Monday 27 February 2023

Life Changing Decisions


Tuition fee RESIDENCY Rules

Life changing decisions

Written by - Zizi Orji

We believe everyone living in Scotland should have equal rights and opportunities,

regardless of their immigration status.

·       On arriving in Scotland seeking asylum, people are keen to contribute to life here.  Professional qualifications gained in our home country are often however not recognised.

·        Many of us wish to further our studies either in a new sphere or to ratify our existing qualifications.  SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland) funding is available to pay tuition fees and more for those who have settled status as set out in the Immigration Act 1971.

·       However, although the Home Office has given us limited leave to remain in the UK, many people discover they are not able to take up offers of Further and Higher Educations as they do not qualify for SAAS funding due to their immigration status. 

·       This has been the case for those who have not yet been granted indefinite leave to remain by the Home Office and are on the long residence (10 year settlement) route and must reapply for permission to stay every 30 months. 

According to SAAS, to apply for funding applicants must have settled status as set out in the Immigration Act 1971.  This excludes all apart from those awarded leave to remain as a result of an asylum application.

·       Although immigration status is determined by the Home Office, the Scottish Government has control over Education and has the power to change the policy of who qualifies for SAAS funding.

·       There are no UK legal impediments or prohibitions against extending access to funding.

In In our recent campaign we have been asking that the Scottish Government lives up to its laudable human rights commitments and extends access to SAAS funding to those granted limited leave to remain on the 10 year settlement route who are required to renew their leave to remain at 30 month periods.  

Hundreds of students from migrant families has been affected by tuition fees residency rules including myself, Glory and Olivia.

For many years, we have been campaigning, doing surveys and newspaper publications and also working alongside the PTC. Several productive meetings were organised and held with the minister of higher education where we discussed inequality in education and barriers that existed for people with certain immigration status, asylum seekers and adults who wants to continue their studies.

The fact that these has been campaigned on for many years and people were not listened to, the Scottish government continued to introduce schemes that favoured other categories such as Ukrainians and Syrian interpreters to get funding.

Studying, gaining qualifications and pursing ambitions are a major part of rebuilding our lives after a long wait for the Home Office response.

Glory was also backed by JustRight Scotland to call for SAAS funding to be made available to everyone like her.

The highlight of the campaign was that even if the home office determined the status of individuals the Scottish government has the power over education and can change the policies.

Recently myself , Glory ,Olivia and Elaine had a meeting with the Scottish Government and SAAS and a payment scheme has been drawn out to cover payments to students in the year 2021-2023, and hopefully it goes on in the near future.


Tuesday 13 September 2022

Filled to the Brim


Over the past two years, members of Poverty Truth groups in Glasgow and Greater Manchester have been taking part in a collaborative research project with Wren Radford from the University of Manchester about everyday experiences of poverty and inequality.

The project came about through conversations with Poverty Truth members about the way that aspects of their experiences can often be labelled and categorised, and then separated out from each other as being ‘about’ food poverty or homelessness or mental health. We wanted to explore what happens when we start by reflecting on people’s everyday experiences – both how inequalities play out in daily life, but also the ordinary actions that people take every day to survive, challenge, and change inequality.

We began the research will a small steering group helping to design how the research would work. We recognised that during covid, many of our usual methods of meeting over a cuppa wouldn’t work! So we decided on using creative journals for people to record their thoughts and reflections, alongside small group workshops over Zoom.

Everyone interested in taking part was sent a journal, and art pack, and some prompts. People were invited to write, draw, collage, or voice record their responses. We then met over Zoom in small groups, to share and listen with each other. In these sessions we would respond to a couple of prompts about our daily lives; people would write, draw, or think for a few minutes on their own before sharing what they wished to with the rest of the group. There was laughter and tears, and a lot of encouragement for each other in what was being shared. In the groups, people expressed that it was good to have time to hear each other, and that sometimes it can be useful to take time to explore the various aspects and complexities of our daily lives. We spoke about the importance of seeing the differences but also the resonances between our experiences.

