THE campaign by Westminster City Council to help EU citizens with their concerns in the run-up to Brexit steps up a gear tonight (Monday March 5th) with a unique advice session supported by the UK Government.
Cllr Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council, is set to tell the meeting in Pimlico: “Westminster’s EU nationals are not some bargaining counters in the Brexit discussions. These people are our neighbours, friends and workmates. Many have made their homes here for some decades, and right now many are worried about how their lives are going to change.
“These are people who have contributed to Westminster’s success. The City owes them – and we owe them help with advice on what Brexit will mean for them. “
Officials from the Home Office, the Department for exiting the EU (DExEU), Westminster City Council and representatives from Citizen’s Advice and Migrant Resource Centre will be on hand to help with queries during the 90 minute session.
The meeting represents an innovative new way for Westminster residents to get accurate and up to date information direct from the Government on the process of applying for settled status and what Brexit will mean for EU nationals living in the UK.
Westminster City Council has already made considerable strides to provide help to EU nationals amid the ongoing Brexit discussions. In November last year, the Council asked Citizens Advice Westminster, in partnership with the Migrants Resource centre, to set up an advice line and drop-in sessions for EU nationals.
In just under three months, it has handled dozens of calls and set up more than 50 face-to-face advice sessions. Nationalities asking for help included Hungarians, Romanians, French, German and Portuguese.
The five most commonly questions involved:
· Advice on Brexit proposals
· Entitlement to benefits
· Status check
In December 2017, Cllr Aiken wrote to nearly 9,000 EU nationals (those on the electoral register) to promote the advice line and underline the Council’s commitment to help.
Tonight’s meeting is full with more than 120 people expected. Cllr Aiken added: “The fact that this session has proven so popular indicates that EU nationals are seeking reassurance and local detail away from all the noise of the news about Brexit discussions. I hope and expect we will run more similar sessions like this working together with central Government.”
The meeting is being held at One Drummond Gate, Pimlico.