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Perth charity honoured for lifeline support to hundreds of EU nationals, including victims of human traffickers

Paul Graham, chief executive of PKAVS
Paul Graham, chief executive of PKAVS

They came to Scotland in search of jobs which promised a better, brighter future for their families.

But they ended up staying in cramped, squalid accommodation in Perth, living off potatoes and trying to survive on just one pound a day.

Police swooped on the migrant workers’ flat in the city’s Rannoch Road and discovered five people sharing just two mattresses.

Investigators found two of the men had been transported from Glasgow Airport by their Romanian gangmaster, a 31-year-old father-of-three, who had driven them round local farms for work.

The men were made homeless when police raided the flat and led their captor away in handcuffs.

Now the Perth charity which helped rescue the  victims and gave them hope for the future has been honoured by the Home Office.

PKAVS has given lifeline support to about 1,700 vulnerable EU nationals, including victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse.

They helped them secure their status as part of the EU Settlement Scheme.

Thanks to the charity’s Minority Communities Hub, the two victims of human trafficking were given permanent homes and new jobs.

As well as victims of atrocities, PKAVS has offered lifeline support to members of minority ethnic communities from a wide range of backgrounds, including those who have severe mental health problems and those who feel isolated by society.

Now the charity is getting a slice of £17 million worth of Home Office funding to continue its work, which has been a key focus for the minority communities team since summer 2019.

Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster praised staff at the Perth charity during a virtual meeting. “Charities like PKAVS have been doing a superb job providing support to ensure vulnerable EU citizens are able to secure their status,” he said.

PKAVS chief executive Paul Graham said: “The Minority Communities Hub has been supporting people from around the world who have chosen to make Perth and Kinross their home for over 10 years.

“Through assisting EU citizens to apply for and secure their settled status, we are proud to play our part to support the enormous contribution EU citizens make to the social, economic and cultural vibrancy of Perth and Kinross, and the UK as a whole.”

He said: “We would like to thank the Home Office for their excellent support throughout the EU settlement scheme process, which has helped PKAVS to empower 1,700 people to understand and apply for the EU settlement scheme.”

The charity has highlighted the case of the Boros family – not their real name – who lived in Perth with their three children.

Mrs Boros was a full-time carer for her eldest child, who is physically disabled. Without a wheelchair friendly car, the mother and child were effectively housebound, while neither parent had digital skills nor could speak English.

The family was referred to PKAVS by social workers for help applying for EU settled status. PKAVS was able to give them end-to-end support, as they did not have devices or email addresses to fill in the forms themselves.

Having settled status has opened the doors for a wide range of support.

 

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