Out of these conversations and journaling, the group has produced a creative resource book ‘Filled to the Brim’. The book reflects the creative expressions that people bring to their ordinary lives and offers a space to engage with a range of different experiences that make up each of our days. We are hoping to share this to encourage and inspire our conversations, creativity, and action in addressing the impact of poverty and inequality.

The pages in the book are digital re-creations of journal pages or discussions in the workshops. This gave us the opportunity to reflect on what we wanted to share, and how to present the differences and continuities in our perspectives. We also wanted to avoid the sense that anyone can claim to fully know us directly by looking through the booklet. Rather, we advocate for continuing to listen to and learn with one another and that collaborating to address inequality requires space and time to get to know the complexities and creativities of people’s ordinary lives.  As one of the pages in Filled to the Brim reads:

‘These journals partly reflect that

there’s more to our lives

than what people think of

as ‘poverty’.


We still live,

we still have our lives.

The poverty is always there,

like a backdrop,

to the daily goings on

we have as human beings.


Life is not

a static thing.’


On Tuesday the 27th September we will be holding an online launch for the book, where you can hear more about the project process, and for you to discuss some of your initial responses to the book. PTC will also be working with printed copies of the book over the coming year. You can register for the launch on Eventbrite:


You can also view the digital copy of Filled to the Brim here:







Friday 20 May 2022





by Brian Scott


Hi, guys I’ve been asked to produce a short blog outlining the field research being done between the APLE Collective and the Ada Lovelace Foundation.  So who are the Ada Lovelace Foundation?  

Well, they put it a lot better than I can:-

About Ada Lovelace

The Ada Lovelace Institute was established by the Nuffield Foundation in early 2018, in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute, the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Statistical Society, the Wellcome Trust, Luminate, techUK and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Ada Lovelace (1815–52) has been adopted globally as a trailblazer for women in maths and science; the daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, she was educated by her mother Anne Isabella Noel Byron to excel in mathematics. Her most influential work and writings were produced in relation to Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, designed in 1837.

The Project is looking at the Digital Divide and the issues raised, and problems encountered during and post Covid Pandemic for example, when trying to contact your GP and other health services in the community.

The participants have been asked to be Peer Researchers which means that for us taking part, we take an active role in collecting data through interviews which are very much interviewee-led and then passing the information to the researchers at the Ada Lovelace Foundation for assimilation in their overall research. (very Borg-like statement (Trekkie reference or to be really annoying a ‘Trekker’ reference).

We have already had 2 workshops already, one face-to-face (good pens and notepads but rhubarb flavoured shortbread!!!!).  The second was held over  Zoom.

The first meeting was more of an overview and introduction to research and icebreaker between all the participants.  The second we a more in-depth look a:-

u what questions to ask

u how to ask the questions (open questioning rather than closed questioning)

u how to make the interviewee comfortable and turn the interaction into more of a conversation rather than a Q&A session.

As the research goes on than I’m sure myself and the other participants will keep you up-to-date with how the research is going and, you never know, if you’ve been really good and not ended up on the ‘naughty list’ you could be asked to be interviewed or even become a Peer Researcher yourself.


Brian Scott

May 2022

Monday 25 October 2021

Little Stones, Large Cairns

Earlier this month we were delighted to host an open conversation  ‘Little Stones, Large Cairns’ sharing the story of the United Nations International day for the Eradication of Poverty - hearing from folk across the UK and around the world about what the day means to them.

Patrick in New York shared his experience of speaking at the United Nations and we are delighted he has given permission for us to share his words with you here.


Patrick Lubin – New York – 6 October 2021

Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for the invitation to celebrate with you today, for me it is a great honor.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is important for me because it is a commemorative day to honor all the victims of poverty and to celebrate all the people fighting to eradicate poverty in the world. It is a gathering all around the world, all of us who have suffered of poverty together with all that are fighting to end poverty. It is a moment of meditation to make silence to honor all the victims of poverty. For me it is as well a day to remember Joseph Wresinski, the founder of ATD Fourth World.

I remember very vividly the first time I went to the United Nations. Christelle, a friend, invited me to the commemoration on October 16, 2015.

