"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Member emails about UK immigration rules forcing relocation to unsafe countries.

Below is an email I received a couple of weeks ago from one of our members, Sue. Shared with her consent.

Sue is a British citizen and grandmother writing to me about how her daughter and grandson, also British citizens, have been left with no choice but to move to Turkey as the only way for the little boy to grow up with his daddy.  There are too many families now divided or living in exile and some, like Sue's, living in a country which it would not be unreasonable to deem unsafe.  

It never ceases to amaze me this conviction, arrogant expectation even, from our politicians that another country must let us - foreigners - in to live with our partner/parent, when they have put in rules which mean own country will not do the same for us.

“Hi Sonel,

Hope you are keeping well under the pressure!!

I just thought I would let you know that my British Daughter and my 4 year old Grandson have returned to Turkey at the weekend to be able to live together with her Turkish Husband and their little Son's Daddy.

It is disgraceful that they have had to return to what is currently an unsafe country all because of Theresa May's pathetic rules for Spouse of Non-EU Citizens.

My Grandson was doing really well at School here in the UK and he was given a Certificate by his Form Teacher last week for his "Fantastic Behaviour and Super Manners", which obviously we are all very proud of for him to achieve this at only 4 years old.  He was born in Turkey and therefore has dual nationality, so he holds a British Passport so that a Visa would not have to be a problem for him to come to the UK with his English Mummy.

Of course, we are all eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court Hearing held on 22nd-24th February 2016.  I personally think that the outcome will be that the rules will have to be changed as the Judges didn't appear very happy at some of the current rules, and the situations that the current rules leave families in. They are discriminatory and it's a pity that Theresa May doesn't have the same opinion as many other politicians, as such:

"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.

"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change" - David Cameron..... So why doesn't he do something about it !!!

And, of course, everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence" - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Everyone has the right to live in safety with their loved ones

The government should work together to ensure families are reunited safely and speedily, especially when it comes to children and other dependent family members. 

Theresa May...(deleted text)…does not care!  "#CrueltyMcCruelFace" !!!

Kind regards,


Mrs Sue XXXX “

Thursday, 21 April 2016

High Court challenge of the ADR rules

UPDATE: Approved judgment is now available here.  Reading it I realise in some parts my hearing was a little selective, and so minor edits have been made to the below to reflect the content of the judgment where my memory doesn't quite square with reality.
__

As many of you will know, BritCits took everyone’s favourite politician to court over the Adult Dependant Relative part of the family immigration rules in force since 9th July 2012.  This was a two day hearing on Tuesday 19th April and Wednesday 20th April at the High Court, in front of Mr Justice Mitting.

We lost the case, but it's not as bad as it sounds. I know, I know.  Mine was the same reaction when the lawyers were reassuring me that the loss was in the best way possible.  Like me, you'd probably have taken a win instead, albeit in the worst way possible.  But we play the cards we are dealt and I think the lawyers are not wrong.  You'll see why below. 

Thank you to all those who attended any part of the hearing - your taking the time out, including annual leave, to be at the hearing helps reinforce the message even to the judge that there are people around who care about these rules, that we have family members we want to be with.  

Note, I’m not a lawyer and combined with a reasonably short concentration span is huge interest in this issue, so the below may well have some errors, will definitely miss out on quite a bit that was discussed, either because the arguments were beyond me or because it was so gripping I was too involved in the hearing to take notes.

The judge did not appear to have any issue with the claimant (us) being an NGO as opposed to a family refused an ADR visa, despite attempts by the HO to sway the judge - he appreciated the detrimental impact of an ADR refusal on even visit visas.
  
Those who spoke at the hearing:
NL – Nathalie Lieven QC (our lawyer) – Landmark Chambers
NS – Neil Sheldon (HO’s lawyer)

Our immense gratitude to Nathalie, and also to Sonal Ghelani and Daniel Rourke, of Migrants' Law Project, and Duran Seddon of Garden Court Chambers.

What's the issue?

Before 9th July 2012, British citizens who wished to sponsor a parent over the age of 65, would have to show the parent was financially dependent on them, and that the sponsor had the means to look after and accommodate their parent, without recourse to public funds.  For elderly parents who were wealthy, and thus not dependent on their British children, there was scope for them to move to the UK as Retired People of Independent Means.  This route too had been closed off.

