My boys, aged 7, (yes, twins) have started to play chess. It’s a great game of strategy, forward thinking and winning by forcing the King into a place where they can’t move any more. My boys have figured out the rules and love knocking each others’ pieces off the board until it is basically a couple of pieces, plus their kings chasing each other around the board for ages until one of them ultimately gives in and, usually accompanied by a tantrum, walks away.
It’s funny because what I am learning, by helping Anita and her son with their asylum claim to this country (three years in) is that the Home Office seem to like playing these sorts of games too.
Except they know the rules, and are much more experienced players.
And sometimes they seem to add in an extra move or new rule just to try and force a resignation.
This week, we submitted an application for a Judicial Review. We were incredibly lucky that a barrister had offered to prepare the papers free of charge, and accompanied us to the court to give them in. Job done.
Although it wasn’t.
After he left, the clerk informed us that we had to send the bundle of papers to the Home Office in London within 9 days, otherwise the application would not be processed. Anita had to fill in a form (available to download on their website) to send too.
So off we went to action that immediately. Except the form was quite unclear; what to fill in AND where to send it.
Luckily I was able to access further (free) professional support to not only fill in the form correctly, but ensure that it was sent to the right place (not accompanying the bundle to London but to return to the court in Leeds).
And the bundle of papers to London were parcelled up and sent, recorded delivery, too.
The thing is, most asylum seekers don’t have easy access to the internet and a printer. Most would be utterly confused (as we were) by what was needed on the form. Most would not have the disposable income to wrap the parcel securely and send it by recorded delivery (if they knew that’s what to do).
For every one person like Anita, who luckily happened to befriend someone who, whilst completely ignorant of these processes herself, knows where to find help, how many others are forced into submission by this system that seems so unfairly stacked against them?
How many people whose claims for asylum are completely legitimate, just can’t play the game any more?