For me, who has defended people all my live before living in the street,  when I spoke at the UN on October 17 2016, it was to represent all the people that, like myself have suffered in the street. It was an opportunity to honor the fight of these people.  I have witnessed all this and I have to be there, I have to participate.

I got into this fight because we are representing ourselves, our families, our communities and ATD Fourth World. We represent people around us, even if we don’t know them. We are engaged in the same fight to stop poverty, to bring awareness to churches, mosques and temples, to reduce inequalities, to stop human rights violations,  to change the laws.

To stop poverty in the world we have to get involved, I feel if I am not there I am missing something crucial. I have to be here and fight because we need to defend the right to be respected, to housing, to food and we need to end humiliation.

Being present and feeling welcomed at the United Nations is a huge honor for me, especially to have the right to speak. It is a powerful privilege to address my speech to the world, to explain what I went through while living in extreme poverty and what a challenge is to survive.

Not everybody has the possibility to speak at the UN. It is because of the work of ATD Fourth World that we can speak at the UN so I spoke representing ATD Fourth World.

October 17 is a day to celebrate, at the UN we are present with our power to make people understand and become aware that there is another world where people suffer and are traumatized because of poverty. Society mainly doesn’t care, we are mistreated and humiliated. So we are there to stop humiliation and represent our people.

When Kim spoke at the UN for the first time, for her, for us, it is a lot of pain but it give us the chance to change what people think about poverty, what we can do better to stop poverty so that people understand and have knowledge of what poverty is, what kind of traumas we go through. Thanks Fighting poverty is a kind of war for us.

At the UN we want to send a message and there we feel we are not alone because people are there with their heart and intelligence to support us to eradicate poverty.


We are there to advocate for people who don’t have the possibility to speak, to be heard, so that we are not forgotten. If you speak at the UN you speak to the world.


Having the commemorative stone at the UN for me means to remember for ever October 17, 1987 when father Joseph Wresinski inaugurated the stone in Paris and when later the day was recognized the day to honor the victims of poverty.

I remember when I used to go with my father to the memorial to honor the victims of war, the stone is the same, it is a monument to honor people in poverty. Poverty is a war because it is killing people.

The stone is a place to be all together to respect and take a moment of silencfor the victims of poverty.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Universal Credit Cut - Keep the Lifeline!

 This month our blog post comes from Rose - urging the government to stop the £20 cut to Universal Credit and keep the lifeline.

"Having a devastating and difficult illness such as complex post traumatic stress, any changes made in my life can be catastrophic. They trigger fear and uncertainty, even if it's 'just' £20.

The letters with those words sent through to me with this information cause fear and alarm and I wonder how am I going to survive. Often times, I'll try to sleep through it, to hide from the reality of another cut, another psychological and financial adjustment.

Having many skills, and having pushed through so many obstacles to qualify, I feel disqualified and unable to add to my already dwindling financial support. I would love to , but find myself in periods of illness where it's too difficult to even function, let alone work again.

 £20' is a shop for me, a few dinners shrewdly calculated, still wondering and fearful if I'll have enough at the checkout.  Always "will I have enough?",

The reduced produce is always my go to, reduced flowers I can nurture back to life, gives me some sort of purpose and joy to see the beauty of their colour filling my sparce but safe home.

It's not just a figure to me, it's an engrained part of my survival. It's my safety net from dropping completely into poverty, giving my son my food, as I often go hungry.

The '£20' is more than money to me, it's so considered to me in my life as I have to budget every single detail. It's my train fare to places like the Poverty Truth Commission, for tea and a sandwich and human contact, human concern, interaction and a strength given to go on.

It's sterling money, but it's my absolute lifeline, without it, I see the deficit, I feel it also in many different ways.

Psychologically, if it's there and it's in my bank, i know I can use it for so many different things for survival. Like an elastic band, I can stretch that '£20', because poverty has made me innovative, it's shown me another way. The depression, the fear, the shame, the discouragement of never really having enough to pay the gas bill, for a bed for my son, for the constant struggle, fatigue and apathy for life have no room in my life, they can't, if they do, I'm beat, I give up.

So I'd like to keep that '£20' it's change in your pocket, not considered a lot at all, maybe you've never considered the real impacts of the cuts on real people's lives.

