Happy Black History Month 2015 day 4 Chrisann Jarett

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Chrisann Jarret is a Law student at the London School of Economics. She set up a campaign called ‘Let us Learn’ and was awarded a ‘Young Woman of the Year’ award earlier this year.

In summer 2013, having just scored top grades in her A levels and having been offered a place at the prestigious London School of Economics to study Law, Chrisann Jarrett, was suddenly hit with the reality that she wasn’t actually eligible for a student loan and therefore wouldn’t be able to take up her place.

Although she was born in Jamaica, Chrisann, had been living in the UK since the age of eight and was a legal resident, so the idea that she was not eligible for a student grant came as a huge shock. Unfortunately, changes to immigration rules introduced in 2011 meant that young people who have discretionary leave to remain in the UK, rather than indefinite leave, are not regarded as home students with access to loans. They have to pay significantly
higher international fees, sometimes almost double.

Heartbroken and forced to take a gap year, while she figured out her next move, Chrisann ended up doing an internship at a law firm. While there, she noticed there were a lot of other young people who had the same immigration issue. “All of us were afraid to speak out because of the whole stigma attached to immigration,” she says. “But I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to put myself out there’.”

She says: “At first I was ashamed of the situation. I looked at it like ‘Me? Having a problem with immigration, even though I have legal status?’ I remember going to an interview with a journalist and being asked to take my picture, and thinking: ‘I don’t want people in my borough knowing I’ve got this issue.’

“But it was the best thing I could have ever done as that’s what put the campaign on the map and got the ball rolling.

In January 2014, Chrisann founded the Let Us Learn campaign, which fights for policy change to the rules regarding student finance. It also seeks to raise awareness for young people who don’t realise that this could be an issue for them, for parents who don’t know where to get information, and to generally break down the stigma attached to the issue.

The campaign started off with just four young people working on it. Under Chrisann’s astute leadership, this has grown to 50.

In terms of impact, Let Us Learn has been instrumental in a Supreme Court case that will eventually lead to a change in the law. The court found that the blanket exclusionary rule preventing anyone except UK citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK from applying for student loans was disproportionate and could not be justified. The ruling will change the lives of thousands of young men and women.

Due to her campaign efforts, Chrisann was shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights award in 2014 and awarded the Young Woman of the Year award in early 2015. The latter was courtesy of Women on the Move Awards, which works with the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency).

Copy taken from The Future Leaders- The Power list.

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