23 November 2021: Guardian: ‘Performative cruelty’: UK treatment of refugees worst ever, says charity
Kent Refugee Action Network says young people arriving on south coast are a benefit, not a problem
On a windswept, bitingly cold day in Folkestone a discreet green portable building is a beacon of welcome on a stretch of the south coast patrolled by Border Force boats and self-proclaimed migrant hunters on the far right.
Inside its cheerfully decorated walls are workers from Kent Refugee Action Network. The organisation has supported young asylum seekers who arrive on the south coast for more than two decades.
Despite the plummeting temperatures and supposedly enhanced border patrols along the French coast, people continue to head for Kent’s shores in unseaworthy small boats.
While the row burns on in Westminster about where the blame lies for the record numbers of people reaching the UK in small boats, KRAN quietly gets on with supporting young arrivals and helping them adjust to life in the UK. A young Syrian refugee prepared lunch for any of the young asylum seekers accommodated in Folkestone who wanted to eat.
Many are too traumatised to speak of their difficult journeys and the dangerous circumstances they have fled from in their home countries. Forced separation from parents and siblings is particularly difficult. Unless the young people volunteer information, KRAN does not ask questions about the painful subject of their recent pasts.
One big change that KRAN has seen is that previously, people travelled to the UK closeted in lorries away from the eyes of the far right and the media. Now they are travelling in small boats and are easily visible to hostile eyes in their orange lifejackets after they have been rescued from dinghies by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) or Border Force boats.
Exclusive: Young migrants face Student Finance England tactics worse than ‘hostile environment’
Thousands of students who have lived in the UK since childhood are being subjected to a regime described as even harsher than the Home Office’s “hostile environment” tactics when they apply for study loans, according to a report.
About 8,000 students a year with an immigration status known as limited leave to remain (LLR) apply to Student Finance England (SFE) for funds to enable them to take up university places.
The students are often people of colour from countries including Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Ghana. They have lived in the UK for much of their lives with their families.Advertisement
Many come from low-income backgrounds, have excelled at school, are seen as the brightest and best of their generation and have secured university places to study subjects such as law and medicine.
Under limited leave to remain rules students are eligible for loans if they have lived half their lives in the UK and have had LLR for at least three years. But according to the report they sometimes find that even evidence provided by the Home Office confirming their eligibility is rejected by SFE.
The report, The Deintegration Generation, from We Belong, a youth organisation that campaigns for the rights of young migrants, documents dozens of examples of high-achieving students either wrongly rejected for loans by SFE or subjected to damaging delays in accessing these loans, which sometimes leads to them having to abandon their studies or not being able to embark on them at all.