Our book of stories was published last year, and we are not planning to do a sequel at this time. We are still collecting stories to publish here on the site.
Whether you are directly affected by the them, or are called to act about them for other reasons, talking about the Rules is the single most important thing you can do.
Fewer people know about the Rules and their effect than ought to.
If everyone in the UK knew about the Rules and their impact on the divided families, the Rules would change in an instant.
There are a few reasons it is really difficult to talk about the Rules:
1. The Rules are complicated and it can be difficult to feel confident speaking about them – somehow feeling like you don’t have ownership of all the information.
My response is that for you to have an effective conversation about the Rules, you don’t need to know every single tiny detail of the complex policy. That level of knowledge is essential for government ministers, Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs)*, for lawyers, campaign organisations, NGOs, journalists and for those of us heavily involved in the campaign who have a responsibility to command that knowledge. You simply need to know enough to have an active conversation.
Key facts for talking about the Rules:
- The UK currently has in place a system of Human Rights Tiering based on how much people earn.
- It affects everyone in the UK, but generally only those with family members outside the EEA (European Economic Area) know about it as they are the ones coming into contact with the Rules.
- For families without children, the reduced level of Human Rights is for those who earn less that £18,600.
- For families with children, the reduced level of Human Rights is for those who earn less than £22, 400 (one child); £24, 800 (two children); £27,200 (three children) and keeps rising and extra £2,400 with every child in your family.
- It is almost impossible for someone living here in the UK to bring an elderly parent from outside the EEA to live with them. Even if there is nobody else in the world for that relative to live with.
- Applying an economic model to Human Rights doesn’t work.
- The Rules mean that more than 50,000 UK families have faced immigration trauma and untold anguish.
- It is projected that the Rules will cost the UK £850 million over 10 years.
- The Rules are presented as a means of preventing families costing the UK money, but this is simply untrue, and the Government knew that when the Rules were pushed through Parliament in 2012.
- If the Rules stay in place, they ‘set a precedent’ in UK law for our other human rights to be reduced in an economic tiering system.
*That said, the ECOs are poorly trained, under qualified and under a massive amount of pressure as they work within an administrative system which repeatedly demonstrates it is not fit for purpose. Often they do not have adequate knowledge of the details of the Rules and they often make basic mistakes that result in applications being turned down and families being kept apart unnecessarily.
2. There is a lot of very loud conversation in the UK about immigration at the moment, and it can feel difficult and scary to get into that conversation.
I hear you. Being on the receiving end of xenophobic, racist and hateful talk isn’t fun. Being on the receiving end of white privileged talk isn’t fun either. And some of the conversations you have may involve some of those things.
Remember, you don’t have to convince the other person, or solve all of the UK’s fearful island mentality in one conversation. You’re not necessarily looking for resolution or agreement. By sharing the info you have about the Rules you are raising awareness about the Rules and their impact. And that’s all you have to do.
Something else to know, and trust in, is that the overwhelming majority of UK voters (including Conservative and UKIP voters) think that UK citizens with family members from outside the EEA should get to live with them here. The Conservative Think Tank Bright Blue have researched it. When people fully understand what you are talking about, they are likely to be in agreement.
In conversation, it is very easy for all of us (whatever perspective we approach the issue from) to buy into what can seem like a very reasonable economic model. But as you know, the economic model is incorrect and the Rules are projected to cost the UK £850 million over 10 years, as well as the impacting more than 50,000 British families to date.
3. Finally, for those of us in the divided families who are directly affected by the Rules: when someone responds negatively to your story and agrees with the Rules, it can hurt in a really profound way. Our stories, and the love they are filled with, are precious and delicate. When someone, purposely or accidentally, seeks to attack them or undervalue them it feels hugely personal and can be disabling.
There are two ways of dealing with this:
Firstly, forgive yourself and the other person for what happened in that part of the conversation. Then make the effort to really, really look after yourself and treat yourself with kindness if this does happen to you. Phonecalls with supportive people, tea and sympathy, walking the dog and getting the pain out of your system: do whatever you need to do. Find a way to release that negative energy and the fear that comes with it. Keeping it in your body can be disabling. Find a way to get yourself free of it when it does happen.
