Speaking for Ourselves

Glasgow network meeting sees MV members meet in-person for first time in two years

Glasgow network meeting sees MV members meet in-person for first time in two years

Cryton Chikoko

 Migrant Voice - Glasgow network meeting sees MV members meet in-person for first time in two years


Last week, we hosted a very powerful and successful in-person network meeting in Glasgow.

The gathering brought together more than 30 migrants from many countries, backgrounds and individuals sympathetic to migrants’ rights. It was our first-in-person networking event in two years. The strong desire from different organisations to work together in solidarity with migrants' rights was very clear during the meeting. 


Such a great event with @MigrantVoiceUK in Glasgow, hearing about thought-provoking and heart breaking stories from Migrant stories living in Scotland. @ESAScotland https://t.co/SLfGzfibfQ

— @__xteynteyn November 23, 2021


Throughout the meeting, we heard some powerful contributions and stories. Here are some of them:


Filipino healthcare workers compelled to work on Covid wards  

Mara Sese, a Filipino healthcare professional highlighted the contributions of Filipinos working in the UK. In a moving testimony, we heard of passionate and caring migrant Filipinos who overwhelmingly work in the healthcare sector. These migrants provide the UK with nurses, doctors, and people who take care of our elderly, but most of their income is used up to pay for the government's extortionate visa fees. We heard many of these selfless people were not allowed to claim benefits, even when they fell on hard times even in the lockdown. “Many of our people were compelled to work in the Covid wards. Many who caught the virus died. Many currently suffer from long Covid,” Sese told the gathering. 


The effect of Brexit on EU citizens

Miro Cuba, an activist and artist, spoke of the effect of Brexit on EU citizens. He bemoaned “the sudden loss of rights and the rough realisation” of the UK's nonsensical, illogical immigration policies. While it is easy for British artists to visit Europe, the UK is making it very difficult for EU artists to visit the UK. Cuba said many EU citizens were left in limbo because of lockdowns and the Brexit process. As many offices were closed during the pandemic, new EU arrivals could not apply for National Insurance Numbers, hence they could not find employment nor claim benefits. They suffered immensely. 


Asylum seekers isolated, harassed and attacked

Ako Zada, a campaigner for refugees’ rights, spoke of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. He discussed the unimaginable suffering many of them endured in the lockdown. Many asylum seekers failed to access healthcare. He told the guests the consequences of asylum seekers having no choice of where to live. In the lockdown, some were housed in locations where residents were not used to seeing migrants. They were hated. Many were housed in rundown hotels. "Racism has grown within the city. We have seen many asylum seekers isolated, harassed and attacked," a visibly distressed Zada said. 


The East and Southeast Asians and the Vietnamese community

Kimi Jolly, the founder of East and Southeast Asian Scotland, talked about East and Southeast Asians, including the Vietnamese community. "There is little understanding of a diverse profile of the East and Southeast Asian community in Scotland”. The needs and languages of these people are different. However, people in Scotland and the data held by the Government bundle them all into the 'other group' category. The homogenized picture of East and Southeast Asians in Scotland masks a specific understanding of them and detracts from effective interventions. Among other examples, she singled out the interpretation services that leave out most people from her community who fail to access services. We were told of a 72% increase in hate crimes that targeted East and Southeast Asians in the pandemic.


Migrants’ rights in Scotland

We heard of a project on migrants’ rights for the new Scottish Human Rights Bill from Mhairi Snowden, director of Human Rights Consortium Scotland. The study gathered views of migrants and migrant-related organisations on proposals for a new Bill that will incorporate four international human rights treaties directly into Scottish law. The project's recommendations included that human rights need to be realised for everyone resident in Scotland, regardless of immigration status. This is something that Migrant Voice has advocated for many years for the whole UK.  


Other speakers and socials 

There were a number of contributions from guests including Fuad from the Azerbaijan community, others from Latin America, and Glaswegians. Guests also socialised while having food and listening to Kurdish and Arabic songs performed by Adnan Shamdin.

They soooo need a bigger audience https://t.co/bvcs4cykgK

— ChrisT (@ChrisThody) November 23, 2021


Glasgow Migrant Hub and other activities in Glasgow 

Our director Nazek Ramadan introduced Cryton Chikoko, the new Glasgow community researcher. His role essentially is to strengthen the presence of Migrant Voice in Glasgow. He will run a scoping exercise to explore issues affecting migrants and migrant-led organisations in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. The study will help Migrant Voice establish what migrant organisations are already doing in the area. The findings will inform Migrant Voice's activities in Glasgow. This will help ensure better collaboration among groups through referrals and partnership. 

Together with volunteers, Cryton will also manage a Migrant Hub where we aim to offer a safe space for migrants to come and speak to us about any issues affecting them, where they will connect to other migrants and make friends. At this Hub, they will also learn about their rights and how to challenge discrimination, as well as how to seek information or referrals from local services. On top of this, it will help them speak out and get stories in the media, and give them an overview of our activities and how to take part. We are happy to hear your ideas for the Hub and how we can collaborate. 

Our presence in Scotland is further strengthened by Simon Israel, a former senior home affairs correspondent for Channel 4 News and now Migrant Voice's Scotland media adviser. Israel's presence was a huge encouragement to us. He aims to build the confidence of the migrant community through our media labs.  In the coming weeks and months, through his support, we hope to get more migrants to tell their stories in the media. 


If you would like to send your ideas for our Glasgow Migrant Hub, please email our Glasgow community researcher Cryton Chikoko on [email protected]

Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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