Build Common Ground

mobilsemainIn 2015, before the General Election, Migrants Organise worked with community organisations from across the world – Latin Americans, who felt invisible and underrepresented; Kenyans in West London, anxious about the opportunities for their young people; East and North African women, struggling to empower themselves following domestic violence and isolation; Ukrainians who were trying to support friends and family as conflict unfolded at home; domestic workers who were organising in the few hours they had spare on a Sunday – and many more. These diverse groups had diverse interests. Yet, we brought them together and we found common ground: shared experiences of powerlessness, xenophobia and hostility from the press and government, and tireless, thankless organising within communities. We knew that the 2015 election could change our situation, if we organised together. Some communities – Polish and Latin American – had been registering their members to vote to ensure they were a visible, powerful forces in the election. They taught other groups the lessons they had learnt. Collectively, we registered thousands of people to vote.

We knew that our power as voters was with our MPs. We supported migrant community groups in each constituency to meet, plan and organise together. Migrant groups came around the same table to meet with prospective parliamentary candidates and organise hustings. In meetings, community leaders secured concrete commitments on issues that mattered to their communities, a recognition of their power and relationship with their elected representative. More importantly, they began to understand what connected them to other migrant communities in the same area – sometimes shared challenges around buildings; sometimes shared frustrations about working with the local authority; sometimes shared anxiety about a particular local issue – gang violence, housing, racism. In every area, one issue connected migrant communities and brought each group allies in their struggles. From diverse starting points these groups have gone on to build alliances of strength in their local areas. Now, they act together for change and organise from a position of strength.

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