The EU Citizens Support service from this week is now backed up by a full time helpline as well as dedicated advisers based across Scotland.
The scheme, funded by both the UK government and Scottish Government, is specifically focused on people who:
- have difficulty accessing an android mobile phone
- have limited access to the internet
- find it difficult to get the evidence needed to apply
- are at greater risk due to personal circumstances
- have specific immigration or residency issues
This morning Scottish Government Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development Ben Macpherson received a briefing on the enhanced service from Citizens Advice Scotland.
In addition to the full time telephone service advisers based around the country, the project will also undertake community outreach across Scotland, as well as establish dedicated EU settlement champions at each bureau who will lead on the services to be provided face to face to EU citizens.
The scheme will also look to integrate with outreach services targeted at specific demographics – such as seasonal agricultural workers and hospitality industry staff.
Ben Macpherson, Migration Minister said:
“The Scottish Government has a simple message for EU citizens in Scotland: you are welcome here, we want you to stay and we will help you to stay. This 0800 916 9847 telephone service is there to help support EU citizens through the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme application process, and I hope it will be helpful for those who need advice.
“The service will be particularly helpful for more vulnerable and hard to reach groups, who may find it difficult to apply online without assistance, including people living in remote and rural areas.
“So many questions about the UK government’s Brexit process remain unanswered, and in this uncertain situation it is crucial that people understand their rights. That is why the Scottish Government has put together the Stay in Scotland package to provide extra support for EU citizens in Scotland, so that they continue to feel welcome and highly valued here.”
Shaina Gabi, Citizens Advice Edinburgh EU Specialist Support Adviser, said:
“I’ve volunteered in my local bureau previously and have been working on the service since it started in March. Since then we have seen calls from all over Scotland and in some cases even people from across Europe who have lived in Scotland previously and would want to come back in the future.
“What we’ve seen with the service so far is people are more likely to get in touch closer to deadlines in the Brexit process. That is understandable but we want to ensure that more complex cases are handled well in advance on the 31 October Brexit deadline.
“If people need any advice and support to stay in Scotland then they should call the helpline on 0800 916 9847. “
Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said:
“With a footprint in every community in Scotland and 80 years of experience in delivering advice for people who need it, the Citizens Advice network is uniquely positioned to deliver this project.
“The Brexit process is causing uncertainty for many people, and especially for citizens who also face the added anxiety of a potentially complex application process to stay in the United Kingdom.
“That’s why we are here to help EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who need assistance when making an application for settled or pre-settled status to remain in the UK after Brexit.
“Through our work funded by the Scottish Government and the Home Office, we can help people who have difficulty accessing an android mobile phone, or difficulty getting online, finds it difficult to get the evidence needed to apply, are at greater risk due to personal circumstances or have specific immigration or residency issues.
“With the new Brexit deadline of 31 October we are encouraging people to contact their local bureaux or phone 0800 916 9847 for help and support.”