Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

A week and a half ago, I interviewed for a social worker position within the Referral and Assessment team in the Child Protection unit of the south London borough that I had been volunteering with over the past two months. If any of you reading don’t remember, because everyone who hears that I was volunteering my social work services says, “Whoa. Well, you’re a better person than I am,” I was volunteering to get some recent, UK experience to make my CV look better, mine being so far back and none of it in the UK. I was only mildly nervous about the interview, pretty much knowing that I had it in the bag because nearly every manager has come up to me and told me specifically what a good job I’m doing and how hard a worker I am. Then all the girls started asking me if I remembered this, or that, or the other, and then “revising” with me (“studying” is called “revising” in the UK), and I began to get nervous. The Children Acts 1989 and 2004, sections specifically pertaining to CP work (7, 17, 20, 23, 47 and definitely others, there was a huge list, ACK!), Stay Safe, Be Healthy, Enjoy and Achieve, Achieve Economic Wellbeing, Make a Positive Contribution (five markers they use to gauge the wellbeing of children and families in the UK), and operations questions like, “What happens when you get a referral from a member of the public?”

I don’t think I’ll be revealing any trade secrets here, but my manager didn’t ask me any questions like that. I think it’s because I wasn’t educated here, making him less interested in whether or not I already knew statutory information, which is something I can learn on the job, as he was in finding out my general social work knowledge and attitudes, and how I would deal with certain situations I might find myself in while out in the field. The only one I didn’t pass with flying colors was when dealing with underage mothers, where I forgot that the mother herself is still considered a child, and must be treated accordingly, with us watching out for her needs and wants as much as those of her child. With my skills checked and my character already vouched for through the past two months, I was offered a start date of 1st June, pending final approval!

For about a week, I sweated over the phrase “pending final approval”. I was pretty sure I would be OK but feared some dark horse UK QSW would come out of the woodwork wanting a permanent position to sweep my spot out from under me. I need not have worried because late this past week I received confirmation that I did indeed have a job to go to on Tuesday, and that I would be taking the title of Senior Social Worker. It’s a little nerve wracking; apparently senior social workers may be assigned higher caseloads than social workers, but my deputy head manager already told me they would only be assigning me Initial Assessments at first. And since I don’t have a car, and will be riding my bike as well as taking public transportation, I’ve negotiated the probability of not being assigned far-flung cases, or those in the hillier region of the council. Phew! I’ve also been given the use of a tablet, ostensibly so I can learn the handwriting system and write notes instead of the more distracting-to-clients typing notes down, but also so that I may try to keep up with paperwork while using public transportation. Apparently every hour with the families generates about 6 hours of paperwork, a daunting figure when you take timescales into account.

I will still need to buy a new computer for working from home as my old Mac won’t allow me to access the internet program to write case notes, but overall I’m feeling pretty prepared for this job. But I am shitting myself just a little bit. I’ll be working again, after a 16-month absence from the work force. Time to get on it! One bank holiday weekend to recover from a 5 time zone change.

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I have been eligible to vote for 14 years now, and have rarely used my enfranchisement to much good. Though Florida, where I was raised, is a swing state, I was only able to put that to use in the 2000 elections, and we all know what good that did! Actually, do we? I wonder how much of the fiasco made it through to the average British citizen, and especially those who were my age at the time. Recently, I had a near-altercation online with someone who thought it was “ironic” that America went to an illegal war over oil, killing British soldiers, and civilians, and now oil was washing up on our shores. I countered that the American government had started that war, and that neither I, nor anyone I cared to know, had supported it. This person came back with something along the lines of “By the people, for the people and of the people”; I responded, “Yeah, because everyone in this country is a chav or a Tory,” very close to blasting them about civic participation, gubernatorial representation, and did they feel their government adequately reflected their opinions and ideas? In my froth of rage, I wanted to school this person on the 2000 elections and the recount that was called off by Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who just so happened to be under George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, and then, shockingly, working in Washington soon after. My subsequent realization that I was being trolled cooled me off, but it made me think about elections and my part in the various states in which I’ve lived.

