Thursday 7 May 2020 1:11 AM UTC
By Balagopal (www.ukmalayalee.com)
LONDON May 7: In a noble gesture, an internationally reputed lawyer has decided to set aside some time, amidst his busy schedule to help those stranded Indian students in the UK.
Janeevan John of Singhania & Co Solicitor was behind securing an important piece of history owned by India in the UK recently. The Ambedkar Museum in London’s plush Primrose Hill in London was the home of Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution.
Dr BR Ambedkar lived at 10 King Henry’s Road in Primrose Hill between 1921 and 1922 and therefore, it was bought by Maharashtra government in 2015 to be converted into a museum.
However, Camden Council, under which the property comes under, argued that BR Ambedkar’s stay in Primrose Hill was too short and that he wasn’t well-known enough in Britain to be a person of wider interest and this conversion will result in the loss of residential units.
The enforcement notice served by Camden Council was challenged by Janeevan John of Singhania and Co. in the Public Enquiry on behalf of the Indian government and had the council notice quashed which brought in a huge win for Indians all over the world in preserving the pride of Dr BR Ambedkar.
In a brief tete-tete Janeevan John spoke to Balagopal
Amidst your busy schedule what made you get involved with helping out the stranded students in the UK?
The Covid pandemic affected our lives so abruptly that we all had to adjust to new ways of life. Amidst all the mayhem I too started to read articles about the stranded Indian students among other Indians.
Thus, we started a 30 minutes free legal consultancy during the lockdown for the community. It was a thinking process which evolved in my mind on what I could offer during this pandemic to the vulnerable and homeless as they will be the hardest hit in any part of the world.
It was during this time the Coronavirus Act 2020 was also enacted and announcements were made by the government on various aspect of business loans, furlough etc, etc.
We set out a team and a flyer was sent out through known people who promoted this initiative. At present we are dealing in various areas of Law like immigration, conveyancing, litigation, employment, corporate etc but the largest number of initial enquiries are from international students.
Can you please tell us how many students you have helped since Covid-19 pandemic broke out? What are their biggest issues?
Indian students, particularly students from Kerala, were the majority of the callers. The biggest issue they were facing was in nutshell is shortage of money.
As a result of Covid-19 many lost their part time job, many were afraid to go to work in care homes, did not have money to pay college fees, were short of money for food and accommodation.
All international students coming to the UK for studies are technically economically sound but in reality not. They need part time job to meet their daily needs and they have no recourse to public funds.
The majority of the enquiry came to me was relating to rent arrears. Many landlords and agents are pressurising these students for the rent payment or asking them to vacate. These circumstances are creating huge anxiety and stress for the students.
We are providing a pragmatic approach while dealing with students of this nature. Very large number of students have benefited from this consultation directly and indirectly.
Can you tell us any situations where you have thought or stuck with not knowing how to help or move ahead with a particular situation.
Which was the most difficult case you faced?
Many students arrived in the months of January, February and even early March 2020. Therefore, these students lacked knowledge in the welfare system which initially has been a bit of a hassle but they all picked up fast because of networking among students.
There was an incident where a student called me on a Saturday night due to getting assaulted by thugs. This student was struck in the head with a bat and was afraid of going to A&E due to the fear of infection from Covid-19.
I provided him with the guidance in regards to him obtaining the treatment and keeping him safe.
Where you based in the UK and where are you from Kerala and please tell us a brief about your family
Our office is based at 134 Buckingham Palace Road, London, Sw1W 9SA and I live in Essex with wife and two kids. I was brought up in Muvattupuzha, near to Kochi.
If there is a student who needs help how will they contact you and how do you prefer them to help and what are the things you will require from them when they call you.
Students and others can contact me either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 01316186671. Just say who you are, where you are calling from and a brief about your query and we will take it on from there.
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