History and purpose
The proposal to set up a support centre for migrants in Haringey came following concerns from local community groups about the lack of immigration advice and migrant-specific services provided in the borough. Following an initial meeting of some 50 people, a smaller steering group went on to establish the Haringey Migrant Support Centre (HMSC).
HMSC seeks to fulfil the following mission statement:
“Haringey Migrant Support Centre will provide a weekly drop-in service for migrants. The drop-in will offer free immigration advice from legal professionals, and advice and signposting services on welfare and health issues. It will also provide a safe and welcoming space, helping to reduce social isolation amongst migrants and serving as a hub for social and wellbeing activities. It will campaign on issues relating to migrants, and to raise awareness of migrants’ social and economic circumstances amongst people in the local community. It will welcome people from all migrant groups, regardless of their specific immigration status.”
HMSC is now a registered limited company as well as a registered charity. The fundraising team is constantly very busy making applications for grants and have secured a number of grants that enables the centre to continue it’s work. Work is currently undertaken primarily by a steering group comprised of volunteers from in and around Haringey, with a wider group offering time and support where necessary.
Why a centre for migrants?
Cuts to legal aid and statutory bodies have meant that it is increasingly difficult for migrants to access basic services. At the same time, immigration rules in the UK are strict with time limits on many applications, leaving people vulnerable to extortionate fees for poor quality advice, putting their applications in jeopardy.
For many this means a life of destitution, and many of London’s existing services support destitute migrants are struggling to meet demand for their services. Those that relied heavily on government funding are finding it hard to keep going now that budgets have been slashed.
Lauren Cape-Davenhill, who chairs HMSC’s steering group, comments: “Like most European capital cities London is a city of migrants. These are people who start at the bottom and work hard to make a decent life for their families.”
Many migrants arrive in the UK with nothing, little knowledge of the culture and find it difficult to find their way around. Ms Cape-Davenhill goes on to say that “The centre aims to help those who are struggling. We will provide advice, winter clothes, and a nourishing meal. We want to create a social space in Haringey to reach out to migrants who feel isolated.”
Migrants travel across London to find advice and services. Hackney Migrant Centre, operating in Haringey’s neighbouring borough, has reported a massive increase in people looking for assistance with 20% of them coming from Haringey. The Haringey Migrant Support Centre will work to provide those people with advice and support.
In May 2013 HMSC became a registered charity (no. 11522227).
HMSC is registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (ref: N201500478).