In March 2023, GMIAU, IPPR and Praxis launched a report on the impact of the 10- year route to settlement. From that report, we know there are thousands of people in the North West on the 10-year route – they all have the legal right to be in the UK because of family connections or because of their long-term ties to the UK.

In July, the GMIAU Action Group launched our campaign on the 10-year route policy, with an event titled: A Dialogue with Local Authorities in Northwest. The purpose for this event was to learn, share our lived experience and work together with people that are working in our local and voluntary sectors on what impact of the 10-year route has on peoples’ lives and for a better understanding and support. Read our blog for a summary of the event and what our next steps are.

Why did we plan this?

Learn – For our local authorities to have a better understanding of the impact of the 10-year route on resident.

Share – To hear first-hand stories of our issues and experiences we face due to the 10-year route policy.

Work Together – To exchange ideas and ask questions with other local authorities and support organisations and share best practice.

We felt it was needed for our local authorities and people with lived experience to be in a space where they are able to do this for a better understanding. We invited frontline staff working in No Recourse to Public Funds, Housing, Children and Families departments of local authorities. We learned that people really needed this to happen because of the quality of the information gathered/gained, especially by Local Authorities.

To get a sense of the day, you can watch this video produced by DBpix Productions.

Opening of the day

The event was hosted by our Community Organiser Fatou Jinadu and supported by members of the action group. We welcomed everyone in to the space and acknowledged the resilience and effort of the action group for making the event happen.

A brief history of Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit was given by the Chief Executive Officer Denise McDowell. She spoke about the need for the Unit when it was set up in 1989. We heard about the hostile environment, which started way before our struggles began.

The Action group explained the reasons why we are all gathered here. Here is what they said:

“We are here to raise awareness of the 10-year route and how it’s affected communities and people around the North West.  

To make sure that local authorities are aware that this brutal route exists for people within their communities. They need to know how people are being affected, ending up in debt, poverty, homelessness, and being exploited because of their circumstances.  

We know from experience that some will say it’s not their problem, it’s a national issue from the Home Office so not something they will locally deal with. But housing, poverty, cost of living, childcare: all things our local authorities can help with. Local authorities can choose to bring us in and help us rather than leaving us excluded. 

If we don’t hear from people who have experienced it, it can look like just a law. But for us to lead by talking about our lived experience, we’re able to understand each other and engage in meaningful dialogue.  

We can shed a light on what brings us here, what we have had to go through, the things we’ve missed out on and how it’s affected us, rather than just seeing it as laws and regulations.  

And this is a dialogue: we want to hear from people working in local authorities and representing their local area too. What are they doing already to support people on the 10-year route; what can we learn from each other; what could be done better, in dialogue with people who are experiencing the route?”

This was so powerfully presented by the Action group and made everyone in the space understand why this event was very important to us and other residents with lived experience.

Nicola Burgess, a Senior Solicitor at GMIAU, explained the legal meaning of the route and how and when the route stated. Members of the action group read out a statement of what the route looks and feels like to them. What surprised a lot of us from Nicola’s legal perspective was that the route is fairly new – it’s only recently been 10 years of the 10 year route (it was introduced in 2012). It was a reminder that this route was created and can be changed.

GM Jokers performance 

The Jokers are a group of lived-experience people and they use legislative theatre to raise awareness. We used the Jokers to set the tone of the space. The first thing they did was to get everyone up and moving in an interactive game. They then performed a scene about a person with no recourse to public funds and how difficult it is to access voluntary and LA services due to pre-judgement of migrants or policies that are in place by government or unconscious ones that are created by people in power. This is the Hostile Environment in action. It set the tone for the day by making us think about how all of us can play a role in how someone experiences the Hostile Environment.

Workshops and feedback

After the scene by the GM Jokers we set out three questions for people to discuss on their tables. We had local authority staff, a facilitator and at least one person with lived experience of the 10 year route on each table, in order for them to have a meaningful conversation. Our brilliant facilitators were Tania from WeBelong, Ben from Greater Manchester Tenants Union, Kim from Visit from the Stork CIC, Philippa from Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network, Dada who is a campaigner and poet, and Olivia from Women’s Integration Network.  The questions we asked people to discuss were:

  • Have you seen or experienced the effects of the 10 year route, in your work or in your personal life?
  • What are you doing to help people in this situation?​
  • Cost of living crisis – People on the 10 year route are still expected to pay for visa fees. What support is there for people in this situation?​
  • What’s working well in terms of support and what needs to be better?

​Key findings from these discussions included a real lack of awareness and training about the immigration issues people in our communities are facing; a lack of joined-up services; inconsistency in levels of support; and confusion about rights and entitlements. Many people admitted they hadn’t even heard of the 10 year route before our event.

An attendee writes: “I came here with what I thought was basic knowledge of NRPF + immigration issues. But I actually had no idea.”

Mini workshops

We called our activity after lunch “mini workshops”. Members of the action group shared their own lived experience testimonies of how the 10 year route had affected their lives, with an opportunity for discussion and questions after each testimony. Some key themes that came up were the impact on our children of us having insecure status, or of having insecure status themselves; that the route divides families; the impact on our mental health; and the debt and financial struggle caused by high visa fees. 

An attendee writes: “Before today I was ignorant to your struggles and how it affects you financially and emotionally.”


From the set up and presentation of the event to the engagement from Local Authorities, this day was a big win for us all. Internally we have gone through so many struggles just to make the day happen but had so many wins to celebrate. This was the first time ever the Action Group met in person, after over a year of meeting weekly online.

Members of the Action Group felt heard, and we gained a member from the event. She is currently on the 10-year route. Speaking about how moving she found the listening day, she said, “What’s the biggest word you’ve got in you? It was spectacular. Truly. It was dope.” She said although she had been in UK since she was 6 years old and experienced immigration issues her whole life – as well as most of the people around her – she still gained so much knowledge.

We learned that we have a lot of work to do together to solve this, but it was an uplifting day despite that, because listening to people’s experiences made our attendees feel inspired and determined to commit to do this work.

Visa fees hike

But the next day was like a punch in the stomach, when it was announced the government was planning to raise visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge for migrants. Everyone who attended the event had heard about how hard it was to save and afford the fees at the level they were already at. This news didn’t push us back but made is realise the power that we have within us. We are not going to sit back and let the government use us as ATM. We are broke but not broken. The system is design to break us mentally, financially and sometimes physically but we will not be broken. The government and their policies are racist and discriminating to migrants and people on the 10-year route are impacted the most with all this unpredictable government.

Here is a member of the action group talking about how she is currently struggling to save up for the current visa fees.   

For more information you can also read our Action Group statement.

Get involved

We are not defeated. Our next step is to take part in a National Day of Action against the visa fees hike organised by Migrant Voice. In Manchester we’ll be holding a demonstration on St Peters Square at 1pm on Tuesday 31st October. If you’re based in or around Manchester, please join us there, and stand in solidarity with us and everyone affected by the fee hike. If you’re elsewhere, check out how to get involved where you are.