Our Project Workers supported Katerina for a year in HMP Peterborough. She resided in the Mother and Baby Unit with her 12-month-old son. For her first appointment, Katerina brought a letter from a bailiff, with a formal request to pay £5,000 to the Legal Aid Agency for criminal costs, for failing to show proof of her income. Our Project Worker called the bailiff on Katerina’s behalf and managed to get an extension to submit the correct documents. Katerina was then able to gather some of the requested evidence, but other documents proved more complicated, e.g. a recent bank statement, when her account had been closed a long time ago. Our Project Workers managed to contact the branch directly and advocate on Katerina’s behalf, and the bank agreed to issue a statement, which was forwarded to the Legal Aid Agency. As a result, Katerina’s debt was written off.
Six months later, Katerina received first-stage deportation. She approached us for support, as she didn’t understand the deportation process. We explained to her the content of the notice and her options and helped her with her response letter (reasons against deportation) to the Home Office. We helped her gather evidence of her life in the UK, by contacting GP surgeries she had been registered with on her behalf for copies of her medical records, and liaising with the prison in order to obtain reports and educational certificates. Despite our efforts, Katerina received the deportation order, which left her very distressed. We supported her emotionally and helped her complete the appeal and fax it to the Immigration Tribunal. In March, we delivered a legal workshop in partnership with The AIRE Centre for EU nationals facing deportation. Katerina attended and shared her story. Thanks to her attendance we were able to refer Katerina directly to the AIRE Centre solicitors, as she could not afford a private solicitor. The AIRE Centre agreed to take the case on and they asked the tribunal to postpone the hearing so that they could gather the necessary evidence and prepare her case. Katerina was released recently and continues to work with both Hibiscus and her solicitor while she waits to appear at the Immigration Tribunal.