The only condition earlier, was financial; families were allowed to be together as long as they were not going to be a strain on the taxpayer.  Fair enough.

However, since 9th July 2012 the HO deems that only those who have trouble bathing, dressing or cooking for themselves will be allowed into the UK, and even then only if, the British sponsor can afford to look after them in the UK, but they and their elderly parent cannot obtain care in the parent’s home country, even with the help of any social care, either because it is not available or unaffordable.  

Given most countries will have a cost of living lower than the UK, or those where it is comparable are likely to have social care, I still think the chance of satisfying the criteria is nigh on impossible.  It is ironic given that in the hearing the HO’s entire justification for these rules boiled down to saving the NHS money, they only allow in people who are guaranteed to need a huge amount of medical and social care assistance!

The hearing

Started promptly at 10:30 am on the first day, and at the judge’s request, at 10am the next.  

No anonymity order was made and it was agreed we would rely on the judge's discretion to not divulge personal details of families in the judgment.   There were three grounds that we had put forward as to the illegality of the ADR rules.

1) Immigration Act 1971 requires there 'shall be provision' for dependants.  The rules as they are effectively a ban - and the judge did quote former MP, Sarah Teather who referred to the rules as a 'ban masquerading as a rule' and the APPG on migration report, which said the rules for ADR were 'all but closed'.

Judge seemed very interested in the background behind the IA 1971, including the white paper...he had only been able to locate one from 1965, but nothing more recent than that.  This no doubt made for a busy evening for paralegals in the barrister’s chambers.  The judge did ask where the line should be drawn – for some dependants may mean dependent servants in the country of origin, as the IA doesn’t specify the nature of the dependants.

2) Manshoora Begum – this was a case where it was found unlawful to have rules that discriminated against those living in countries with a lower cost of living than the UK.  One of our arguments was that dependency between parents and children (albeit they are adults now) is beyond financial, it was also social and emotional.  The judge pointed out however that even the pre-2012 rules required financial dependency.

3) Article 8 – the right to private and family life.

The desire to live with and look after elderly relatives.


Judge said he had read all the witness statements, including those from three leading law firms who stated they advised their clients against making an ADR application because it was clear the rules could not be met and that from families; including one from a British citizen living in exile as moving to the UK would mean not being able to sponsor elderly relatives, another a British doctor in the UK whose wife is of English descent, with no ties to the country her in-laws live in, for whom thus relocating abroad is not feasible. 

Justice Mitting seemed keen to explore the drop in grants from around 2000-3000 before the rule change, to 70 (a provisional figure – HO just doesn’t know) in 2014, using the term ‘de minimis’. Despite our asking the HO, we do not have a breakdown of the grants by whether granted within the rules or outside, and by ECO, ECM or tribunal.

Our lawyer pointed out that the sponsors were all law-abiding and skilled citizens – exactly the kind UK would want to attract and retain, and that many would not have moved to the UK had they been aware of rules such as this.  The judge clarified that surely this wasn’t a legitimate expectations challenge, given the immigration rules are subject to change and NL agreed with that, but said it was ‘familial expectation’ as ADR were an integral part of family life.  Also mentioned was our being told by MPs such as Jeremy Hunt that we should learn from Asian cultures in looking after elderly – that the government sets out standards it wants to encourage, yet effectively bars people from doing so.

We cited BMA evidence that over 25% of doctors received their qualifications from outside the EEA and that there was nothing to show the HO had considered lesser alternatives – like private health insurance, a bond or even a minimum income requirement, as was applied to spouses.

The HO response here really peeved me, because they said a MIR would have been contested because of the discrimination against women, those living in certain regions and the less well-off.  How therefore could they justify this for British citizens with foreign spouses, or minor British children with a foreign parent?!  The very same MAC report relied on by the HO for the imposition of an income requirement as per the #MMcase also mentioned an income threshold (much higher than £18600) for ADR.  

It was mentioned that PHI may be quite expensive, however I don’t think any explanation was provided as to why the HO didn’t opt for a bond which could be drawn upon were NHS to be used. 