Secondly, protect yourself from it happening when you can. You don’t have to tell everyone your own personal story – sometime it is clear that they aren’t in a position to receive it positively. If you’re in a conversation with someone about the Rules and you feel that you’re in touch with their humanity, then feel free to go ahead and share your story with them if you want. If your conversation doesn’t feel a place where your story will be met with kindness, then perhaps this moment isn’t the right time.
The Britcits site is one of the best resources on the net about this issue. As well as bookmarking, it’s worth a good look around and a good read of the info on there. They are a brilliant group of people doing amazing things.
If you read the update yesterday this should come as no surprise to you, as there were lots of links to Britcits in yesterday’s post.
Welcome to the first day of the Love Letters ‘What Can I Do?’ Guide.
Each day at noon (on the days that a busy theatre work schedule allows) there will be a post about one thing you can do to raise awareness about the divided families campaign.
Some of those things include communicating with your local MP, but as the UK Parliaments are on recess at the moment we will be starting with other things.
The actions will be collated on the What Can I Do? Guide page on the site.
What I can do is: save these dates
Three important dates for your diary:
1st December 2015
Flag this as a day to come back to this site and find out if the MM Case (the test case against the financial requirement of the 2012 Rules) has a confirmed date yet. It will be heard in the Supreme Court in January or February 2016.
14th February 2016
There is often a protest about the Rules on Valentine’s Day. You can check out the Britcits website for info about this.
9th July 2016
The 9th of July is the anniversary of the Rules. Each year since they were introduced in 2012, there has been a protest outside the Home Office on the anniversary. Once again, the Britcits site is a good place to look for information about this.
There will be a reading of the Love Letters to the Home Office theatre show on Thursday 13th August 22.30 at the Edinburgh Fringe. The performance will be in Paines Plough’s ROUNDABOUT at Summerhall as part of the Earlier/Later programme.
We are delighted to be joined by some amazing guest artists for the reading.
Tickets are £10, or £7 concessions, with a special price of £4 for families affected by the Rules.
Expect a longer post about this in the next day or so, but for now, please take five minutes to read the briefing document on the Migrants Rights website which shows that the Home Office fiddled figures so Family Visa migrants appear to be a burden on the UK taxpayer.
It appears that the income requirement will actually COST taxpayers £850m over 10 years.
And that the justification that the Human Rights tiering based on income for families with members from outside the EEA is lawful because it protects the good of the whole country (this is the grounds on which the HO won the Court of Appeal judgement last year)… that justification is demonstrated to be untrue in the briefing document.
Angry about the fact that Government have specifically misled the British public about cost to the taxpayer of the 2012 Migration Rules?
Three simple things you can do:
1. Have a read of the Migrants Rights briefing document.
2. Write to your MP, asking them to introduce an Early Day Motion to investigate the deliberate misleading of the public about the 2012 Family Migration Rules.
3. Post here to tell us that you have done it, and who your MP is, so that we can keep track.
For those that cannot be with us in person, we are broadcasting the two Love Letters to the Home Office performances on Skype, and on Periscope.
The performances are Thursday 30th April (tomorrow) and Friday 1st May.
The group Skype call will start at 8.45pm BST for a pre-show chat.
Please mute your mics unless you are speaking as this prevents echo and helps to keep the call clear.
At 9.10pm BST we will ask you to turn off your video feeds (you will still be able to see the show video) and turn off you mics.
You will still be able to type in the Skype text box.
The whole performance (75mins) will go out on Skype and the actors have been working with the camera in rehearsals so you will be very included in the show.
After the show we will leave the connection up for at least 20 mins so you can talk to each other.
The Skype call will be hosted on Skype name: the-same-sky
Send a contract request and ask to be added.
Periscope is an app that only be used on an iPhone. It is free to download. You need to login with a Twitter account.
We will be broadcasting the show on Periscope from 9.10pm BST.
We will be broadcasting through the Twitter account “@lovelettershome”
Tickets are now on sale for our performances at Battersea Arts Centre.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!
We send love this Valentine’s Day to all those affected by the Family Migration Rules.
To those separated still, and those together at last.
To those awaiting the results of applications, and those in the process of appealing mistaken results.
We send special energy and good wishes to those that have been parted by death before they were able to overcome the rules. We acknowledge you especially on this day.
Sending love to all, and love to each. Our hearts are with you.