She told The Big Issue: “All we want to do is contribute positively to this country. During the pandemic, we were all part of what went on, we are all part of the suffering that every other person went through. There should be consideration for us.”
The report highlighted how charities have been forced to step in and fill the void. In Chiyoma’s case, she was able to get health care after being referred to Doctors of the World.
She said her experiences during the pandemic, because of her undocumented status, were “hell.”
She said: “Part of the reason we chose the western world is because of the fairness and the human rights policies. But I felt like the system was against me in everything.”
Break the cycle of poverty for good
Big Futures is calling on the Government to put in place a plan and policies to break this cycle of poverty for good. We are calling for long-term solutions to meet the biggest issues faced in the UK today – the housing crisis, low wages and the climate crisis. Dealing with these issues will help the UK to protect the environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing of future generations. So that young people and future generations have a fair shot at life. Join us and demand a better future.
Baroness Heather Hallett will chair the upcoming inquiry, which is set to begin its work in spring. Its terms of reference are yet to be announced.
The JCWI report, titled “We Also Want To Be Safe”, also recommended an end to data sharing between the NHS and the Home Office, and for an end to the offence of illegal working.
It highlighted how a person’s immigration status can affect their access to healthcare – and how willing they are to access it.
Maria (not her real name), an undocumented migrant from the Philippines, said her experiences during the pandemic had left her “devastated and stressed”.
Maria lost her immigration status after the law changed to stop domestic workers renewing their visas. During the pandemic, she said employers had refused to pay her wages she had earned while working for them.
She told The Big Issue: “You don’t have money at all, because the employer – if you’re undocumented, they’re not going to pay you. They’re going to sack you immediately.”
She added: “I want only to ask them, with undocumented people, just treat us like humans. We are the same – we need to live, we need to work.”