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