October 13, 2021 | 12:30 am – 13:30 pm (CET Time)

Language: English

Topic: Facing deportation or extradition proceedings? Using social work knowledge to uphold human rights and social justice

Contributor: Ruth Stark

People who arrive in the UK can often find themselves without a legal migration status for 15-25 years. They live without recourse to public funds; they may spend periods of time in immigration detention centres. They live in limbo, stateless and in the shadows of our communities. They cannot access work, health or tertiary education.

Children are required to attend school until 16 from an environment of destitution and poverty. If they are lucky, they get £36 per week to live on, accommodation through the state is often inadequate, using old hotels and hostels that have already been abandoned. Jenny Erpenbeck describes such communities in Berlin in her riveting book Go, Went, Gone (2018). Sometimes people are accused and convicted of crimes in the country in which they are living. In the UK a sentence of 12 months imprisonment results in consideration of deportation.

This may include people who previously had Leave to Remain. Equally a foreign government may apply for Extradition if you are alleged to have committed a crime there. In recent years I have worked as an independent social worker undertaking assessments and preparing reports, attending court as an expert witness to help inform the decision making in these proceedings. The challenge to the practitioner is bringing together expertise that we have come to describe in silo specialisms of social work – child development, child protection, mental health, poverty and destitution, international social work, discrimination, criminal justice, social justice and human rights.

People have complex journeys that need to be understood. There is always trauma…. This workshop explores social work as a resource for people to support their claims for social and human rights. It offers a reflection on where social work might focus its skills in the future. Format presentation and discussion