People like me, who despite continually swimming against the current, with '£20', I can do so much. It buys me a life boat and oars to swim in that current of life.

Being in many situations where I've had absolutely nothing and someone gives me '£20', I've won the lottery, my lifeline has returned. I can provide dinner, can feed my therapy dogs, and I can buy those stunningly beautiful flowers blooming brightly and bringing light, bringing joy, hope and  creativity. It brings a safety, that the household are fed a meal, that we have light for another day, there's money in the meter for another day, there's bread on the table for another day.

And there's peace momentarily

One purple note brings all of this. It's removal does only the opposite, the deficit.

One single '£20', does so much more than you think.

So do please think, of the families deeply affected, plunged even deeper into poverty and hopelessness.

Your '£20' which is mere change in your pocket is not just sterling fiscal money.

It's a vital means of survival.

It's a hope installer

It heats a home

It feeds who dwells there.

It's so much more than just sterling money. It's just that you don't realise it.

If you did, you would return it to its rightful owner......

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Mice Have Rights too

This month's blog post comes from Carol T, 

a reflection on standing up for your rights.

I was inspired to write this poem after the Poverty Truth meeting on Human Rights. 

 I have mice in my flat just now and have had mice and/or rats for the last 4 years.  In one of the clips we were watching about housing rights someone had mice in their home and it made me think about mine.  I've ended up putting up with them all this time, even though I'm terrified of mice!

When were asked at the end of the meeting to each say what we were going away thinking about, I said 'Mice have rights too!', just trying to be funny.  But then I started thinking about what it is like for the mice and how I don't stand up for my human rights, so it's me that hasn't got a back bone! 

It's scared.  I'm scared.  Writing this poem helped me to look at how I was really feeling.

Mice have Rights too

What about me?

I've a right to remain

I don’t have a name

But my rights are the same.


I've got mouths to feed

Stomachs are empty

Only poison to eat.

Scraps are plenty, Plenty of rights!

I don’t make much sound

I'm as quick as a flash

Shadows are glanced in the blink of an eye

As I scamper by.

Your screams, screeches pierce through my ears

You frighten, scare me I'm full of fear

Brothers and sisters dead on the trap

Slowly die as they eat the poisonous crap.


What about me ?

I've a right to remain

I don’t have no name

But my rights are the same.


A safe place to stay a crumb from your table

Trying to keep my family stable

You try to destroy me you turn a blind eye

Laugh at your phobia call me Vermin.

Dirty evil spineless creature

I cant help my nature.

What about my voice I want to be heard

Listen to my life my family dead

Its quick you say just a snap to the neck

Or a slow poisonous deep sleep what a cheek!

Where else can I go you’ve taken my habitat

Built homes, flats, knocked down our turf

Well weve had enough squattins our game

Treat us with kindness be humane.

You’re the spineless one you cant say No!

Accepting conditions has become your to go

Jumping at the slightest noise

That’s your choice

Take a leaf out of my book

Stand up for your rights just look.

Open your eyes open your ears

Accepting humiliation for years

Fight learn gain knowledge you see

Stop blaming me Stop blaming me. 


What about me

I've a right to remain

I don’t have a name

But my rights are the same.

Wednesday 21 July 2021


 Human Rights and Poverty

Our conversations the last few weeks have frequently been around human rights and poverty and this Monday our Poverty Truth Conversation focused in on the issue, welcoming friends from ATD 4th World and Making Rights real into the conversation.

In this month's blog Caroline who has long been campaigning for the Right to Food shares some of her thoughts.

"The Government need to move away from a charity model of food provision  ie. food banks and ensure that people are not at the mercy of the benefit system to feed themselves.

This is why we should all support the campaign of  enshrining the right to food in Scots law.  If it was successful it  would  guide the Scottish Government on developing strategies to tackle food insecurity based on human rights.    

 This would achieve food equality for all.   We would know this has been realised  when everyone has physical and economic access to food.

Human  rights are every ones rights.  We must all challenge the Government when they are failing."

You can find out more about the Right to Food Campaign here:   The Right to Food Campaign - Nourish Scotland