NS said the rules had been preceded by an extensive consultation, and that the overarching theme of change was to stop abuse and reduce the burden on taxpayers.  He picked and chose a couple of questions from the consultation document to try and support the changes (though I don’t think even these really helped), ignoring the many other questions which made it obvious that the response for the most part was not in support of changes as made.

When the judge mentioned the objective was to remove the routine expectation of settlement for ADR once they reach 65, NS seemed to say no that wasn’t the objective, although the judge did not accept this, citing what he had read in some HO documents, and also mentioning this objective in the judgment.

Moving on to the Policy and Equality Statement, and Statement of Intent, NS said the rules are Article 8 compliant and families can always appeal.  The judge called that a ‘hopeless argument’ and I think said that cannot justify the rules by saying can circumvent it.  NS however said there was no single case in Strasbourg where the ECHR had held that refusal to permit an ADR breached Article 8.

NS said that it was only the success in Quila that created hopes for the English Language Test (Bibi), the MIR (MM case) and now ADR, to which the judge said well it was really because the rules were much more restrictive.

The costs justification fell apart completely, and NS had to concede following some manual calculations undertaken by the judge that the Impact Assessment was flawed, and the assumptions underlying it not realistic.  The judge said the rules saving the UK money did not mean they were proportionate if another less intrusive method could have been adopted.

The first day was very strong for families, whereas the second day there was just too much of the judge nodding along to arguments put forward by NS.  I suspect Justice Mitting had already made up his mind by then on the case, and how high he felt he had authority to go.

The judgment

It was expected that the judgment would be a few months down the line, maybe even after the Supreme Court judgment in Bibi and MM. 

However, when on the second day just before lunch time NL at the end of her submissions asked whether she could respond to some new evidence submitted by NS just that morning within the next 24 hours, the judge said no.  He said he would in his judgment only consider what had been presented at the hearing. 

It became clear why, when he announced he was going to hand down the judgment at 3:30pm that very day!  An ex-tempore judgment which led to a number of jaws dropping. 

The delivery of the judgment took nearly an hour, starting off with the judge quoting from s1(4) of IA 1971, setting out what the pre July 2012 rules were and what the new ones are.  So we were kept in suspense, although when the judge started saying some things in our favour, I knew there was going to be a ‘however’.  L

Justice Mitting mentioned the figures: In the year 2010-11, 2325 ADR visas were granted (figure from 13 June 2011 PES, though figures in the Impact Assessment were slightly different), dropping to 70 in 2014, of which 37 were granted on application and 33 on review or appeal.

The new rules were subject to a negative resolution procedure (something Labour didn’t take up when they should have done) and there was no dissent in the House of Lords. è here I guess supporting the HO claim that the rules did go through proper parliamentary procedure.

Although the justifications behind the rules was presented as stopping abuse, promoting integration and reducing the burden on taxpayers, the judge quoted from Clive Peckover’s statement on behalf of the HO which indicated primary consideration was given to the impact of the new rules on the taxpayer and NHS in particular - if the rules resulted in a reduction in net migration then this was welcome, though not the primary objective. (Pah!)

The table of savings in the impact assessment was once again mentioned with the judge saying he was ‘baffled by the economics’ behind the HO analysis, which indicated a net saving of £10m over ten years, though with a drop of 97% the saving would be higher, even allowing for the fall in fee revenue.  However, no exercise was undertaken by the HO to value the loss to the UK from the departure of British citizens leaving the country in order to live with their ADR.

The judge commented on the consistent evidence from three reputable lawyers and the APPG report, that the ADR route was ‘all but closed’, and that if the UKBA figures were right, this meant that applications now were 23% of that before the change, and grants only 3%.

On our Ground 1, the judge considered what aims of the statute were being pursued.  He quoted Lord Dyson and said that parliament imposes no obligation on the SoS to allow in everyone; she can pick and choose, even if this means limiting the category of dependants to a sub-category.  I didn’t quite get this because he also quoted from instructions issued to caseworkers in 1970 which provided for admission of widowed parents at any age, and elderly parents above 65 where those involved were Commonwealth citizens, or the same for ‘Aliens’ but with the age reduced to 60.  No one could explain why the difference, especially with aliens apparently being treated more generously.

Judge declared ‘the challenge on the ultra-vires/Padfield challenge fails’.  

