Today WRC staff joined a 200-strong protest against the 'no recourse to public funds' rule, which leaves women trapped between violence and destitution.
Here's a brief report from Kate, WRC's Membership Officer:
By 11am people had started to gather outside Portcullis House in the spitting rain. Stewards drank steaming cups of tea, and handed out white masks to the new arrivals, who started to form a un-orderly line along the pavement.
People had come from all over the capital and the country, with the 52-seater coach from Roshni in Sheffield pulling up just before midday to great applause after long rain induced delays on the motorway. Over 200 people stood holding the banners: “Violence or Destitution, which would you choose? Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds", their rows of hidden faces eerie behind the white masks.
After an hour, people started to make their way in to the public meeting. Security on the door to Portcullis House was tight as expected, but the heavies soon mellowed, even allowing Heather, one of the Amnesty organisers, to hand them her seeping bag of rubbish!
The public meeting was buzzing, with MPs from each of the political parties, representatives of Islington No Recourse to Public Funds, Kalayaan, Amnesty, The Poppy Project, Southall Black Sisters and two women from the Metropolitan Police, who agreed completely with Southall Black Sisters that violence against women is not an immigration issue: "you don’t want to have to ask a woman at a point of crisis: “What’s your immigration status?”’ . The meeting closed with all united in the determination to continue the lobbying and campaigning and build on the day’s energy. The sun even came out to celebrate.
A great day, despite the rain. Big thanks to everyone who came!
A full report of the day and speakers will be on the WRC website soon.