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UK News Chadwick Jackson: Filmmaker Forced To Turn Down Work As Immigration Limbo Drags On

10:50  16 february  2020
10:50  16 february  2020 Source:   huffingtonpost.co.uk

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a man looking at the camera: Chadwick Jackson © Chadwick Jackson Chadwick Jackson

Forced to turn down a prestigious job offer and unable to financially support himself, British-Jamaican filmmaker Chadwick Jackson has been left in agonising limbo for a year as his immigration battle drags on.

His story first appeared in HuffPost UK in July, when he told how a simple admin oversight and a dispute over a train ticket had left him without work, money or permanent accommodation. It will be a similar tale to some of those on board Tuesday’s Home Office-sponsored deportation flight to Jamaica, which went ahead at the last minute despite widespread protests.

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“It very easily could have been me [aboard the plane],” Chadwick told HuffPost UK. “Those passengers have names, stories, lives, and livelihoods – their fellow people built the NHS.

“The Home Office is driving people into a life of crime and destitution by locking them out of the labour market, civic society and the ability to provide for themselves and their families. [...]

“The Home Office is wilfully destroying lives, and every single British citizen who sits back and allows this to happen is allowing pure evil to be committed in their name.”

Was he surprised that, despite the waves of protests and demonstrations, the plane actually took flight?

“Yes and no,” said Chadwick, 28. “The Home Office want to fulfil a narrative of getting rid of ‘violent’ Jamaicans – a concept that is popularised across various parts of society and even in the media through shows like Top Boy and Idris Elba’s Yardie. It is all interconnected.”

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He called out the government’s “lack of accountability” for how Jamaicans are treated in Britain, adding: “The gross simplification of Jamaican identity in the UK to crime and violence is downright lazy.”

Chadwick’s ordeal started with something as simple as a ticket inspection. While travelling on a train one day in February last year, he was asked to show his e-ticket, he says, but his phone battery happened to be dead so he couldn’t prove he’d paid. An argument ensued, and he was arrested. Up to this point, Chadwick had no criminal record.

He was taken to a police station where they processed him and took his fingerprints. That was when the aspiring film producer was told that he was in the country without leave to remain.

Having arrived in the UK at the age of 10, Chadwick’s right to remain had recently expired and he was unable to renew it due to a lack of finances.

For a year, he has been waiting to hear whether he will be charged for his unpaid train ticket – if he is convicted, he could be deported immediately.

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The aspiring film producer has been stuck in limbo ever since, having to report to the Home Office every month, unable to work in a country he regards as his home.

a man looking at the camera: Chadwick Jackson © Chadwick Jackson Chadwick Jackson

In the midst of this, Chadwick was headhunted by leading London advertising agency Iris, but could not accept either because of his immigration status. He also won a place at a prestigious creative company’s night school, but is now unable to take up the work placement that is a central part of it.

“Advertising agencies all want me through the door,” he said, “but none of them know how to pay me or remunerate me for my time.

“It definitely affects your self esteem when you’re not able to provide.

“It ruined a lot of relationships for me when I’m not even not in a position to treat my partner, and I don’t want to feel like I am a burden on someone else’s life.

“At times, I feel like my life lacks independence. When you’re in situations like mine, don’t be surprised at the illicit offers that people make to try and take advantage of your situation.”

The irony, he says, is that the Home Office wants people to spell out how they contribute to society in their applications for right to stay in Britain – but leave people unable to do so.

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“The hostile environment is evil,” he said. “How are you gonna stop me providing for myself and then ask how I provide benefit to the country? How do you take away someone’s opportunity to be happy, provide for themselves, eat, work, have hygiene, to have a place to call home – then ask them how they’re being a valid member of society?”

In October, Chadwick earned a place at a night school for young creatives run by creative, advertising and design company D&AD.

The “New Blood Shift” has been running for four years to promote diversity in the creative industries with a travel bursary for young creatives who haven’t been to university.

Paul Drake, the director of D&AD, told HuffPost UK: “It’s a crying shame that Chadwick, who has great talent, is in a really frustrating position. What the course does is enable people to really kickstart careers. I don’t doubt that he’s learned a great deal but now he’s unable to move onto the next stage and get the placement which this course is all about.”

Drake said applicant immigration status is not something the company asks about specifically, but that Chadwick had volunteered it.

“The whole purpose of the course is to give opportunities to those who face significant barriers getting into the creative industry,” he said. “That’s not just a philanthropic proposition that D&AD has – it’s very much about the industry needing diverse talent, different voices coming into it to stay relevant, to be credible, to do more interesting work.

