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One of our community is in a particularly bad spot. If you think that you can support a colleague please read on.

by Katrina Marshall

Yep, that’s the title of this post – Jobless, possibly stateless and almost homeless: My life as a crisis comms case

Sounds A bit dramatic doesn’t it when you put it like that.

But in a way we are all battling some version of a crisis and I don’t think any of us considers enough how the way we think as communicators spills over into our daily lives. When my circumstances crystallised into that
headline above, my first thought when it came to approaching it was as a ‘problem solver’. That is what I do as a freelance comms and PR specialist.

Now that things have become far more dire than simply “how do I work my way out of this”, I’ve expanded my reach and decided to think of it as ‘how I would approach it if someone came to me with my situation and asked for a crisis communications strategy?’

And I’m happy to get your views on it too! After all, you’re such comms superstars that those among you who are experts at crisis comms may have a better approach than I would.

But first the facts

After almost three successful years plying my trade a communications professional across the sectors in the UK, I have hit a pretty huge obstacle: This month my legal right to remain in the United Kingdom expires.

Under the UK home office system of immigration I’m now in the position of so many thousands of my countrymen. I must prove (again) that based on a series of deeply punitive and ad hoc criteria, I deserve the right to continue to reside in the United Kingdom. To stay and do a job I love so much and in a community I have become attached to.

This process in normal times requires that one is married to or in a civil partnership with a U.K. Citizen. Alternately, to be in a category of work considered vital or highly skilled (ha – I’d say that comms has become
absolutely beyond vital these past few months hasn’t it?!)

Finally, in the worst and most dehumanizing scenario, one must prove that to return to one’s country of birth presents a serious risk to health, safety and overall well-being. One must declare oneself a refugee and
seek asylum.

While I am by no means in the same category as an asylum seeker from a country ravaged by Civil War, there are benefits to residing here that I wish to continue to explore. (Hard to imagine for a girl born and raised in the paradise island of Barbados, but rum on tap and crystal clear seas only go so far by way of self-actualisation)

To say nothing of the fact that I am deeply invested in contributing to society through my unique cultural view of the world, my talents as a journalist and communicator and my fundamental desire to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Despite the big journalistic set pieces that have been Brexit; the rise of right wing rhetoric; three general elections; a tanked economy and now the mighty COVID-19, it cannot have escaped your notice that some sections of the press have for years now forced us to face the government’s historical practice of deportation (discrimination?) by legislation through the hostile immigration environment as designed by Mrs May during her tenure as Home Secretary. It was further enforced with deadly consequences during her fraught
tenure as Prime Minister. In the event that you hold a red passport and are genuinely unfamiliar with the journey that legal immigrants have to take just to get by in Britain remember that everything stems from your proof of right to work.

I have been extremely fortunate to amass professional experience and paid work in the 2.5 years since moving back to the UK (I attended university here in the early to mid-2000’s). To say nothing of the professional connections I’ve built through a kind and welcoming comms, PR & journalism community. (I know now that kind of reception is far from typical, but that’s another blog; and more similar commentary can be found on my Medium page.

That said, it is a matter of public record that mine and thousands of others’ right to work is tied to the legal leave to remain here. Without Indefinite Leave to Remain that is a ticking countdown clock above my head. It underpins and creates a sense of urgency around almost every decision I make. It amplifies the consequences of a simple parking ticket or a rowdy argument in the pub that may or may not have been witnessed by your local Bobby. It makes you think twice about applying for any job that requires
a background check. And just in case you breathe the rare air of steady employment, decent integration into society, respect in your community and a post code that make you “the other half”, fear not: there is always something that will bring you right back down to earth. Five words printed on the back of your Biometric Residence Permit: No Recourse To Public Funds. A sharp a reminder if ever there was one, that we live here at the pleasure of Her Majesty.”

Put simply, while many who fall on hard times can rely on state assistance through allowances and grants, people in my position have no such safety net.

Enter the mighty COVID

None of us six weeks ago could have predicted that our world will now forever be divided into life before and life after the Coronavirus.

In very short order this disease moved like a hot knife through butter.

That which was buried was unearthed. That which was settled became murky. That which was mildly ill became terminal. That which was already on shaky ground was demolished.”

In much the same way that the unprecedented hurricanes and tsunamis of the last decade seemed a thing happening on far distant, none of us six weeks ago could have predicted that our world will now forever be divided into life before and life after the Coronavirus.

A metaphor for my life if ever there was one. The irreparable breakdown of a domestic partnership; a tenuous grip on employment at best; a complete removal of all external sources of support; an increasingly dangerous medical condition which makes me severely immunocompromised and, let’s face it,
a sharp shift in priorities among the specialisms in our industry.

Simply put: despite all of the humanity and grace that the consultancy with which I worked prior showed as we came to grips with the enormity of COVID-19’s impact, communication public relations marketing and so
many other journalism adjacent professions are and have been the first on the chopping block when as a society we began to consider what an essential service truly was.

One Friday I had work and the ability to pay my rent.

The following Monday I had neither.

