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July 2021 VODW Update

Welcome to our newsletter - as always, we'd appreciate it if you could share this with your network!

Solidarity

Consultation on National Minimum Wage and Impact of the Family Worker Exemption

The UK Government has asked the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to review and provide evidence on effects of the National Living Wage (NWL) and the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for their recommendation on 2022 rates. The review includes the impact of the family member exemption to live-in domestic workers; this is set-out in section 57(3) of the NMW which means live-in domestic workers are not entitled to the NMW if treated as members of the family. The Government has asked the LPC to gather evidence one the application of this exemption and to present findings on its use, its impact on the labour market and its impacts from an equalities standpoint.

The LPC has invited The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW) to provide oral evidence. Ten of our members had a meeting with 3 LPC commissioners in on-line Zoom hosted by VODW. Our members used their lunch break to meet with LPC. While LPC was clear about the NMW and Family Member Exemption was discussion only, the members enlightened LPC commissioners on the changes made by Government on Overseas Domestic Worker Visa which made them automatically undocumented when their 6 Months Non-renewable visa entry expired as well as on why in the first place they couldn’t access the NMW and additionally, how even accessing the National Referral Mechanism doesn’t protect them.

"My work is unlimited but my pay is limited and abusive," Karen told the LPC commissioners.

Pledge your Support for Migrant Domestic Workers

The campaign to reinstate the Pre-2012 Overseas Domestic Workers Visa is an ongoing campaign that has been repeatedly rejected by the UK government and we will continue to campaign until we get Domestic Workers’ rights restored. 

Read our Open Letter to the Home Secretary Pritti Patel and to the Minister of Home Office Kevin Poster.

To write letter to MPs to pledge your support , check our website for an information letter template.

To ratify and implement the ILO C189 Decent Work for Domestic Workers, please SIGN HERE.

The New Plan for Immigration:
The Closure of our Freedom

The free movement with the European Union ended on 31 December 2020. The UK Government has been very busy introducing many new reforms on the current immigration system. The Nationality and Border Bill is just one of the many plans which the UK Government has claimed to fix the broken asylum system and break the business model of people trafficking gangs facilitating illegal crossing into the UK. But where the Government claims to fix, they actually mean to make it harder for migrants to seek refuge.

The overhaul of asylum rules will deter migrants from attempting to cross the channel with prison sentences that will increase from six months to four years of imprisonment and life imprisonment for convicted smugglers. It is inhumane and unlawful to criminalise people who are seeking protection as campaigners including VODW dismissed the anti-refugee bill. Read HERE the response of the government to the consultation.

URGENT: Act now to protect refugees from Priti Patel's New Plan. The UK government wants to turn away as many refugees as possible!

Priti Patel's 'New Plan for Immigration' will:⠀                                              
❌ Put people at risk of being sent back to torture and persecution⠀⠀          
❌ Make it more difficult for torture survivors to build a new life in the UK⠀
❌ Prevent families from being reunited⠀

SIGN THE PETITION

Regularisation for Undocumented Migrants

The motion to regularise undocumented migrants has been signed by 74 members of the parliament and has been tabled on May 2021. This recommendation was submitted by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).

Read We are Here: Routes to regularisation for the UK’s undocumented population. Debate in

Parliament was held on in response to the 103,440 signatures on the petition to ‘Grant an urgent Amnesty to undocumented Migrants living in the UK’’. The government responded: "The Immigration Rules already provide for undocumented migrants to regularise their status where appropriate, but such a provision would unduly reward those who have not complied with immigration law.’’

Read the parliament debate HERE.

My Home is not My Home Film and Exhibit in PHM, Manchester!

WATCH: Our promo for My Home is Not My Home at the People's History Museum here!

This film and exhibition was one of the opening exhibits of  People's History Museum (PHM) film May 19 to July 11. Four members of the VODW were joined by Dr. Joyce Jiang, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, York University and collaborated with Tassia Kobylinska, lecturer at Goldsmith University of London during the visit to the PHM. Lisa, Mark and Alex have toured us around PHM. 

MY HOME IS NOT MY HOME is an exhibition and video installation made by The Voice of Domestic Workers, a group of migrant domestic workers. It gives a unique and intimate insight into a hidden world of exploitation, abuse and ultimately, strength in solidarity and community.

Covid-19 Updates: Access to Health Surgeries and Vaccines

In light of many GP practices across the UK's wrongful refusal of domestic workers to be registered, VODW Director Marissa Begonia has accompanied one of the members who has been refused many times by the surgery near her residence. Marissa is aware that surgeries often ask for requirements such as passport, ID, proof of address and employer letter. Upon refusal when a member of VODW couldn’t show any ID, proof of address and employer letter, Marissa showed the NHS card which clearly states that there’s no need of requirements to register to a GP practice.

VODW makes sure that all our members are registered to GP practices to be able to access health care and vaccines regardless of their status. Everyone is entitled to healthcare.

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Regardless of your immigration status, everyone in England is entitled to register with a GP. At Doctors Of The World(DOTW), we often find people who experience health inequalities can face barriers when trying to register with a GP.

Recent reports showed that many have been denied to access health care and vaccines Read Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Independent. 

Here is the information by DOTW on how to register with a GP and Book vaccine.

Below are members supporting each other in the vaccination pop-up clinic:

VODW First Physical Meeting Post Lockdown

We have planned to do a socialising and fundraising trip to the Farm’ Pick Your Own Fruit and Vegetables but when we called, the farm didn't allow group visits. We then diverted our Trip to Lido beach and reservoir. We are excited and looking forward to meeting our members.

Class Updates

We are looking forward to our physical classes in September. We have an ongoing survey to whether or not our members would prefer online or physical classes. The result of this survey will determine if we are to keep the online Zoom classes or not.

