CRP notes: The one when Citizens Rights Project Travelled to the West

Embarking on a mission to extend support beyond its Edinburgh base, the Citizens Rights Project (CRP) recently travelled westward to Craignure (Isle of Mull) and Oban. In a bid to assist EU migrants, CRP provided essential aid to 15 individuals navigating the complexities of the EU Settlement Scheme. This included 5 children, people with no access to Internet and smartphones, and a person with No Recourse to Public Funds. This behind-the-scenes glimpse into CRP’s journey highlights the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, showcasing the challenges faced and the impact made along the way.

Being spontaneous

There is usually a lot of planning involved before we go to certain places with a support clinic, an information session, or a workshop. We first research the need within the local communy, contactlocal organisations and support providers to make sure the whole endeavour is as useful as possible, and we are not travelling somewhere in vain. Sometimes however, there is unexpected opportunity that pops up and it’s impossible to walk past it. This is exactly how we ended up on the train to the West coast of Scotland.

It all started when a French national contacted us at the end of 2023 to support him switching from pre-settled to settled status. The client did not have access to Internet, a computer or a smartphone so we could guide him from our office in Edinburgh, and so arrangements needed to be put in place so we could support this person. The client was happy to travel to Oban and so our EUSS caseworker talked to the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Oban to ensure that he receives technical support to be able to submit an online application. After a few conversations, however, the client mentioned that the rest of his family, another family, and some other people living nearby would also need the same help. It turned out that it was 12 people in total! There was no way to arrange for all of them to visit CAB and help them remotely, so a month later we found ourselves on the train to Oban where we took the ferry to Craignure on Isle of Mull.


In the land of fairies

How challenging it is to travel in the West of Scotland in March, we could experience as early as in the train to Oban when we received information that our ferry was cancelled. Calling the ferry company to get the information about rescheduling is not easy when you are in the train going through Scottish Highlands, where the mobile signal is a luxury, not a given thing. Luckily for us, we got to Craignure only slightly later than we intended to, and after short walk through the Fairy Glen, we reached our hotel. The next day welcomed us with a great weather that made us regret we haven’t come there for longer. Sharing the workload between three of us, we managed to submit record breaking 9 EUSS applications in 3 hours, before we could enjoy probably the most picturesque lunch we ever had at work (and well deserved one!). We could try the local specialities served by Community Café that operated in Craignure Village Hall… only once a week, exactly the day we decided to come there. The Force was definitely with us during this trip!

While we are here…

As it is in our nature to cease every opportunity, we thought that while we are in Oban, we could organise something for EU nationals living there as well. We immediately contacted several organisations there, and after a very quick reply from Carr Gomm, a social care charity, we ended up joining their drop-in session on Wednesday morning, a day after our support clinic in Craignure.

Among others, we successfully  finalise the application of a client who is in a very vulnerable situation, a complex case we have been diligently supporting for the past 18 months. This trip proved instrumental as we were able to accompany the client in person to the local authority, obtaining the crucial evidence requested by the Home Office for their much-needed settled status..  This individual, lacking any form of income, relies solely on the generosity of neighbors for sustenance. We eagerly await a swift decision from the Home Office, which will not only grant them the stability they deserve but also render them eligible for essential support from local organizations, spanning housing, medical care, and financial assistance.

This trip to Oban also allow us to establish closer relationships with local organisations which may be beneficial for our activities in the future. Most definitely, it won’t be the last time we visit Oban!

Do you know a group of EU nationals in your local community/neighbourhood in Scotland needing support or information about the EU Settlement Scheme? Get in touch with us at info@citizensrightsproject