On 16 July 2010, the Home Secretary, Teresa May, announced that the Home Office pilot scheme, the Sojourner Project, which gives women with immigration and no recourse to public funds (NRPF) problems access to housing and subsistence costs for up to 40 days for those who apply to remain in the UK under the ‘domestic violence rule,’ will be extended from September 2009 to March 2011. She also stated that the Government was committed to finding a long-term solution to the problem.
Southall Black Sisters has been campaigning for reform on NRPF for 20 years. In 2007, we established the ‘Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds,’ a coalition involving over 30 leading human rights and women’s organisations, which has been working with the Home Office on developing and monitoring the pilot scheme, and lobbying for a permanent solution. We welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement, and call on the Government to reform the benefit and immigration rules to exempt all women subjected to domestic violence, trafficking and abuse and exploitation as overseas domestic workers from the NRPF requirement. We also call on the Government to continue to work with us to develop these proposals for reform.