The Guardian reports that when Damilola Fowoshele’s nine-year-old son Michael started acting unusually at school, teachers at Surrey Square primary school called in his mother to speak about his behaviour. It was then that Fowoshele finally told them what was going on.
She and her two children had been sleeping on a bare church floor every night for nine months, and she was barred from working or seeking any help from authorities because her immigration status gave her no recourse to public funds.
She is not alone in feeling that way. There are at least 40 children at the school whose parents either cannot work while their immigration status is in doubt or have limited leave to work but no access to welfare including housing or child benefit.
Where the state falls short, the school has stepped in. Whole families appear early for breakfast; at lunch the kitchens cook extra for parents who cannot afford to feed themselves. Teachers write lengthy letters of support for immigration cases. In extreme circumstances, the school even provides clothes, cooking equipment, cots and mattresses for families like the Fowosheles.
Children have arrived at school having slept on night buses, in churches or mosques or in police stations; many are living with their entire families in hostels or in one bedroom, or moving between the living room floors of patient family friends.
The school’s co-head Nicola Noble says: “We treat people here without judgment, and we see time and time again them being judged the minute they walk in the room and that changes as soon as we are there. That is so wrong.”
When children at the school who were born in the UK reach the age of 10, they can begin the long and expensive route of applying for British citizenship. Eighteen children have secured citizenship in the last three years and another nine are currently applying. The cost is £973 per child – highly prohibitive when parents may have no income.
Read the full article Is this the most inspiring school in Britain?
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