As the countdown clock over my leave to remain drips into the red perhaps by now it has become clear that while I am not too proud to stock shelves or drive a forklift or pick the mud out of horses hooves my desire and ability to do so is inversely proportional to the time during which I can prove that I live and work here legally.

My solicitors, Wesley Gryk – themselves in the throes of a COVID-induced restructuring – have done me yeomen service this far to deliver stellar quality representation. I need to use these specialist solicitors because the process itself is so deeply confusing that one can easily compromise one’s chances filling out the application without legal guidance – Wesley Gryk specialise in cases that are as complex as mine.

But the bald fact is: the decision to hire someone whose visa status is, at best, pending, is largely discretionary. To put a finer point on it: it doesn’t make good business sense to do so unless you’re referring to
casual skilled work.

It should by now be easy to surmise that in the midst of all this I pulled the short straw with my landlord as well. She and the Lettings agency are intent on exacting their toll no matter the situation. And based on
an obvious lack of understanding for the foregoing, regularly suggest that “there are lots of jobs out there yet you haven’t been able to find one yet”.

Oh how I laughed and laughed at that one.

And then. I cried.

Sufficed to say I’ve been served notice to vacate the property, so the visa count-down clock isn’t the only one that’s ticking in my ear.

The strategy – what next

With the support of my brilliant solicitor, I am fighting to get a three-year extension to my permit so that I may remain in the UK to do the job we all love so much.

Of course, everything comes at a cost. And whilst this flies in my proud face I have reached the point where I have no alternative but to ask for help. The reality is I don’t have access to sufficient funds to deliver the final piece of my solicitor’s appeal. It isn’t a huge amount but it feels like a huge amount to me right now.

Some communicators – I won’t name them – have stepped in to help in the past few weeks and I am hugely grateful for that. For some of them I am doing this in return for delivering communications activity – after all, I am pretty decent at that!

So, if you feel like you may able to make a donation – no matter how small – you would really be helping a colleague out of a pretty rubbish jam. You can contribute to my solicitor’s fund HERE.

If you would like to do this in return for using my time and skills for a piece of work please do contact me by email HERE or via LinkedIn HERE.

Many of you will have your own problems during COVID-19 and I am very mindful of this.

Thank you for reading this and love and good health to you and yours.

Katrina Marshall is a freelance communications and PR specialist and a member of the PRCA. You can say hello on Twitter at @Kat_Isha

 

 

Katrina
Marshall
is a freelance communications and PR specialist and a
member of the PRCA. You can say hello on Twitter at
@Kat_Isha

 

Thank
you for reading this and love and good health to you and yours.

 

Many
of you will have your own problems during COVID-19 and I am very mindful of
this.

 

If
you would like to do this in return for using my time and skills for a piece of
work please do contact me by email HERE
or via LinkedIn HERE.

 

So
if you feel like you may able to make a donation – no matter how small – you
would really be helping a colleague out of a pretty rubbish jam. You can
contribute to my solicitor’s fund HERE.

 

Some
communicators – I won’t name them – have stepped in to help in the past few
weeks and I am hugely grateful for that. For some of them I am doing this in
return for delivering communications activity – after all, I am pretty decent
at that!

 

Of
course, everything comes at a cost. And whilst this flies in my proud face I
have reached the point where I have no alternative but to ask for help. The
reality is I don’t have access to sufficient funds to deliver the final piece
of my solicitor’s appeal. It isn’t a huge amount but it feels like a huge
amount to me right now.

 

With
the support of my brilliant solicitor, I am fighting to get a three-year
extension to my permit so that I may remain in the UK to do the job we all love
so much.

 

The
strategy – what next

 

Sufficed to say I’ve been served notice to vacate the property,
so the visa count-down clock isn’t the only one that’s ticking in my ear.

 

And then. I cried.

Oh how I laughed and laughed at that one.

It should by now be easy to surmise that in the midst of all
this I pulled the short straw with my landlord as well. She and the Lettings
agency are intent on exacting their toll no matter the situation. And based on
an obvious lack of understanding for the foregoing, regularly suggest that
“there are lots of jobs out there yet you haven’t been able to find one yet”.

 

But the bald fact is: the decision to hire someone whose visa
status is, at best, pending, is largely discretionary. To put a finer point on
it: it doesn’t make good business sense to do so unless you’re referring to
casual skilled work.

 

My solicitors, Wesley Gryk
themselves in the throes of a COVID-induced restructuring – have done me yeomen
service this far to deliver stellar quality representation. I need to use these
specialist solicitors because the process itself is so deeply confusing that
one can easily compromise one’s chances filling out the application without
legal guidance – Wesley Gryk specialise in cases that are as complex as mine.

 

As the countdown clock over my leave to remain drips into the
red perhaps by now it has become clear that while I am not too proud to stock
shelves or drive a forklift or pick the mud out of horses hooves my desire and
ability to do so is inversely proportional to the time during which I can prove
that I live and work here legally.

 

The following Monday I had neither.

 

One Friday I had work and the ability to pay my rent.

 

Simply put: despite all of the humanity and grace that the
consultancy with which I worked prior showed as we came to grips with the
enormity of COVID-19’s impact, communication public relations marketing and so
many other journalism adjacent professions are and have been the first on the
chopping block when as a society we began to consider what an essential service
truly was.