Florida: just 18 for the 2000 elections. Paid attention, discussed the happenings with friends. Ignored local politics. Voted.
Minnesota: The first place I wasn’t oblivious to politics, excited about being a social worker and living in a historically politically active, liberal, democratic state. I wasn’t there long enough to delve heavily into local politics, but I voted for governor, though I suspected that Tim Pawlenty would win, once it was known he had George W. Bush’s support (I was right).
New York: Though I lived in NYC for 6 years, it never felt permanent, and I moved so often, through various municipalities, that I lost steam for local politics.

Local politics are extremely important, moreso than a lot of people think, yet we often neglect them in favor of national politics. Presidential elections only come around every four years but local elections come around much more frequently and have a much larger effect on day-to-day life. I’m really feeling the need to get involved in local politics again, and as such, was extremely excited when last night, a Briton told us that based on his French partner being able to vote, he thought that we, as leave-holders, may vote in local (council) elections. This morning I did a little research, having been saddened that my residence didn’t come through until three days before the election, much too late for me to vote. I did a little searching this morning, but it didn’t take more than a cursory read to realize that neither I nor my husband are eligible to vote in any kind of election in the UK. It would take citizenship for us, though it seems like practically the rest of the world is allowed to vote in, at least, council elections. Below, the requirements. I make sad face now.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you are:

* 16 years old or over and
* a British citizen
* or an Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK

If you are 16 or 17, you can only register if you will be 18 within the lifetime of the electoral register. You cannot vote until you are 18.

Below is a full list of Commonwealth and European Union countries. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, and resident in the UK, you are eligible to register to vote in UK elections. To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a ‘Commonwealth citizen’ includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

Citizens of the European Union who are not Commonwealth citizens can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections.

European Union countries

Czech Republic

United Kingdom

Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda
The Bahamas
Brunei Darussalam
Fiji Islands
The Gambia

New Zealand
Papua New Guinea

St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia

St Vincent & The Grenadines
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
United Republic of Tanzania
Trinidad & Tobago
United Kingdom

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The Waiting Game

Still no news on the visa front; I was told that I can check the progress of my visa through the system, when I enrolled my biometric data (no retina scan, sadly), but have been unable to find the section of the UK Border Authority’s website that would let me do that. I can’t even find where to ask someone about it. And all numbers given are pay numbers. They sure don’t make it easy for you to navigate that system, do they? Probably the same in every country.

I can’t even remember when I sent everything in. It seems like it may have been about 5-7 weeks ago, and the maximum time length given for expected return of an uncomplicated spousal visa (right of abode) is 14 weeks. I think it has been about 3 weeks since I enrolled my biometric data, where I was told that after the data was compared against national and international databases, and I was vetted, my application would be assigned to a case worker. The husband and I are hoping that it will be no more than another 3 weeks until I get the visa. Apparently I will receive a letter first, letting me know that I will be getting my national identity card (new thing!) and when I do receive that I can breathe a sigh of relief.

As for “work”, my “internship” has been going swimmingly. Well, if by “swimmingly” you think of the frustration of trying to cram a load of new information into your brain in a very short time, then yep! It’s going swimmingly! I’ve been given no more promises than a shot at an interview, but that was more than I had two weeks ago so I’ll take it! Most of the managers have taken the time to come up to me and tell me what a good job I’m doing and how helpful I’ve been around the place, it makes me feel really good. It just seemed like I was floundering around and probably being of some help, but without training I wasn’t sure if I was anywhere near the mark of what kind of work I was supposed to be doing. Now I know there will be training available, on both the caseload system we’ll be using as well as on work-flow and the manner in which to undertake an investigation. I believe I’ll be well supported, and the team is filled with really excellent people I enjoy working with. It’s pretty much a win-win situation.

The garden is coming along, but as my landlord-roommate is painting the fence you’ll all have to wait for update photos. At least the light is out much longer in the day now, I’ll try to take photos during the coming week. For now, a blurry photo of our laundry covered wagon. Laundry fort?

