On 14 March 2023, Right to Remain hosted a sold-out Knowledge is Power session online. Knowledge is Power is the name of our flagship workshop series, designed to give individuals in the asylum system and those supporting them an overview of the stages of the process, as well as what they can do to be in a better position.
These workshops are so important in helping people understand their rights, now more than ever. We are operating in a political context in which the term ‘illegal’ migration has become commonplace, and this language is often going unchallenged. At Right to Remain we are committed to our belief that No One Is Illegal. Read our Statement of Solidarity here.
What happened during the workshop?
After introducing the work of Right to Remain and These Walls Must Fall, we gave participants a tour of Right to Remain’s resources.
The tour included how to navigate our Toolkit, which was used by over 400,000 people in 2022, as well as our Asylum Navigation Board, and Young Asylum Guide.
The tour of our website included a special mention of our newly-restocked shop, where we are selling our legendary ‘No One is Illegal’ and ‘These Walls Must Fall’ merchandise, from T-shirts to tote bags. There is no better time to make a statement of radical solidarity and support our work for migration justice in the process.
We also highlighted the exciting news that we are celebrating 10 years of the Toolkit this year with a series of Toolkit Festivals in areas where there is a legal advice ‘desert’. At these events, we support the work of grassroots asylum and migrant groups, and bring communities together to share their struggles, expertise and learning. We’ll be doing this across the UK this year – so we might be coming to a city or town near you.
Then we launched into an overview of the asylum system, incorporating changes made by the Nationality and Borders Act. We clarified queries around the introduction of Group 1 and Group 2 Refugees, as well as the Inadmissibility Rules.
We clarified the difference between the Preliminary Information Questionnaire (PIQ) which has been around for a few years now, and the recently introduced Streamlined Asylum Processing Questionnaire, where people from certain countries seeking asylum have been asked to complete a questionnaire instead of attending an interview.
Legal advice vs legal support
Our next exercise introduced the definitions of legal advice and legal support. In light of the recent introduction of the Streamlined Asylum Questionnaire, we have seen that people urgently need to understand the difference between legal advice and legal support. At Right to Remain we want to strengthen our power to provide community legal support, and this exercise is designed to help participants do that.
Legal advice is the application of legal rules to a specific set of facts that proposes action, and can only be given by individuals who are accredited by OISC or the Law Society. In contrast, legal support is taking action without giving legal advice, and includes passing on general legal information, as well as providing emotional, moral and practical support through the process.
To test our understanding of this distinction, we launched into breakout rooms for an interactive exercise on the differences between legal advice and legal support.
This distinction between legal advice and legal support is so important as there are fewer lawyers available to advise people on how to navigate these issues. There have been cuts to Legal Aid across the country, and lawyers who are working in the field are often incredibly over stretched and cannot respond to the demand. We know the problem is going to continue, and there will not be an influx of immigration and asylum lawyers overnight, so we need to take power into our own hands!
After the session, one participant working in the sector said:
‘Up until now I’ve been avoiding talking to people about a lot of things because I didn’t know the difference between ‘advice’ and ‘support’. Thank you.’
All Knowledge is Power sessions include a measure of participant’s confidence in the issues we will be discussing at the start and the end of the session. It was encouraging to see confidence grow by the end of the session – as people feel more equipped with the knowledge to pass on to others who need it.
Knowledge is Power, but we can only harness that power if we use it. Now is not the time for inaction. Now is the time to be confident and share the knowledge we have widely with the people who most need it.
Thank you to all those who attended and contributed. If you would like to receive information about the next Knowledge is Power session, legal updates, and general Right to Remain news, please sign up to our newsletter by clicking here.
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