MRCF Launches Report on Earned Citizenship and Volunteering

Migrants  and refugees hardly ever get to have a say on any policy that directly affects them. And so was the case last year when the UK Borders Agency decided to ‘consult’ on the policy that citizenship should be earned, or waiting time for settlement status shortened if new applicants volunteer.  MRCF and a few other grassroots migrant and refugee groups had to muscle their way into the government consultation meeting.  Once inside the meeting it soon became clear that no one in the government has any idea how the policy would work in practice, how much it would cost to administer and what the equalities implications would be for carers, the disabled, the elderly and families. It also became clear that no one in the government has the slightest idea about the voluntary work already done by new citizens, not because they have to but because they want to.

The scary part of all of this is that the entire policy was introduced as a knee jerk reaction to populist misconceptions about immigration policy. The then Prime Minister needed to sound tough on immigrants, so in addition to the points system, in addition to huge fees and in addition to incompetent bureaucracy that can hold migrants and refugees back from integrating for years, he announced that foreigners should  do compulsory civic service to demonstrate that they belong here. Like one of our members from the Ukraine said – this reminds me of the Soviet Union.

More shockingly, it became clear that the government is completely clueless about the negative effect this policy might have on integration and social cohesion.  Migrants and refugees already scapegoated and  perceived as public enemy No 1, will now be perceived as cynically exploiting  and abusing ‘our’ volunteering opportunities for personal gain.

In conversation with our members, many of them community volunteers themselves, we at the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum  realised we had to do something and so we teamed up with the Migrant Rights’ Network. Together we did what the government should have done a long time ago. We asked the experts – migrant, refugee and British volunteers what they think about these proposals. And this report is their verdict on earned, active, probationary and compulsory volunteering for citizenship.  In our report Should Citizenship Be Earned Through Compulsory Volunteering? Migrant and Refugee Voices on Volunteering for Citizenship Policy you will also find all you need to know about the government’s proposals and a summary of  existing research about migrants and volunteering around Europe. All the volunteers we spoke to, migrants and British alike, had one clear message for the government on this policy – just drop it! Why? Because it is unworkable, expensive, discriminatory, unnecessary and damaging to volunteering,  to migrants  and to our society.

We are asking you to read this report, listen to what we have to say and act to help us bring about positive change.  It is time to think about and act on immigration responsibly. We can no longer afford gimmicks that are aimed at pleasing people with prejudices or perceptions based on misinformation. To read full report please download pdf. copy here:  Should Citizenship Be Earned Through Compulsory Volunteering? Migrant and Refugee Voices on Volunteering for Citizenship Policy.

0 thoughts on “MRCF Launches Report on Earned Citizenship and Volunteering

  • Many people are ready to work and /or volunteer but have sometimes been plucked out from their jobs and asked to be reporting at the police stations or Home Office for months and sometimes years as the government pay their rent, bills food etc. Some of them had lived legally in the UK for several years but suddenly due to some technicalities, they are pulled out of work and have depend on the government (if they are lucky) and become frustrated and de-skilled in the process. They are not criminals, they end up living in the UK for many years in this state of limbo, only to be granted Indefinate or Discretionary Leave to Remain after so much suffering and waste of public funds. They should be allowed to work in order to pay taxes and their own upkeep as their immigration status is being sorted. In some of these cases, one really has to ask whether the law is set in stone; was the law made for man/woman or was man made for the law!!

  • Cynthia Dize says:

    Time spent volunteering is freely given – that’s the very essence of the contribution and that’s why it is so valued by the people who are helped. Attracting new arrivals to our volunteering ranks isn’t difficult – as a VIO (volunteer involving organisation) we just need to make sure we get the message out that the doors are open. We’re very grateful to all our volunteers and full of admiration for their desire to make a difference to their neighbourhoods, whether as new arrivals or long-standing residents.

  • Marissa Begonia (Justice for Domestic Workers) says:

    Earned Citizenship? Recognize the contribution of Domestic Workers with this so called “Big Society” and this big society is made up of families. Domestic Workers are the carers of Children, elderly and households, how can the people of this BIG SOCIETY go to work without domestic workers looking after their families that are the building blocks of every nation? Majority of the Governments of the world recognized and valued the contribution of Domestic workers to the World’s economy and to the Society in the recent International Labour Conference – Decent Work for Domestic Workers with the adoption of the ILO Convention supplemented by Recommendation and among these Governments is our very own United Kingdom.
    Volunteering to earned ctitzenship? When Domestic workers escaped from abusive employers, they become homeless, no clothes, employers took their passports, no money to buy food (they worked without salary and no day off at all), no money for travelling allowance and totally they lost everything, Justice for Domestic Workers (J4DW) members help contribute £1.00 each month so that we can provide these basic needs (food, shelter, cothes and travelling allowance to find new jobs) of our fellow domestic workers in need and displaced. We help save and rebuild the life of our fellow domestic workers out of our little time and small salaries, We are doing this Voluntary, How can anyone not recognized us as volunteers and contributors of this “BIG SOCIETY”? I just wonder how big is the society we have, because the next question I would like to ask is, “How much time do we have if all of this volunteering we have been doing is not enough?” Majority of us Domestic Workers work from 16 hours – 24 hours a day, many have no day off, do we have social life? Do we have time for our own families? The answer of course is NONE, How can we do another voluntary work? I just want to reach out this message to everybody, ” You maybe White, they maybe black and we maybe brown, that’s what make this country beautiful and that’s what make the economy attractive”.

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