Moving on to the other two grounds; he said there is a common law duty on the SoS to not accommodate discrimination e.g. Manshoora Begum.  He said the rules as they now are ‘exceptionally difficult but not impossible’.  However, quoted from Huang in saying ‘humans are social animals...’

He said while it was not necessary to set out the details from witness statements given it was personal info being dealt with discretion, the statements were taken into account in his judgment.

He agreed that the new rules were ‘certain to interfere with the family life’ of the frail and elderly parents, as well as a significant number of British citizen sponsors, and their spouses and children in the UK. How?

·      Ability of the ADR to interact with the sponsors - children, grandchildren, and vice-versa
·      The right of the sponsor and family to provide physical and emotional support to the ADR, and for the ADR to receive this from family, not strangers

By limiting the leave to only those who need personal care, family life was being interfered with for elderly who are fit.  He went on to say that it was unsurprising in the three First Tier Tribunal cases shared with him, the judge had concluded family life did exist and that a refusal would interfere in a significant way.  In Justice Mitting’s view, these conclusions were likely to be replicated in many cases.

The question thus was, under Article 8 is this interference proportionate?

He applied the proportionality test, asking whether a fair balance had been achieved, including
  1. Was the objective sufficiently important to justify interference
  2. Were the rules rationally connected to the objective
  3. Were lesser alternatives available to achieve the same objective


Lord Neuberger from Bibi (2015) was quoted and Justice Mitting stated that the ‘ADR rule is not reasonable to impose’, because
  •  It has had a much heavier impact on families than was suggested to Parliament.  Theresa May did not say it would lead to a 97% drop in ADR grants!
  • If a financial measure was adopted for savings, HO failed to take account of the loss from sponsors leaving the UK.
  • Alternative methods to reduce the burden on taxpayers, such as private health insurance or a bond (as is the case in other s38 cases – I have no idea what this is) were not considered.


Therefore, the judge said Free of authority, therefore, I would not have hesitated to consider the lawfulness on the ground of proportionality of the rule and, if I had found it to be disproportionate and so unlawful, to declare it so.  However, I believe that I am bound by authority to do otherwise.’  (I was totally like whaaaaat, no you’re not bound, you're not bound!)

He referred to something Justice Aikens said in the #MMcase at the Court of Appeal, and paragraph 69 of Bibi:

“ 69. For the reasons which I discuss below, I think that there may be a number of cases in which the operation of the Rule in terms of the current guidance will not strike a fair balance. But there may also be many cases in which it will. The court would not entitled to strike down the Rule unless satisfied that it was incapable of being operated in a proportionate way and so was inherently unjustified in all or nearly all cases: R (MM (Lebanon)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] 1 WLR 1073, paras 133 and 134 per Aikens LJ. As a result, the appellants fail to show that the rule itself is an unjustifiable interference with article 8 rights.”

The judge went on to say something about how he could get around this, but that it was not for a High Court judge to get around Court of Appeal...and so the ‘Article 8 challenge too fails….claim dismissed’. And the hearts of all but four people (HO legal team) in that courtroom broke.

However, what followed was more positive. We were immediately given permission to appeal nad when our lawyer stood up to discuss the costs BritCits must pay the Home Office, the judge interrupted to say ‘but you will want a stay on the costs order pending the appeal’. 

Normally to appeal my understanding is that you must first obtain permission, which requires oral or written submissions– however the judge granted us permission without requiring any such submissions needed.

So why do I think this judgment, though not in our favour isn’t all that bad?

  • We have already been given permission to appeal by the same judge who ruled against us – he himself sees merit in the case going further. 
  • If the judge felt he was not authorised to deem the rules unlawful, better he tell us straight away than months down the line.  While perhaps he could have waited for the Supreme Court judgment which would overrule the Court of Appeal judgment he had cited feeling unable to go against, what would that have achieved? Even if the SC judgment may have worked in our favour and allowed Justice Mitting to deem the rules unlawful, Home Office would have appealed further anyway and we’d just be delaying the whole process by another a few months.
  • My understanding is that Justice Mitting is known for being more conservative than liberal - so if a conservative judge agrees the rules are not proportional, that may well carry more weight at the appeal.  Yes a conservative judge ruling in our favour would carry even more weight, but, I think the proportionality comments he made are very helpful.
  • This judgment, once publicly available, should help families whose applications are at FtT, because reference can be made to a High Court judge questioning the proportionality of the rules 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Dominic, Katy and Madeline - Family of the Week

"All of us who find ourselves unable to live here with our spouse never expected this betrayal of our rights as British citizens, locked out of our own country and now exiled."


