Speaking for Ourselves

Looking ahead: Our plans for the new year

Looking ahead: Our plans for the new year


 Migrant Voice - Looking ahead: Our plans for the new year

Last year ended on a distressing note, with the grotesque plan to despatch several hundred people seeking asylum in Britain to a small, poor country in Central Africa still to be decided by the courts (though the High Court ruled that the Government’s selection of the first consignment of people to be airfreighted out of UK had been conducted improperly).

Looking ahead, even darker clouds are gathering as political upheavals around the world - not least in Ukraine – lead to further large-scale movements of people fleeing conflict and persecution. Beyond that lies the rapidly rising impact of global heating, which is already causing migration within countries and will inevitably spread across borders and seas.

It would be easy to despair in the face of such negative attitudes, and of politicians whose only response is to attempt to hide from reality by whipping up fear and indignation against people from other countries. But to despair would be to betray those seeking our help and protection and those seeking better lives and building a better, fairer, more humane world.

Thousands of people in this country are taking action in this cause, and Migrant Voice is proud to be part of that movement. No single solution or activity can deal with all the problems facing migrants in this country but we will continue our efforts on a variety of fronts with a common ingredient: a focus on making migrant voices heard.

For example, our forthcoming conference, “A better deal for migrants: Campaigning for a fairer visa and settlement process”, will bring together migrants, campaigners and policymakers to look at how we can build a visa system that works for migrants. The meeting is part of our campaign against extortionate, life-wrecking visa fees.

Learning that stays on the shelves won’t change lives. So in another of our programmes this year we will share with leaders of migrant communities the knowledge and experience we have gained through working closely with the media for more than a decade. Our aims are to improve both representation of migrants and policies affecting them.

In 2023 we will continue our programme of workshops, campaigns and other sessions for migrants and carry on our work with the Status Now Network, which presses for legal status for all migrants. We will continue supporting the international students wrongly accused of cheating their English tests as many continue to win their cases and clear their names. And we are linking up with Show Racism the Red Card, IMIX on a new project funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), which will use sports as a tool to challenge common misconceptions and change the narrative on migration.

Areas such as sport are rarely seen as “migration issues” but migration affects every aspect of life. Sports and the arts can influence public opinion - a key element in changing attitudes and policies: in Glasgow we will launch an exhibition of migrant portraits and stories at the Kelvingrove Museum as part of our Putting Ourselves in the Picture project.

These and other activities require funding, planning and implementation. Sometimes, however, we have to respond rapidly to urgent crises, adapting quickly as new circumstances come to light.

That’s why we are working with asylum seekers currently housed in hotels, with the aim of publicising their often appalling conditions (our research has uncovered children going without shoes and 11 adults sharing a room, with no access to classes, activities or advice), improving their desperate circumstances, and giving them a voice with which they can advocate for their rights.

A report on the conditions in which asylum seekers are accommodated will be published later this year. The word “hotel” conjures images of comfort and warmth: the reality is starker and is another example of the way particular words and language in general are used to mislead public sentiment and demonise migrants.

This is just a brief summary of our work, which Migrant Voice member Livia Barreira recently summed up when she talked about her experience of campaigning for justice: “I won’t be silenced, I will keep speaking up, and I hope more people will do the same after me.”

We celebrate Livia and all our members who refuse to be silenced, and invite everyone to join us in our work for a fairer world.

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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