Portsmouth Health UNISON have been working closely with our partners at Settled, the charitable arm of campaign group the3million, to raise awareness of the rights of EU Citizens post-Brexit. The government has introduced a new immigration scheme – known as ‘Settled Status’ – for people who wish to stay in Britain after our EU membership ends, and Settled’s mission is ‘to guide, inform and assist EU citizens who are at risk of being left behind due to their specific life circumstances’. Examples of those in danger of missing out include the elderly, people with poor mental health, members of travelling communities or those trapped in abusive relationships.
UNISON Assistant National Officer Katia Widlak is Chair of Trustees for Settled and has been working hard to raise awareness of the potential problems this policy will bring. She said that ‘Portsmouth Health UNISON has done a fantastic job in engaging and supporting their EU members with the settlement scheme application. It was a great pleasure to have a presence at QA Hospital. We reached out to many EU workers who provide vital services in the hospital but also to many members of the public who are directly affected and numerous British people who want to help friends and neighbours in their community. That’s what solidarity looks like’
Portsmouth Health’s Mark Inch, who is a trainee clinical scientist and the branch’s Labour Link and Young Member’s Officer, is one of many UNISON activists who have volunteered to act as a ‘Settled Status Angel’, working in the local community to try and reach as many EU citizens as possible who may struggle with their applications. He feels that ‘European citizens provide essential services for Britain as a whole, including the NHS, regardless of their pay grade, and deserve to be treated with dignity and proper legal representation. Even one European resident missed by this scheme will be one too many’.
The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021. Those affected who have not applied by that date will lose their legal right to be in the UK and will be subject to strict UK immigration rules. Some 80,000 UNISON members and their families are among those affected. You can find more information at Settled’s website here: https://settled.org.uk/en/
Following the success of the information stall more events are planned which will highlight our union at its very best; working to protect vulnerable people and being a champion for inclusion, diversity and fairness. If you would like to know what your branch can do to help then please email Patrick Young at P.Young@unison.co.uk .