Our polices and our public narrative are dominated by negative attitude towards migrants, refugees and minorities, creating an increasingly hostile environment policies. Over the past year this hostility has been introduced and normalised in public services such as NHS.
The assumptions that underline these hostile polices and practice of internal border controls is that immigrants are here unlawfully, that they are abusing the system, and that they should not come. The assumption is that the majority of British people agree with the hostile environment policy and that they hold negative and hostile attitudes towards immigrants.
As a result immigrants live in fear, shame, destitution, isolation, exploitation, poor health and experience discrimination and injustice. The Windrush Scandal that unfolded during 2018 has exposed the depth of institutional racism that is at heart of the hostile environment policy.
Political uncertainty, deepening of divisions over Brexit, and the rise of right-wing populism and fascism across the world, present the greatest challenge to democracy and human rights since the Second World War.
There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’.
There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.― Arundhati Roy
Even when we speak out, no one seems to be listening. Windrush Scandal, which has had intense media coverage, resulted in resignation of the Home Secretary, but the hostility towards people whose lives have been ruined did not stop.
People seeking protection are stuck in dysfunctional system that has made them destitute, isolated, depressed and stripped them of their skills as they are not allowed to work or access education. Indefinite immigration is routinely used without proper judicial oversight.
EU migrants are the latest to experience the impact of hostile environment as they deal with new demands to regularise their status after EU Referendum that create uncertainty and anxiety.
We believe migrant communities should have a stronger place at the negotiating table to create positive change. We know that in migrant and refugee communities, people are organising and doing incredible work in their neighbourhoods and regions to counteract hostile environment.
Through organising these communities become visible, connected and powerful.
If you are not around the table, bring a folding chair.― Shirley Chisholm
What are we acting for? In one word – INCLUSION
Migrants Organise’s vision is inclusive, fair and equal society which accepts that migration is a fact of life and it should be organised.
Our mission is to create a platform with migrants and refugees and our allies to act together for justice and dignity.
Our aim is to organise and mobilise migrants and refugees and our allies into a movement that will deliver that change.
We translate this vision, mission and aim into action by doing the work to:
Organising begins with the premise:
1) that the problems facing inner-city communities do not result from a lack of effective solutions, but from a lack of power to implement these solutions;
2) that the only way for communities to build long-term power is by organising people and money around a common vision; and
3) that a viable organisation can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership— and not one or two charismatic leaders—can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions.― Barack Obama
In order to increase the participation and inclusion of migrants and refugees in public life, as equal citizens regardless of their immigration status, we need to have a collective and coherent voice. We learned that it is not enough to have a voice if no one is listening. To be heard and to be recognised, we need to organise and grow our power – we need to build a movement.
Social movements challenge conditions and assumptions about people’s lives. In doing so, they strive to reshape certain core values widely accepted by the mainstream of society.
Because these core values influence the distribution of power; movements for social change must, ultimately, seek to change prevailing power dynamics by influencing the public discourse and public policy.
Fundamental to any movement is the active involvement of communities and residents directly affected by the current conditions.
Therefore, community organizing and mobilization must be a core strategy. However, grassroots engagement alone is not sufficient to create a movement or change. It must be complemented by data and research, advocacy, key allies, leadership, and, most of all, a common vision and strategy that can knit together different issues campaigns, goals, and leaders.
And a movement must be able to transcend and reach some type of movement infrastructure.― Masters and Osborne in 2010
We believe that the first step in organising is the development of the people who will do the organising. This is an organic, bottom-up, and long-term approach to leadership development and therefore social change. Organising methodology at its heart consists of a collaborative, action-oriented approach to common good that, we believe, is essential for a new meaningful framework for community participation.
We organise with people seeking asylum, refugees, programme refugees, EU migrants, un/underdocumented people, migrant students, migrant workers, settled BME communities, progressive supporters and allies. We strive to work ‘with’ and not ‘for’ our members. Our people – our members – migrants and refugees – are at the heart of our movement, from governance to strategic planning, from campaigning to advocacy, from organising to inclusion.
We start organising by sharing knowledge and skills as well as strategies and you can read more about that in the TRAINING section.
Since the launch of our Organising Programme we have worked in 27 cities and local authorities and have trained more than 200 migrant and refugee organisers who launched and joined numerous campaigns and actions for positive change.
Examples of our organising work can be found in the NEWS section of our website as well as in CAMPAIGNS.
To start organising with Migrants Organise, please contact one of our regional Migrant Organisers or our CEO, contact details can be found in ABOUT link on our website or if you prefer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about our approach to organising, please look at the report by our CEO, Zrinka Bralo produced for her Churchill Fellowship in 2014 which she spent studying migrant organising in the United States.