 

A metaphor for my life if ever there was one. The irreparable
breakdown of a domestic partnership; a tenuous grip on employment at best; a
complete removal of all external sources of support; an increasingly dangerous
medical condition which makes me severely immunocompromised and, let’s face it,
a sharp shift in priorities among the specialisms in our industry.

 

In much the same way that the unprecedented hurricanes and
tsunamis of the last decade seemed a thing happening on far distant, none of us
six weeks ago could have predicted that our world will now forever be divided
into life before and life after the Coronavirus.

 

That which was buried was unearthed. That which was settled
became murky. That which was mildly ill became terminal. That which was already
on shaky ground was demolished.”

 

In very short order this disease moved like a hot knife through
butter.

 

None of us six weeks ago could have predicted that our world
will now forever be divided into life before and life after the Coronavirus.

 

Enter the mighty COVID

 

Put simply, while many who fall on hard times can rely on state
assistance through allowances and grants, people in my position have no such
safety net.

 

That said, it is a matter of public record that mine and
thousands of others’ right to work is tied to the legal leave to remain here.
Without Indefinite
Leave to Remain that is a ticking countdown
clock above my head. It underpins and creates a sense of urgency around almost
every decision I make. It amplifies the consequences of a simple parking ticket
or a rowdy argument in the pub that may or may not have been witnessed by your
local Bobby. It makes you think twice about applying for any job that requires
a background check. And just in case you breathe the rare air of steady
employment, decent integration into society, respect in your community and a
post code that make you “the other half”, fear not: there is always something
that will bring you right back down to earth. Five words printed on the back of
your Biometric Residence Permit: No Recourse To Public Funds. A sharp a
reminder if ever there was one, that we live here at the pleasure of Her
Majesty.”

 

I have been extremely fortunate to amass professional experience
and paid work in the 2.5 years since moving back to the UK (I attended
university here in the early to mid-2000’s). To say nothing of the professional
connections I’ve built through a kind and welcoming comms, PR & journalism
community. (I know now that kind of reception is far from typical, but that’s
another blog; and more similar commentary can be found on my Medium page.

 

Despite the big journalistic set pieces that have been Brexit;
the rise of right wing rhetoric; three general elections; a tanked economy and
now the mighty COVID-19, it cannot have escaped your notice that some sections
of the press have for years now forced us to face the government’s historical
practice of deportation (discrimination?) by legislation through the hostile
immigration environment as designed by Mrs May during her tenure as Home
Secretary. It was further enforced with deadly consequences during her fraught
tenure as Prime Minister. In the event that you hold a red passport and are
genuinely unfamiliar with the journey that legal immigrants have to take just
to get by in Britain remember that everything stems from your proof of right to
work.

 

To say nothing of the fact that I am deeply invested in
contributing to society through my unique cultural view of the world, my
talents as a journalist and communicator and my fundamental desire to leave the
world a better place than I found it.

While I am by no means in the same category as an asylum seeker
from a country ravaged by Civil War, there are benefits to residing here that I
wish to continue to explore. (Hard to imagine for a girl born and raised in the
paradise island of Barbados, but rum on tap and crystal clear seas only go so
far by way of self-actualisation)

 

Finally, in the worst and most dehumanizing scenario, one must
prove that to return to one’s country of birth presents a serious risk to
health, safety and overall well-being. One must declare oneself a refugee and
seek asylum.

 

This process in normal times requires that one is married to or
in a civil partnership with a U.K. Citizen. Alternately, to be in a category of
work considered vital or highly skilled (ha – I’d say that comms has become
absolutely beyond vital these past few months hasn’t it?!)

 

Under the UK home office system of immigration I’m now in the
position of so many thousands of my countrymen. I must prove (again) that based
on a series of deeply punitive and ad hoc criteria, I deserve the right to
continue to reside in the United Kingdom. To stay and do a job I love so much and in a community I have
become so attached to.

 

After
almost three successful years plying my trade a communications professional
across the sectors in the UK, I have hit a pretty huge obstacle: This month my legal right to remain in the United Kingdom
expires.

 

But first the facts

 

And I’m happy to get your views on it too! After all, you’re
such comms superstars that those among you who are experts at crisis comms may
have a better approach than I would.

 

Now that things have become far more dire than simply “how do I
work my way out of this”, I’ve expanded my reach and decided to think of it as ‘how
I would approach it if someone came to me with my situation and asked for a
crisis communications strategy?’

 

But in a way we are all battling some version of a crisis and I
don’t think any of us considers enough how the way we think as communicators
spills over into our daily lives. When my circumstances crystallised into that
headline above, my first thought when it came to approaching it was as a ‘problem
solver’. That is what I do as a freelance comms and PR specialist.

 

Sounds A bit dramatic doesn’t it when you put it like that.

 

by Katrina Marshall

 

One
of our community is in a particularly bad spot. If you think that you can
support a colleague please read on.

 

jobless, possibly stateless and almost homeless: my life as a crisis
comms case

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

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