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“Chadwick’s was another type of barrier or challenge that we needed to try and help him through via the course. We wanted to allow him to have the best chance possible once this situation is hopefully resolved to have a great creative career.”

a group of people posing for the camera: Chadwick Jackson and family © Family photo Chadwick Jackson and family

Chadwick began the D&AD programme in October 2019 and successfully completed it on January 31. This saw him move to London with the help of some relocation funding from the company.

“I can’t speak highly enough of them as an institution and organisation for the support that they’ve given me,” said Chadwick.

Rebecca O’Brien, a BAFTA award-winning film producer (“For I, Daniel Blake”), has been mentoring Chadwick for more than five years.

“It seems absurd that as the film industry is belly-aching about the lack of diversity, someone like Chadwick is unable to realise his full potential,” she told HuffPost UK, “because of the threat of deportation and lack of resources for him to complete a course that would add a talented film-maker to an industry where his voice is sorely needed.”

I’m very much British. If you hear me speak, I’ve got a British accent. The idea that I am not seen that way is difficult.- Chadwick Jackson

Chadwick is currently living off money raised through a crowdfunding campaign set up to help support him while he’s unable to work.

The Birmingham native is in between addresses and “walks everywhere” due to limited funds.

Daily life is a struggle and his mental health has been severely impacted, but the prospect of light at the end of the tunnel helps keep him going.

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“I’ve felt like [such] a burden at times that it almost affected my ability to ask for help,” he said, “because the shame was so overwhelming.

“I have moments where I really want to shut myself off from the world. Though I might feel helpless being a friend to somebody is a duty. Being a family member, even though it’s difficult with my family, one duty I take seriously more than anything else is being an uncle.

“I adore my nieces and nephews – to see a generation of my family born here, without having to go through the struggles I am. I literally want to be in a position one day to provide for them, to shield them from some of the mishaps that I had to go through in my adolescence. I just want to get on with my life.”

George Kapellos met Chadwick in unlikely circumstances – having paid for his train ticket after he forgot his Oyster card. The pair struck up a friendship and George now mentors Chadwick.

He slammed the ongoing Home Office delay.

“I believe it’s unfair, especially when taking into consideration the fact that Chadwick could have a brilliant future in the marketing industry of a country that has historically been a melting pot of cultures and races all working together harmoniously,” George told HuffPost UK.

Another glowing reference comes from author Joy White, whose project on grime music he contributed to.

“What I see before me is young man in a hostile and adverse environment,” she said. “Despite this, Chadwick has retained his creativity, and his capacity for innovation. His generosity of spirit has not dimmed, and he was kind enough to use his knowledge to support my project. What I hope is that Chadwick gets the citizenship he is entitled to and the the world gets the great filmmaker we deserve.”

Over the last year, with his future in Britain lying in the balance, the 28-year-old has at least realised he is not alone in this battle to remain in the UK.

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“It’s been very difficult, to say the least, but the story going public through HuffPost UK made me realise that there is a lot of people in this country going through this,” he said. “There are a lot of people being exploited by the Home Office because of poor, unclear immigration advice and I think it’s a serious travesty what people are going through in this country and are scared to say.

“I’ve got direct messages on Twitter from people who are either going through the same thing I am or know people who are.

“I’m very much British. If you hear me speak, I’ve got a British accent. This idea that I am not seen that way is difficult. It’s difficult for other people to be witnessing this too because it sends the message that no one is safe.”

Vestra Lawyers - the firm representing Chadwick - confirmed that solicitors have contacted the Home Office about his case on a number of occasions this past year. Each time, they have been advised that the matter is still unresolved.

The most recent correspondence was made in January when counsel explained the severe impact that this ongoing situation is having upon their client’s mental health.

A spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “The matter remains pending since submissions made on 9th April 2019 and Chadwick has been expected to report on a regular basis despite not being permitted to work for the travel costs incurred.”

The Home Office has been approached for comment.

a man and a woman taking a selfie: Chadwick & acclaimed Jamaican photographer Jaja Muhammed at an event in London. © HuffPost UK Chadwick & acclaimed Jamaican photographer Jaja Muhammed at an event in London. a person standing posing for the camera: Chadwick completed a training course with D&AD, an advertising and design programme for aspiring creatives. © HuffPost UK Chadwick completed a training course with D&AD, an advertising and design programme for aspiring creatives.

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