Great news for Chagossians in Crawley as an advice centre has opened to help out with some of the many practical challenges faced during day-to-day life in exile. Chagossians who need help with issues including housing, translation, immigration and simply looking for work can can now visit The Pinnacle, Central Court, Station Way, 3rd Floor, Crawley RH10 1JH (near the train station)between 9AM and 3PM Monday to Saturday for free advice.
The office will be jointly run by the leaders of two Chagossian groups, Sabrina Jean of Chagos Refugee Group UK Branch (CRG UK) and Allen Vincatassin of the Diego Garcia Island Council (DGIC).
Each group will run the office the group on different days, with CRG UK there Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The DGIC will run the office Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. To contact CRG UK at the office you can ring 01293763043 and to call DGIC you can ring 01293763042.
Sabrina Jean, Chairperson of CRG UK, spoke positively about how the opening of the office would impact upon the Chagossian community, saying “We are already in the office helping members of the community with many different problems everyday. Many Chagossians have serious problems in Crawley with visa issues, access to housing and trouble finding jobs. Our advice is free and available to all Chagossians.”
The centre will funded by the administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory, the official UK name for the Chagos Islands. This commitment from a department of the UK Government to offer real support to Chagossians is a welcome move and hopefully it is just the beginning of delivering long-denied justice to Chagossians.
Crawley MP and Vice-Chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Henry Smith also welcomed the announcement, whilst emphasising his continuing commitment to winning the right to return, commenting that “I’m proud that Crawley has the largest Chagos island community in the world. Whilst we campaign for the right of return I’m pleased that the British Indian Ocean Territory has funded an office in the town to support the community.”