James Davies wrote this piece in 2016 – long before lockdown! He has since retired from ICN, but his wonderful description perfectly captures what it is like to work at ICN. The routine, the unpredictability, and the joy of being able to share with our clients both in their sorrows and in their rejoicing.

Alarm. Tea & Bible. Breakfast. See my wife off to work. Dog up to Taskers Meadow. Car and ferry to Bournemouth. 

The ICN staff convene at 9 and have a few minutes of prayer to commit the day to the Lord and seek His wisdom for all we will face. Then it is look at the diary to see who is expected, get out the relevant files, deal with any immediate messages or emails. 

Appointments include: 

  • A Syrian refugee, newly arrived, who wants to talk about getting a visa for his wife and children to join him. He comes with a friend to interpret. 
  • An older white South African couple who want to settle in the UK with their adult children who all have British Citizenship. Will it be possible?  
  • An Asian woman who is being hit by her British husband. He is using her visa status (here as a spouse) as a weapon against her – threatening that she will be deported if she tells anyone or tries to leave home. 
  • A friend of many years, a Kurdish refugee, who has now qualified for British Citizenship, coming to complete the application form. 
  • A West Indian, in the UK since childhood in the early 1960s, who has never sought British Citizenship. His employer is now asking for evidence that he is allowed to work. 

In the middle of the morning the post arrives. Rejoicing around the office that a Tibetan that we have been standing with for seven years has won an appeal and is likely to be able to stay. Sadness that an Iranian has been refused a travel document – I put the papers on one side to look at in detail later to see if the decision can be challenged. A letter from the Home Office asking for extra information for someone to support his application made a couple of months ago. 

All the while there are phone calls from other local organisations, or prospective clients with complex questions asking for “just two minutes of time – it’ll be very quick”; the buzz from the English class upstairs, and from the child whose parents are seeking help in the next room; grabbing and being grabbed by colleagues with questions – as none of us know everything, but between us we know a lot. 

I nip out mid-afternoon to see a friend, with whom I spend a regular hour each week studying Mark’s gospel.

Back to catch up with some paperwork – never finished. Some of the most productive time is after other staff have left and I can work through things in quietness. 

Then it’s the ferry. Supper. Catch up with my wife’s day. Walk the dog on the Downs. Bit of television. Bath & bed. 

James Davies – Senior Immigration Advisor (now retired)

14 May 2020

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