Queen Mary’s law centre throws down challenge on refugees’ ‘leave to remain’

A desperate child refugee... scene of dispair in war-torn Syria

A desperate child refugee... scene of dispair in war-torn Syria - Credit: QM University

Three days of human rights events are being stage next month in east London with a challenge of whether refugees from war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan have a right to stay in Britain.

It follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement yesterday that up to 3,000 Syrian children who have arrived without their parents might be allowed status to remain.

Events include advice sessions and ends with a film about a refugee’s rights, followed by an audience questions-and-answers session with the actor in the lead role and the film’s producer.

The Criminal Justice Centre at Queen Mary University is anxious to make contact with refugees who have already arrived and may be living in London.

It is holding advice sessions for refuges on right to profession, right to education and general legal advice, taking place February 15 and 16 at the university’s Mile End Campus.

The movie, Leave to Remain, is being screened February 18 in the university’s People’s Palace Great Hall in Mile End Road at 6.30pm, hosted by the Human Rights Collegium and Queen Mary’s Criminal Justice Centre, supported by the Centre for Public Engagement.

Bruce Goodison wrote this film from the real experiences of the thousands of teenagers who land here alone every year.

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“Imagine what it’s like to lose everything that is familiar to you,” he says. “You have to cope as an adult while still a teenager, in an alien society.

“Their stories can tell us something important about ourselves, and the way we treat others.”

His script is a provocative ‘coming of age’ story about a young Afghan boy whose arrival sets off a chain of events that jeopardises the future of those closest to him. He plays an unwitting game of chance where winning and being allowed to stay in Britain is not always what it seems. All hope hinges on just how good a story he can tell.

The film features, alongside established actors, a cast of teenage refugees who have been trained through a film academy run by the movie-makers’ production team. It was an ‘Official Selection’ of the 2013 BFI London International Film Festival and the 2014 Lucas International Children’s Film Festival.

The February 18 screening of Leave to Remain, starting 6.30pm, is followed by a Q&A with the BAFTA-award winning director Bruce Goodison and actor Noof Ousellam. There is also a talk by Queen Mary’s professor Elspeth Guild.