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Prego Pattern

This maternity bubble jumpsuit pattern is what I would call A Terrible Idea. I can’t find a photo of it and the auction is only up for the next five days (I’m really truly seriously tempted to buy it just so I can have the horror for my very own for as long as I want to look at it) but basically, if you read this after the auction is taken down and aren’t able to view it for yourself, the pattern is what you would go for if you wanted to make a pregnant woman look like a very fat three year old. It’s very nearly a pair of footy pajamas with the wide legs that taper at the ankle and box-like torso. Add on, in the case of the middle one, sleeves, and picture it in blue, and bang! Insta-Muppet! I wonder if I would be cool enough to wear the hot-pants length one should the boyfriend (I mean husband!) and I procreate.

The sewing machine has finally been taken to a shop, coincidentally one near O+K, which suits me, and I will pick it up this weekend and (praise be!) begin on some projects I’ve been wanting to make, and have recently ordered from eBay, like this lovely blouse pattern at the left. I can see myself making all three of the blouses but purchased it specifically for the bottom one. Now that I know I will most likely be working in an office, probably required to wear office-like clothes, I’d rather wear stuff like this, that I’ve made myself, than something I had to buy out of H&M or UNI QLO. I prefer this aesthetic anyway. I can get away with dresses at the office, right?

I’d also like to see if I can figure out how to make a pattern for the pair of pants pictured in the ad for the webcomic Humans and Other Myths. I haven’t read any of it, but it does look lovely. Found it on the sidebar of another webcomic I read, Penny and Aggie, an Archie-style comic that sometimes has a Christian bent to it that I ignore (much like I try to ignore the Christian bent I often see if Grey’s Anatomy). I don’t have the skillz of an artist needed to create patterns yet, but I’d like to take classes, so either a) someday, or b) I find someone to barter with. I’m betting on the latter.

Still have some time on the job thing, apparently. I’ll need to get an American-sized passport photo, print out bank statements, and am waiting for a letter from my recruiter touting my hireability. It’s a word, I swear it is.

P.S. It is apparently much harder than it seems to make a mochachino. Maybe that’s b/c I never remember to use espresso en vez de regular coffee. Bleh.

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When I arrived in London I had possession of four bags, two of which contained 89.4 lbs of stuff in them by themselves. Traveling from Heathrow Airport to East Dulwich is no picnic, especially when you’re trying to transport a wheeled duffle bag, a giant camping backpack (bigger than dude-sized as the boyfriend said when he put it on), a little blue wheeled cart, a messenger bag and a cardboard bike box. The bike box wasn’t in oversized luggage and I discovered that it had come in on the flight behind me. This was glorious news! Instead of taking an extremely expensive cab, we were able to take public transportation all the way back home. It was an exhausting trip, especially as he had to wake up at an ungodly hour and I arrived at a slightly less ungodly hour.

The next morning we awoke to a voice mail message saying they’d tried to deliver it at 11:09 p.m. the night before. And thus began a five-day wrangle for my bike box, which also contained an afghan my mother crocheted, an awesome 70s pillow I found in the garage, a flannel duvet cover, four sweaters and various bike-related kit. It finally arrived two nights ago!

Apparently the box rated an inspection, as did the wheeled duffle bag, and I’m missing a present that I brought over for the boyfriend. Coincidence?

We made the popcorn and cranberry garland for the Christmas tree!

I wrapped the tubing, put in dropout spacers, did everything I could think of to protect this bike! And there’s my Mashton bag by Archie’s Grobags.

And aaaaaaall put together! We’ve been riding around in the cold and the rain since we put it together but it’s EFFING cold out and I think I might need more woolen layers before I can expect myself to ride every day. Still, it is so very lovely to be riding my bike again, terrible cold weather or no.

Found this video after hearing the song on BBC6 today.

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We were preparing ourselves for an extremely long wait to hear back regarding my fiancee visa – we had been told 4-6 weeks by the visa company and up to 12 weeks by the British Consulate’s web site. WorldBridge informed us, after I sent the application in, that bank statements printed from the internet were unacceptable and the British Consulate’s phone service indicated long wait times for visa due to a “technical fault”. When I sent in the application, on a Friday, I chose Express Mail, and only after paying for the service was I informed that the package would arrive on Saturday, by noon.