Dominic is a British citizen.  He is married to Katy, from America, and the couple has a daughter, Madeline, also British.


The couple met online in 2005 when Katy heard a song by a band Dominic was in - Graystar. The song was called Cry No More.  She fell in love with her now husband and his music and has not looked back since.  


The family got in touch with BritCits when Dominic in early April 2016 was refused the right to live in the UK - his home country - with his family.  The family has asked them to re-consider, based on the fact that the couple has been married for nine years, and their British daughter has lived half her life here.


This is not just Dominic’s home, being born and raised in Britain, it is also Madeline's home.  She has a wonderful life here with her grandparents, aunties and uncles, five cousins and her friends at nursery and community in Eastbourne. 

In their visa application the family included fifteen letters of support, including personal messages from close friends, their doctor, Madeline's nursery, their parish priest and bank manager.  They told the Home Office that Katy has lived and worked in the UK before, for over three years as Dominic’s wife, when they married in 2006.  She has never claimed benefits, pays her taxes, lives a productive life in the UK and even speaks English fluently.  The ties in their local community are strong.

Dominic’s family with their application included stories of how his ancestors fought and died in wars for the UK, to secure the freedom of future generations. But it was all to no avail.  The Home Office refused their application on grounds that breaking a family apart is reasonable and justifiable, even though Madeline's life will be torn apart.

Home Office said that Dominic and his daughter can remain in the UK because they are British.  It also informs them that Katy can leave the UK because “it is considered that there are no concerns regarding the safety and welfare of your daughter as she would be with her father in the UK.”

Dominic never believed back in 2009 when they decided to spend a couple of years in USA, that they wouldn't be able to come back and live here.  At the time they’d lived in Edinburgh for nearly three years, and Katy was holding a spouse visa, granted in 2007 which enabled her to work the whole time and enjoy their first few years of marriage together in Britain.

Dominic now rues the day he decided to try life in America for a temporary period in 2009; he had no idea that the UK government would shut the door on his family, and deny them the right to live here as a family.  He feels betrayed at being locked out of his own country.

Since 2012, the family has been exiled from the life in the UK they very much crave.  Their intention was always to have their child brought up with the large and close-knit family in Britain.


However, in 2014, two years after the government imposed a price on love, Katy managed to gain an intra-company transfer, thereby a Tier 2 visa, paid for by her employer.  This allowed her to live in the UK and the family once again and hopes of a life in the UK rekindled.  Alas, just four months into her new role Katy was made redundant as a result of world-wide restructuring.   Without a valid visa, the family was forced to leave the UK.  It was a terrible blow.

Dominic felt his like America was empty and unhappy, he fell victim to depression.  The family was isolated in America; their relationship with the family in the UK turned into a Skype one.

Their local MP, Caroline Ansell, told them these rules were never meant to affect genuinely married couples like them.  So in August 2015, Dominic and Katy decided to move to the UK and apply, prepared to appeal.  In April 2016, the Home Office presented the couple with a refusal letter.  They now have 14 days to appeal and hope that a judge will see sense where the Home Office refuses to.  However, the appeals process will take around a year – they don’t want to wait that long.  They’re not sure they can afford to.

It seems odd to Dominic that his ancestors died fighting for the UK in the Great War, his great uncle died on D-Day.  Multiple generations of his family have lived here and Dominic has not ever broken a single law in his life – he hasn’t even ever been unemployed since marrying Katy. 

There is no answer when Dominic asks “Do I not deserve the right to live in my own country with my British daughter and wife of nearly 10 years? My wife has a degree, has an excellent work history and offers so much to this country with her skills and work ethic.”

The family is aware that they can apply based on Dominic’s income of £18,600 once he has a job paying that much.  However even then they would have to be apart for a year, because of the evidential requirements necessitated by the rules and the application processing time.

It is an immoral, brutal policy which has no place in British life. 

