In the beginning we were just a small group of young people wanting to make a change. We couldn’t get student finance for university so in March 2014 we started to meet fortnightly to see what we could do about it. We’ve come a long way since then.

 

We were three young people who were unable to take up our places at university and we wanted to make a change.

 

April 2014 – An under-represented group

We spent a lot of time researching other groups and organisations to try and find allies. We went to meetings about university; about young people and about migration issues – and even went to the Houses of Parliament – but nobody seemed to be focused on helping young people like us take up their places at university.

We had a nice time at all these meetings, and learned a lot, but who was speaking up for young people like us?

 

May 2014 – Venturing out

It took us a few months to speak in public about our experiences and our project. But we knew that this was an important issue and that there were no doubt many more young people out there like us. So we started to step out and spread the word…

Outside Praxis in Tower Hamlets, where we were able to speak with the brilliant Brighter Futures youth group about access to university for young people like us.

 

July 2014 – Getting organised!

We’d never heard of ‘community organising’ before, and we’d certainly never previously planned a campaign, so it was AMAZING to meet one of the most inspirational community organisers out there: Carlos Saavedra. Carlos spoke to us during his visit from the US. He helped us realise that our stories were our most powerful and motivating asset. If we weren’t going to tell them, someone else would.

Carlos inspired us and gave us the confidence to tell our stories in public, so that other young people like us would hear about the campaign.

 

September 2014 – Our first publicity

After speaking with Carlos, Chrisann knew what she had to do. She immediately wrote to her local newspaper, the Hackney Citizen, and just a few months later, Let Us Learn (we’d come up with a better name by now) was in print.

Chrisann has lived in Hackney since she arrived in the UK aged 7. She went to primary and secondary school in the borough.

 

October 2014 – National press coverage

October and November 2014 brought pivotal moments for the campaign. We knew that the campaign needed national media coverage to grow and to further raise awareness amongst young people like us. Chrisann plucked up the courage to tell her story in the Guardian, and then on BBC Newsnight. Let Us Learn has never looked back since.

Chrisann stands outside her university for the feature in the Guardian newspaper.

 

December 2014 – Let Us Learn grows

The media coverage meant that many more young people facing the same barriers to education heard about Let Us Learn and asked to get involved. Nearly every single young person we spoke with said the same thing: they thought they were the only person in this position and that they were alone.

Most of these young people were attending for the first time. Three have gone on to win scholarships, and several are now core members of the campaign team.

 

March 2015 – Chrisann wins award

In 2014, Chrisann was recognised for her work when she was nominated for the Liberty Human Rights Awards. And in March 2015 she went one better, winning Young Woman of the year at the Women on the Move Awards.

 

April 2015 – Bringing young people together

In early 2015, we started to work closely with some of the leading experts in this area of immigration law. Solange Valdez from the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) ran several workshops on immigration law that were attended by many young people and brought new energy to the campaign. At this stage, before the Supreme Court case, changing our immigration status was the only option most of us had to get to university.

Let Us Learn campaigner Ijeoma shares her story to a packed house of young people seeking immigration advice in the hope that they can attend university.

 

May 2015 – Demanding change

In the months and weeks before the 2015 general election, we mobilised and attended as many public meetings with prospective party candidates as we could. We travelled around London and put these local representatives on the spot. We stood up, told our stories and asked them whether they felt it was right that we were denied access to education.

Let Us Learn campaigners grilling the Liberal Democrat candidate for Greenwich at a pre-election hustings meeting.

 

June 2015 – Getting serious

We started to prepare for the legal challenge to the student finance rules that would be heard in the Supreme Court at the end of June, and to plan our demonstration on the day. But we didn’t know how the Tigere case would go, so we also started planning for a longer campaign and produced leaflets and even some Let Us Learn t-shirts!

Dami looking serious as we prepare for the Supreme Court date with destiny, and the long campaign if we were not successful.

 

June 2015 – Demonstrating at the Supreme Court

Wednesday 24th June 2015 was a huge day for the Let Us Learn campaign as we came out in force in support of the Supreme Court challenge to the student finance regulations. Over fifty young people from across London and the UK who were impacted by the issue gathered and we even had the support of four members of parliament. We had loads of media coverage, including from the Daily Telegraph. 

Young Let Us Learn campaigners outside the Supreme Court in support of the legal challenge to the student finance rules.

 

At the Supreme Court: “Young, gifted and blocked! Young, gifted and blocked!”

 

At the Supreme Court: Let Us Learn campaigners tell their stories

 

July 2015 – An extra boost from the Dreamers

While we waited for the decision from the Supreme Court, we were lucky enough to have a visit from two incredible migrants’ rights campaigners from the US, Lucas Codognolla and Renata Teodoro. They gave us belief that we were doing the right thing and that we could carry on, no matter what the decision of the court.

 

July 2015 – Victory at the Supreme Court

Just over one month after our first Supreme Court demonstration, we gathered again. We only had one week’s notice of the date but we were still able to gather a huge crowd of young people who were impacted by the issue. When the court delivered it’s decision, we could hardly believe what we were hearing. The case received loads more media coverage, including in the Daily Mail and Guardian newspapers.

Let Us Learn campaigners deliver victory speeches outside the Supreme Court.

 

October 2015 – Developing young leaders

Although many more young people can now take up their places at university, our mission does not stop there. We are focused on raising awareness of access to higher education for young people with irregular immigration statuses and are developing ourselves and other young leaders to take forward our message. We held our first leadership academy in October and are already speaking to young people in schools and colleges about the issue

The first Let Us Learn leadership academy when twenty young people gathered to share their stories.

 

EVERYTHING after October 2015!!

Check out our Twitter and Facebook, too much to update on!