Saturday? It can’t arrive on Saturday! It’s a Consulate! No one will be there! Then, when realizing we’d done something wrong (bank statements), I decided that our only hope was for no one at the consulate to pick it up until Wednesday, at which time it would be returned to me. Many tense trackings later, I discovered Tuesday that it had been signed for at noon the day before. Despair. Oh my god, what if the visa person is having a bad day? Will they deny it out right or actually call me and ask me to addend my application with the correct paperwork? A great flurry of anxiety was born, twin columns on either side of the Atlantic until sleep extinguished them.

Wednesday morning, an email! Our application has been approved and the visa issued! What? How can that be? Can we believe it? It seemed a little anticlimactic, considering the froth of fear we had whipped up. But who knows when it will actually be sent to me. It could take days, it could take…no, there’s no way it could possibly take weeks.

Thursday morning, a phone call! UPS has a package that must be signed for, please be available to receive it. Raptures! Could it be my visa? A quick enumeration of various items I have recently ordered shows there to be none which would require a signature or be forthcoming. It must be my visa! Waiting, waiting, waiting, yet another drive to JoAnn’s Fabrics (what seems like the 10th trip in the past week), look up whenever a large vehicle’s engine is heard, cut fabric, mark fabric, sew fabric (wedding dress, you know), and then….

And then! The big brown truck! I fly out of the house and hop around in front of the delivery person. “Is that from Chicago?” “Let’s see, no…Tampa.” “Oh no!” “No, I’m kidding, it’s from the British Consulate? You were just so excited I couldn’t help myself.” “I’M GETTING MARRIED! That’s my visa!” “Ohhh, congratulations!”

Sign, run, rip, out falls paperwork and wonder of wonders, my passport. With my visa inside. It says Marriage/CP. No work or recourse to public funds. Entry Clearance!

I cannot credit how fast it all happened. I hardly believe I have it and must look at it now and again, gazing in wonderment at the slip of embossed paper pasted into the most valuable booklet I now own.

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Lately I’m whining about how hot it is, I feel like I’m melting and it’s one third of the way through November. I know I’m just being a wimp, especially after weathering supra-106 F temperatures in northern California. You want to know what it’s like to be cooked, that’s where you’ll find out. NYC and FL have nothing on those temperatures!

I didn’t manage to get more than about 15 stitches done on my cowl out west so this afternoon my grandma and I are going to this big house where a lady has offered space free of charge for people to complete craft projects. I hear tell there will be knitters present and I will be attempting to learn a different technique, in order that I may at least finish this first project and think towards the likelihood of starting a second. I suspect that I will finish this row (knit, slip, knit, slip, … swap!) and then switch to one plain old stitch so I don’t have to count. It’s too much for my brain at this early stage.

Mom and I have been making…well, let’s take a step back. A lot has changed, again. Two and a half months ago I thought I was back Stateside for good but just didn’t give the situation long enough to play out. At the end of this week I send in my visa application to the British Consulate in Chicago. I have a vintage pattern for a wedding dress, I have beautiful blue silk taffeta for a wedding dress, and my mom and I are sewing up a storm.

For those uninitiated into the ways of vintage patterns (*holds up hand*) they are MUCH more detailed than modern ones. I have never seen so many pressings, so many measurings, so many ripping-outs of details than I have with this dress. Which is why I’m glad Mom was too scared to cut into silk without first doing a mock up. Then, there is the why of my conviction, every time I get near a sewing machine, that clothes will just come spewing out of it wholly made. We have a number of items of clothing to complete. I’m only sure we’ll finish the mock-up and wedding dress but desperately want to finish at least one of the skirts as well before I am allowed to return to England (please, please let me come back!) and everything else will be finished and posted within months.

Kept hearing this song out in CA, thought it sounded like Metric, heard it on the radio here and looked it up to verify. It is. Guess they’ve really made it now.

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