This is yet another example of how unjust, how fundamentally destructive this Conservative government is with its immigration policies; how careless and negligent the Home Office is with the crucial, fundamental right of a citizen, the very right that Dominic’s ancestors fought for in the wars: the right to live freely in one's own country.  

The couple has started a petition which they hope others will sign in a show of support which may just aid their appeal.

BC Newsletter - 9th March 2016

The most recent newsletter from 9th March 2016  is now online, covering:
  • ILPA Family immigration event
  • Fascinating insight into surnames
  • Family of the Week - Salli, Izzat and Layla
Previous versions are available by clicking on 'Past Issues' on the top left hand side at the link above.

If you'd like to receive the newsletters directly into your inbox, please sign up here.

Monday, 7 March 2016

BC newsletter - 4th March 2016

The newsletter from 4th March 2016  is now online, covering:
  • Increase in immigration fees
  • ADR update
  • MM in the news
  • Family of the Week - Hayley and Manuel
Previous versions are available by clicking on 'Past Issues' on the top left hand side at the link above.

If you'd like to receive the newsletters directly into your inbox, please sign up here.

Salli, Izzat and Layla - Family of the Week

"I have never been so stressed and depressed in my life. Even if I work I would be extremely lucky to get a job offering a salary of £18,600"

Salli is a British citizen.  Some time ago, Salli went to South Korea where she worked for several years.  Over there she met and fell in love with Izzat, from Uzbekistan.  Izzat was a student at a local university there.

Izzat and Salli

In the natural course of a relationship, the couple planned their lives together - to get married, live in England, progress with their careers and then have children.

In December 2014, Salli went to Uzbekistan for the marriage with his parents blessing.  At the time, she had no idea that the immigration rules had changed.  Salli was assured by her friends that as a British citizen she would have no issues living in England wiht her husband.

It was while Salli was in Uzbekistan that she found out she was pregnant; however she had to leave Uzbekistan as her visa there was nearing its end; she no longer had a valid visa for South Korea either, having left her job there.  So Sally returned to England.

Once here, Salli and her husband decided to apply for a spouse visa - and that's when they came across the financial requirements which were impossible for the newly married couple to meet.  Salli managed to get a part time job and saved a little bit of money to add to her savings in excess of £10,000.  Salli's mum said she was willing to support them as well, and co-sponsor Salli's husband.

However, the rules of course ignore any savings under £16,000 and third party support, even from a parent, is no longer allowed.

So Salli went through the pregnancy without her husband.  He was also refused a visa to witness the birth of their daughter, Layla.  Salli is struggling as a single parent and diagnosed with post-natal depression.

Layla, is now over six months old but has never been held by her father.  In sending BritCits photos, Salli said 'as you know, there are no photos of us [three] together'.

Salli and Layla
Salli has been forced into the position of a single mother claiming benefits which she has never had to do before; all her savings were used up in trying to sponsor her husband for a spouse or visit visa, and furnishing her home.
  
With Salli's sister also recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and now given only a few months to live, Salli can't even think of leaving the UK, nor focus on getting a full time job with a baby to look after alone.  

She told us "I have never been so stressed and depressed in my life. Even if I work I would be extremely lucky to get a job offering £18,600 salary. Maintaining a long distance relationship under all this stress has been extremely difficult at times."

Salli and Layla
When asked why she doesn't just go and live in Uzbekistan, Salli says she and her daughter are both British, she has the right to be here and her daughter has the right to be brought up here.  Uzbekistan is also a developing country; education, healthcare, work and living conditions are all better in the UK compared with Uzbekistan.

"This is the best place to raise my family and I shouldn't have to choose between my husband and providing the best life for my family."

Sunday, 6 March 2016

February BC newsletters

Recent newsletters are now online/
  • 13th February - EU deal analysis, ADR, MM case, Cameron FB video and Family of the Week, Ethan
  • 21st February - EU deal confirmation, MM case
  • 26th February -   MM case hearing, art work and MM in the news
Previous versions are available by clicking on 'Past Issues' on the top left hand side at the link above.
If you'd like to receive the newsletters directly into your inbox, please sign up here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Hayley and Manuel - Family of the Week


“I will give this country my all. In return I hope it gives me back my husband.”

Hayley is a British citizen. Between the ages 10 and 17, Hayley lived in Spain.

