migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

we need to speak out

we need to speak out

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - we need to speak out

The European referendum has got Britain talking. But our European members feel they have been left out of the debate - even as their future hangs in the balance.

At our meetings in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, Europeans living and working in the UK told us that migrants are being reduced to economic figures rather than contributors with individual lives and stories.

There are not enough stories of the day to day lives of Europeans in the UK in the national press, or the fact that migrants are often aspirational and ambitious.

X said: “The debate is lacking the migrant voices. We who cannot vote are not being heard in the debate. We need to do more to speak out.”

As the subject of  immigration has dominated the media over the past few months, migrants have felt demonised by some of the negative campaigning around freedom of movement of EU citizens.

Even those who are now married to a UK citizen or have citizenship felt that the negative debate was impacting on their feeling on belonging

“It is difficult to be told all the time to be not good enough to stay. So if UK voted to leave I would probably leave, it would become too difficult to stay.”

Migrant Voice was founded because we believe migrants need to have more of a say within the debate about migration into the UK.

M, a French filmmaker, told us:

“I feel very European and feel very emotional about having lived here over 20 years but maybe having to leave. It touches on the way I live my life day to day. Above all I am connected to Europe all the time.”

Of course our members do not think that the European Union as a political organisation is perfect. Just like British citizens they raise concerns about bureaucracy and corruption.

But F, a refugee from the Horn of Africa, gave an interesting perspective, drawing on his experience of living in a part of the world which has seen years of conflict :

“We must remember how the EU was set up to create peace” F sees the European Union as a model that he wished existed in Africa and feels sad to see such a good model for peace being potentially dismantled.

The most common worry among our members is the fear that if the UK votes to leave, Europeans will have to return to their ‘home’ countries. What happens to Europeans who have British children?

In Birmingham people spoke of their journeys to the UK, of using their time, money and knowledge to invest in the UK but feeling that now all their plans are at a standstill because there is no information on how to plan the next few years.

Above all, Europeans who have made their lives in the UK wish they could vote in this referendum. But as they can’t - we hope British people will listen to what Europeans have to say when they decide which way to vote.

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MV as an organisation does not have a position on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, but we strongly believe that those affected by the referendum should have their voice heard.