Speaking for Ourselves

Beyond Counting: how migrants make Britain better

Beyond Counting: how migrants make Britain better


 Migrant Voice - Beyond Counting: how migrants make Britain better


With the release of today’s immigration statistics the way in which migrants are talked about in the UK are once more put at the forefront of the debate, a debate which routinely ignores the voices of those most affected by it.

It is deplorable to see such a toxic narrative on migration in which so few media outlets or politicians challenge or even question the assumption that migration is bad for Britain, despite all the evidence to the contrary. 

Migrants aren't statistics, they aren't numbers on a spreadsheet. They are our friends, our family, our colleagues and our community. They are the doctors and nurses staffing or NHS. They are people we turn to when we need help. They are the people we talk to in the street. This government has made a point of removing their voices from this "debate", but how do you even start to discuss people's lives without listening to their experiences, their hopes, their fears.

The public is facing a cost-of-living crisis, an underfunded NHS and many other issues which are devastating communities. Migrants did not create these crises though and must not be scapegoated for them.

What today’s figures really show is that Britain is still a country where people feel they can study and build lives. That is something to be celebrated, despite the discriminatory rhetoric around where people come from, how they arrive, or numbers in the statistics.

These figures will be used by those against immigration as an argument. We have already seen the types of hostile rhetoric used against migrants, and the weaponization of immigration as a political tool, across party divides. Yet statistics do not tell the whole story. They do not show the lives of the students coming to this country to learn, and the links this builds globally.  Statistics do not show how people fleeing war and persecution see Britain as a safe harbour in the turbulent seas which they have lived through. They do not show the immense contributions migrants make to our society, our economy and our lives. 

We speak to those affected by these issues. We speak to the asylum seekers demonised by harsher policies who have been forced into irregular journeys “because I was forced to. I had no alternative”. We have seen those who call plans to detain and deport people seeking refuge “brutal and inhumane”. We have seen the impact of the policies already in place. None of these policies reflect the reasons people come here. As one asylum seeker told us “Everyone leaves their country for a reason. If they are seeking protection they should have the right to seek it”.

Today’s statistics are only one tiny part of a larger picture. The numbers are meaningless unless they are put into context. That context, that bigger picture, is the way in which migrants benefit this country and the lives they lead while doing so.

Photo credit: TechPhotoGal, Pixabay

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

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