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March 2014 – In the beginning….
In the beginning we were just a small group of young people wanting to make a change. We met fortnightly and called our project something long and complicated like ‘The access to higher education for young people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK…..etc etc’
April 2014 – An under-represented group
We spent a lot of time researching other groups and organisations to try and find allies. We went to meetings about university; about young people and about migration issues – and even went to the houses of parliament – but nobody seemed to be focused on helping young people like us take up their places at university.
May 2014 – Venturing out
It took us a few months to speak in public about our experiences and our project. But we knew that this was an important issue and that there were no doubt many more young people out there like us. So we started to step out and spread the word…
July 2014 – Getting organised!
We’d never heard of ‘community organising’ before, and we’d certainly never previously planned a campaign, so it was AMAZING to meet one of the most inspirational community organisers out there: Carlos Saavedra. Carlos spoke to us during his visit from the US. He helped us realise that our stories were our most powerful and motivating asset.
September 2014 – Our first publicity
After speaking with Carlos, Chrisann knew what she had to do. She immediately wrote to her local newspaper, the Hackney Citizen, and just a few months later, Let Us Learn (we’d come up with a better name by now ) was in print.
October 2014 – National press coverage
October and November 2014 brought pivotal moments for the campaign. We knew that the campaign needed national media coverage to grow and to further raise awareness amongst young people like us. Chrisann plucked up the courage to tell her story in the Guardian, and then on BBC Newsnight. Let Us Learn has never looked back since.
December 2014 – Let Us Learn grows
The media coverage meant that many more young people facing the same barriers to education heard about Let Us Learn and asked to get involved. Nearly every single young person we spoke with said the same thing: they thought they were the only person in this position and that they were alone.
March 2015 – Chrisann wins award
In 2014, Chrisann was recognised for her work when she was nominated for the Liberty Human Rights Awards. And in March 2015 she went one better, winning Young Woman of the year at the Women on the Move Awards.
April 2015 – Bringing young people together
In early 2015, we started to work closely with some of the leading experts in this area of immigration law. Solange Valdez from the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) ran several workshops on immigration law that were attended by many young people and brought new energy to the campaign. At this stage, before the Supreme Court case, changing our immigration status was the only option most of us had to get to university.
May 2015 – Demanding change
In the months and weeks before the 2015 general election, we mobilised and attended as many public meetings with prospective party candidates as we could. We travelled around London and put these local representatives on the spot. We stood up, told our stories and asked them whether they felt it was right that we were denied access to education.
June 2015 – Getting serious
We started to prepare for the legal challenge to the student finance rules that would be heard in the Supreme Court at the end of June, and to plan our demonstration on the day. But we didn’t know how the Tigere case would go, so we also started planning for a longer campaign and produced leaflets and even some Let Us Learn t-shirts!
June 2015 – Demonstrating at the Supreme Court
Wednesday 24th June 2015 was a huge day for the Let Us Learn campaign as we came out in force in support of the Supreme Court challenge to the student finance regulations. Over fifty young people from across London and the UK who were impacted by the issue gathered and we even had the support of four members of parliament. We had loads of media coverage, including from the Daily Telegraph.
At the Supreme Court: “Young, gifted and blocked! Young, gifted and blocked!”
At the Supreme Court: Let Us Learn campaigners tell their stories
July 2015 – An extra boost from the Dreamers
While we waited for the decision from the Supreme Court, we were lucky enough to have a visit from two incredible migrants’ rights campaigners from the US, Lucas Codognolla and Renata Teodoro. They gave us belief that we were doing the right thing and that we could carry on, no matter what the decision of the court.
July 2015 – Victory at the Supreme Court
Just over one month after our first Supreme Court demonstration, we gathered again. We only had one week’s notice of the date but we were still able to gather a huge crowd of young people who were impacted by the issue. When the court delivered it’s decision, we could hardly believe what we were hearing. The case received loads more media coverage, including in the Daily Mail and Guardian newspapers.
October 2015 – Developing young leaders
Although many more young people can now take up their places at university, our mission does not stop there. We are focused on raising awareness of access to higher education for young people with irregular immigration statuses and are developing ourselves and other young leaders to take forward our message. We held our first leadership academy in October and are already speaking to young people in schools and colleges about the issue.