Congratulations Haringey Welcome!

15 February 2019
Zrinka Bralo

It is almost a year since we celebrated the launch of the Haringey Welcome Pledge with our friends and colleagues in North London borough.

We talked to journalists to help spread the word about this new way of organising by people who believe in welcome:

“In autumn 2016, a group of residents in north London won a protracted battle against a local authority to have ten vulnerable Syrian families resettled in their borough. The fight was particularly drawn out: Haringey Council is notorious for showing migrants little sympathy or respect, with the Children’s Services department known for abetting immigration enforcement and regularly threatening to separate families facing destitution instead of housing them together. But aside from this, the initiative was unremarkable. At the height of the refugee crisis, shortly after the tragic, graphic photograph of drowned Kurdish toddler Alan Kurdi made the front page of every major British newspaper, ‘Welcome’ campaigns up and down the country were pushing for the same thing.

Eighteen months later, Haringey Welcome has lost the word ‘refugees’ from its name and relaunched as something altogether more interesting. While other campaigns dissolved or moved on to providing humanitarian aid to resettled families, the residents group made a conscious decision not to trade in the power it had discovered to hold local politicians to account in exchange for charity status or funding.

Instead Haringey Welcome has taken inspiration from the sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce Donald Trump’s racist immigration laws in the US. Working in collaboration with local and national migrants’ rights groups, the residents organisation is attempting to replicate a meaningful version of the US model here for the first time. Since it officially launched in this new capacity in February, Haringey Welcome has been publicly lobbying the council to oppose and challenge Theresa May’s hostile environment policies and to make their borough safe for all migrants.

We spent the summer meeting local councillors and discussing with them how can the Welcome Pledge become reality in Haringey and at the end of 2018 Haringey Council passed the motion of Welcome!

Congratulations to all in Haringey – and watch this space – the welcome strategy is on its way!

The Council believes:

  • That all residents, including those who have lived long-term in the borough as well as newly arrived immigrants, should be treated with dignity and respect.
  • That welcome, not hostility, should be the spirit driving the Council’s approach to service delivery and to working with all residents, particularly vulnerable refugees and migrants.
  • That the debate on immigration should be conducted with care for the dignity of people who are vulnerable, who do not have a voice in the public domain and who have to suffer the consequences of inaccurate and inflammatory language.
  • That everybody should be treated justly and fairly and not forced into destitution or left without basic protections.
  • That together with local civil society we must ensure that good processes are in place to enable integration and inclusion, so that Haringey is a truly welcoming borough to all its residents.
  • That ‘Hostile Environment’ policies are unjust and have no place in our society.

The Council resolves:

  • That the beliefs listed above should guide the Council’s interactions with refugees and migrants
  • To do all in its power to protect the vulnerable from destitution and to prevent extreme hardship
  • To immediately undertake a comprehensive audit of its relationship with the Home Office and immigration enforcement, and an assessment of its current practices and the impact of the Hostile Environment policy on inclusion, equality and cohesion in the borough
  • To prioritise welcome, integration and inclusion within the forthcoming Borough Plan
  • To work with other local authorities to make regular representations to the Government demanding that they end the ‘Hostile Environment’
  • In the coming months to develop and implement a ‘Welcome Strategy’ detailing policy and practice guidelines to ensure best practice in integration and inclusion within the borough and protection and support for Haringey residents targeted by the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy.

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