been changed to protect her identity.



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