ESOL with English for Action

For one and half months of preparations, we have successfully completed our Raising Awareness Discussion about Migrant Domestic Workers last July 18, 2021 with the collaboration of English for Action teachers and learners. It was a great opportunity for us to share our stories, experiences and campaigns.  

This is one of the comments that caught our attention: “It was a deeply informative meeting about the situation of domestic workers in the UK. It was very well organised, opening space to discuss the various aspects of the problem from the statements of several migrant domestic workers, through legal issues to the campaign for the conquest of rights for the category. Thank you for joining, listening and helping us to do the campaigns. It was sad to know that most of these workers face a situation similar to slavery but being aware of this fact is essential for all of us to fight for change! This campaign is one more reason for me to admire, respect and applaud the wonderful work of EFA (and VODW)! I was really touched by the involvement of the organisers and their commitment to seek solutions, involving the community. I believe this is the only way we can build a better world for future generations!

Read EFA Newsletter!

This month also marks the end of the semester of the class. That is why our tutors gave us a Certificate of Attendance and Achievement for the Class 2020-2021. We are really grateful to our ESOL Facilitators Fatima Jadallah and Robin Sivapalan and with our collaboration work with EFA.  Our English class is extraordinary, it raises our political awareness to be able to act and respond to what is happening to us and around us. They also engaged us to attend other workshops that can help us in the future. We increased our confidence and fluency in speaking English in order to remain competitive in the workplace and in public. We look forward to working with them next semester.

MediaCom

Media & Communication working group workshop happens every Saturday evening at 9PM which has been facilitated by Ms Aimee Laurel, Social Media Communication expert since lockdown started. Ms Laurel's guidance to this group plays a very important role in the campaign. The campaign graphics and some videos were all done by our members to help us keep going with our campaign through social media. Our members are now familiarising how to edit video in Canva. Some are good at conceptualising and some are fast learners while others need more guidance. We are looking forward to more members who can contribute to the campaign materials. The VODW monthly Newsletter is the product of the work of this MediaCom workshop.

Body, Mind and Wellness

This month's topic was about having a more positive attitude. We studied how to find our strength which we associate with or represent us. Knowing our strengths helps increase our self-awareness because previously most of us are undervalued. With these kinds of workshops, we learned how to discover our greatest personal strengths and gave us new appreciation. In the second week of the month we soften our FEAR. Instead of thinking of our fear we diverted it into a softened words and attitude to help us overcome our fears. For the third week, the topic was all about the things or plans we are looking forward to post lockdown. See below for some responses gathered from our Facebook page. And last week was a very interesting topic because we asked ourselves, "Am I good enough?" We shared different ideas to help us to turn negative into positive and most to believe in ourselves.for this because some members are enough in different ways or it depends on the people's thoughts or treatment towards them. Part of our dance sessions we also practiced some dance moves because we are planning to dance at Lido Beach.

WATCH: Our Google Slide Presentation
Information Technology

Please watch the video above of our Google Slide presentations!

Financial Coaching

Be kind to yourself or love yourself by making sure we also have social life despite the heavy financial burdens and stress from hard work. Treat yourself even once in a while to some resto and shoppings. See photo with the regular attendees of Financial coaching above. 

Part of our weekly discussions include games as starters. We are using Drawsaurus - this is a game where we need to guess what the student draws. The winner is the person who guesses quickly and earns the highest scores and the other one is a reminder test. The tutor needs to find out that we still remember her lessons for the past few weeks. For this month the discussion is more on privacy and safety. We shared our experiences about scammers, hackers, fraud and other issues that don't keep you safe. That's why we encourage domestic workers to learn and grow, through educational content, community interaction and grow into your best self - in mind, body, and financial independence. But also to protect yourselves and be more responsible.

 

Community News

Unite the Union

Calling all Unite the Union members to vote for General Secretary. The 2021 Unite general secretary election is now underway. The current general secretary, Len McCluskey, will step down from office and the successful candidate will assume office at the conclusion of the election.The general secretary is responsible for the administration of the union; their powers and responsibilities are set out in Rule 15. The election for the general secretary is conducted by the Executive Council in accordance with Rule 16. More information HERE. Don’t forget to vote, make your voice heard!

Migrants Organise

If the latest Immigration Bill is leaving you with a sense of déjà vu- do not worry- you are not alone. This is all in the government’s plan for chaos and confusion. Just a year ago, in 2020 we had another ‘new immigration bill’ in front of the Parliament – that one ended free movement in the wake of our withdrawal from the EU. The 2020 Immigration bill was a copy-and-paste of the bill that stalled under Theresa May’s minority government in 2018. It fell when Parliament was prorogued in September 2019. Continue reading more about this important issue HERE.

VODW Hardship Fund Appeal
 

The Voice of Domestic Workers is an education and support group calling for justice and rights for Britain's 16,000 migrant domestic workers. In light of the current COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak in the UK, migrant domestic workers are encountering further prejudice and precarity - both with clients cancelling their services and ‘live in’ Migrant Domestic Workers being asked to vacate their workplaces and homes.

Help us build a hardship fund for migrant domestic workers in crisis. DONATE HERE


Our Regular Monthly Meeting

We meet our members regularly to update and if there is a problem in our organisation that needs to be resolved immediately. This is also our opportunity to check with our members individually if what support is needed. See photo during our meeting last 28 July 2021.

VODW Director Honoured

Congratulation to our Director Marissa Begonia for being the Top 10 Outstanding Contribution to Communities 2021 Ethnicity Awards!

International News

IDWFED: As part of the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, we have the immense pleasure to invite you to join the launch of Covid-19: Guidance for Occupational Safety and Health for Employers and Domestic Workers. Continue reading HERE.

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