14th June 2019
Paragon Music is leading a campaign appealing to the Home Office to reverse their decision to reject 2 young blind musicians from entering the UK on a cultural exchange.
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As part of the UK / India cultural exchange programme set up by the UK government in 2017, and with funding from the British Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government, Paragon was due to host a group of musicians from Chennai-based disability organisation Devasitham Charitable Foundation (DCF).
The two week programme included workshops, seminars, performances, meetings and cultural visits to develop the knowledge and skills learned when Paragon trained DCF staff in Chennai in 2017 as part of an ongoing cultural partnership.
The group were due to arrive on Saturday 15th June, however, two of the disabled musicians had their visas refused by the Home Office due to economic and family circumstances, describing its reasoning as follows: “I am not satisfied that you have sufficient ties in India that will act as an incentive for you to leave the UK at the end of your trip”. Their non disabled colleagues who were supporting them, on the other hand, were granted entry.
The cultural exchange programme was designed specifically by Paragon to address the barriers faced by disabled people when trying to participate in cultural activities. Its mission to provide a platform for people disabled by disability or disadvantage mean that the views and experiences of those people that have been refused entry to the UK were absolutely crucial to the success of the two week programme. It has now had to be cancelled.
Paragon Music are appealing vigorously for this decision by the Home Office to be overturned and to make sure that the exchange can go ahead later in the year.
“This has taken months to organise and within the space of a few days has cost the charity thousands of pounds in travel, accommodation, venue hire and cancellation fees which cannot now be recovered.” (Ninian Perry, Creative Director of Paragon Music)
Paragon Music is currently awaiting news regarding the status of the refused visa applications from the British Council who are working to overturn the decision.
To help Paragon reverse this decision and allow these musicians to travel to Scotland please use your knowledge, expertise and contacts to share this far and wide, especially with your local MP.
Please contact us for more information:
T: 0141 354 0234
Scottish Charity No. SC009006