She is now 19 years old and is mother to 4-year old Byron.  Even though she was only 14 when she fell pregnant, despite being so young she decided to keep the baby.  Even at that age Hayley knew all she wanted was a family.

When the father of her baby turned abusive – emotionally, mentally and sexually - Hayley suffered for three years.  She was alone in Spain without financial independence and only her son as family – she felt like she had nowhere to turn.  There were times she considered committing suicide, but obtained strength and hope from her son, who also was her impetus to find the courage to escape.  She decided she did not want her son to witness the abuse; to see his mother being beaten and raped.

Hayley returned home, to England, believing here she would be safe.  She had many dreams.  She would continue her education and provide her son with a good life.  She felt free and ready for a fresh start.  However, the abuse had left its scars and Hayley sought therapy for the resulting depression, nightmares, flashbacks and general negativity.  Nothing seemed to bring about closure to allow her to truly move on.

It was then that Hayley met Manuel.  A police officer from Colombia who had been sent to England to learn English.  They immediately became great friends and then the relationship developed into more.  Seven years older than her, Manuel provides Hayley with the stability and maturity she needs. He is intelligent, kind and wonderful with children, including Byron.

Manuel understood Hayley’s pain.  He encouraged her to accept the past and love herself.  He would playfight with her, give her a reason to smile every time he walked into the room. 

For Hayley and Byron, their lives changed with Manuel’s presence.  He provided the happiness that had been missing and hope that their future could be bright after all.  They planned to marry in August 2012, before Hayley started university in October.


Just when everything was going well, it happened. The rules changed.

Hayley was devastated.  Here she was about to embark on university, with her husband by her side. And now she was being told employment not education should be her priority.  However at the age of 18, without a university degree, Hayley did not see how she would be able to get a job that paid over £18,600 anyway. 

So Manuel left England.  Hayley felt the effects of depression again, was referred to a mental health department and then diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Everything suddenly made sense.  She wasn't crazy.  She had just been affected by many things and finding happiness just to lose it again, felt worse than ever.

Hayley’s doctor recommended she defer university until she was better.  So Hayley decided to go to Colombia to be with Manuel instead.

Hayley and Byron joined Manuel in December 2012, though she immediately realised that Colombia wasn't where she wanted to be as it was dangerous and didn't offer good education for her son, let alone any future children she and Manuel may have.

She cried and cried; thinking about England night after night.  Manuel would simply tell her that one day she’ll be able to come home again. 

The stress caused further health problems, with Hayley suffering from chronic gastritis and IBS.  The doctors recommended she relax and return home where it would be safer.

Hayley ignored the medical advice - she did not want to leave Manuel.  In May 2013, the couple got married – not only making them feel like the happiest couple on earth, but providing Byron with his wish to have a daddy who would love and raise him.   Hayley feels every day that she and Byron are lucky to have found such a wonderful man.

When Manuel however was posted in an even more dangerous part of Colombia, they agreed it would be safer for Hayley and Byron to return home.

Hayley has since been in London seeking employment paying over £18,600.  She is spending a lot of money on babysitters just so she can attend interviews. She has given up on her dream of going to university.  She is heartbroken and at a loss as to what to tell Byron when he asks why his daddy is not with them.  How can she explain to a 4-year old that mummy doesn’t earn enough for the government to let daddy in.

Manuel is a good hardworking man. He isn’t a criminal nor someone who will sponge off the system or other people.  He is willing to leave his home and career to ensure a better life for his wife and stepson.  Manuel is now not only Hayley’s husband, he is also Byron’s daddy. 

Out of the first four months of their marriage, they have only been able to live together for one.  Hayley feels that she hasn’t even had the chance to yet learn what it feels like to be a wife. 

She feels betrayed and cheated by her own government.  How is it they expect her to find a job paying £18,600 while having a child to look after, being forced once again into single parenthood?  She needs time to heal and excessive stress is more likely to play havoc with her health.

Hayley is determined to help other people and has written a book about her experience.  She hopes to prevent teenage pregnancies and raise awareness of rape and domestic violence.  She is now an author having self-published her first book through Kindle, “Lead towards the unknown”. 

She has dreams and is prepared to give the UK her all.  In return she hopes the UK would just allow her to live with her husband.