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University of Bedfordshire
UK, LU1 3JU
The Refugee Legal Assistance Project (RLAP) was established in November 2013 and is coordinated by Dr Silvia Borelli, the Director of Research within the Centre for Research in Law.
The project gives law students in their final year the opportunity to work alongside legal practitioners and gain valuable practical skills, whilst providing precious assistance to people in need.
The project, which sees our students assisting refugees in their applications for family reunification, is vitally important for our clients, as legal barriers imposed by domestic authorities, coupled with drastic cuts to legal aid, have made matters incredibly difficult for refugees, who are in most cases unable to afford the substantial legal costs involved in family reunification proceedings.
Our students are working directly under the supervision of Ash Ali, a barrister specialising in asylum and immigration law, and Brian Cunningham of the Bedford Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support (BRASS).
The project has produced important results. In early January, we celebrated the successful outcome of R.'s family reunification application, which was lodged in November with the help of the RLAP. R., who was granted refugee status in the United Kingdom in 2010 due to the risks she was facing in her country of origin due to her political activities, had been forced to leave her three very young children when fleeing her country.
As a consequence of the recent change in policy, she had then been denied legal aid and faced huge problems in seeking to bring her children to the United Kingdom. As a direct result of the work of the RLAP team, her children have now been granted visas and the family are well on the way to being finally reunited. The project is expected to continue and generate even more success stories.