A Living Tradition CIC Gateshead Roma Kavárna Project Report for July 2018
The Kavárna has continued to serve the Czech and Slovak Roma community in Gateshead and Newcastle during the month of July. As well as continuing issues around debt and housing, we have become increasingly concerned about what will happen after Brexit in late March next year.
A representative of A Living Tradition CIC attended a parliamentary session on the Roma and Brexit at the House of Commons on Wednesday 11th July. What was said made for sobering listening. As a summary the following can be said: We talked about the positive experience of Roma in the UK and how they didn't want to go back to the discrimination and uncertainty of life back in Eastern Europe.
In terms of Brexit, there are legal frameworks to work within - Council of Europe e.t.c. and there is a clear legal process at some point. However, there is a lack of clarity about what will happen - like everything with Brexit - and genuine fears for many people.
There was much talk about particular issues for the Roma - vulnerabilities, use of the internet, proof of residence e.t.c... There were numerous comments about the possible lack of documentation for Roma, both from their country of origin and here in the UK due to lack of engagement with HMRC and the DWP. There are great fears of what might happen if it goes wrong. These fears include the high costs of gaining settled status, and the real fear of exploitation.
Some solutions were offered - the Home Office will have get this right and some good people are on to it! There are ways to engage with the Home Office, use M.P.s. We were also exhorted to keep positive...
This issue is becoming a major worry for visitors at the Kavarna. Brexit concerns, including the lack of evidence that they have been living in the UK for the past 5 years and the fact that some families don't have tenancy agreements, as the landlords never provide them.
There are the same issues regarding employment. Roma are often given no payslips and no contract.
There are also concerns about how expensive it will be to apply for a resident card, lack of English to explain about past life in the UK and many now have expired passports
The sad truth is that many Roma are scared to go back to the Czech Republic for a holiday, in case they are not allowed back into the UK.
They are worried about their children's education if they have to go back. Families who are on PIP are worried they will be sent back home because they are not longer working.
Peter Sagar, Company Secretary, A Living Tradition CIC, and Irma Karchnakova, interpreter and worker, August 2018