We launched the Crawley Connects project in February 2019, to offer advice and casework in minority communities for benefits, immigration, domestic abuse and more. The project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and we work alongside partners Safe in Sussex and Citizens Advice North West Kent, supported by CAP Enterprise.
Crawley Connects Project Lead, Monica Nguru, runs weekly and fortnightly advice sessions at outreaches in the community including Broadfield Library, and community centres in Langley Green and Bewbush.
At the time of writing, we have supported 139 clients so far through this project, many with multiple issues. We have helped clients to successfully challenge unfair immigration decisions, helped people to claim benefits they were entitled to, supported people who were experiencing hate crime, and much more. We have been able to gain more than £160,000 for clients so far, to help them in their daily lives.
Monica Nguru, Project Lead, said:
‘I’m very happy to be part of the Crawley Connects project. We have achieved so much in the last year – not just the number of clients we have been able to help, which has been significant, but the incredibly positive impact we have had in the diverse migrant communities we work in. I am proud to support individuals and families with often life-changing advice. The service has quickly gained a reputation of real trust; word of mouth has been a huge part of its success along with our other communication tools.
The project has really lived up to its name: we’ve been able to make connections with communities, agencies, charities, the DWP, other local organisations doing great work, and of course our partners on the project.
We’re looking forward to helping many more people in our second year and beyond.’
Shaun Fawcett, Service Delivery Manager, added:
‘For a brand new project to help such a lot of people, and achieve the sorts of outcomes it has in the last year, is nothing short of amazing. We have deepened the level of immigration support we can provide, and of course it takes a really skilled adviser to be able to recognise the hidden signs of issues such as domestic abuse, and to be able to ask the right questions. Crawley Connects has been a pleasure to work on.’
In December 2019 Monica supported a parent and child to remain living together in the UK. They have different nationalities; the parent has leave to remain in the UK indefinitely, but the child was only on a multiple entry visa. The parent was very anxious that their child would be sent away from the UK.
As part of the discussion Monica established that the family have no debts or arrears, but that they were not claiming benefits they were entitled to. Monica advised them on their entitlement and helped them with documentary evidence. The client is now claiming benefits, meaning their household finances are improved.
The client successfully applied for EU Settled Status and the Home Office issued their child Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Our client is able to enjoy rights in the UK as settled EU national, and both are able to continue to live in the UK, study, work and use the NHS.
The family reported feeling positive, supported and happy with life, thanking Monica: ‘we really appreciated your kindness and effort, we will be very grateful to you.’