Eric's story. 'I’ve lived in this country for 22 years... I’m like the Windrush generation. I’m a legal illegal.'
This story was reported on by a Crisis Member who has experienced homelessness themselves, as part of a journalist training opportunity.
‘I’ve lived in this country for 22 years. I came from the US. I was married here, I have children, but now I’m happily divorced. I used to own my own business as a sole trader. It was a design and building company but then the banking crisis happened and the companies I worked for went bankrupt and couldn’t pay me. This knocked me. I managed to get back on my feet through agency work but then things changed. I was told that I wasn’t entitled to work anymore because I didn’t have a Biometric Residence Permit and without this permit, I couldn’t get paid. No-one had told me this before. The permit cost £820. I didn’t have the money for that, and I didn’t know how I would get it.
I became homeless the day before my 54th birthday because I couldn’t pay the rent. I have indefinite leave to remain, but I can’t work because I don’t have that card. I’m like the Windrush generation. I’m a legal illegal. Someone heard my story and set up a JustGiving page to crowdfund the money for the permit for me. I have an immigration law firm helping me pro bono with my case. A solicitor sent off my application for free, and [now] I’m just waiting for the Government to send my card, but I’ve been waiting six months. I still have no benefits. No life. They won’t let me work. They won’t let me do anything because of the Government’s immigration policies.
Eric, Crisis at Christmas Guest, London, 2018.
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