This year, Migrants Organise turned 30 – and what a year it has been. Migrant, refugee, and racialised communities in Britain are facing increasingly hostile conditions – with a far-right Government pushing through policies like the Rwanda Plan, expanding the hostile environment and criminalising our communities, whilst pitting workers against each other – alongside the relentless scapegoating of migrants in the media.
Through these challenges, our communities have risen to face them, to resist together and to look after each other. We are so proud of the ways the movement for migrant justice continues to build power to fight against the hostility and violence of borders, and build communities of care and resistance together.
In this context we’ve developed resources and programmes to build grassroots solidarity; supported hundreds of individuals to build connections and claim their rights; trained powerful networks of volunteers, and developed holistic activities and buddying programmes to welcome people who have moved into our neighbourhoods. We are so grateful to everyone we have worked with, to all who have supported us, and particularly to our members who guide our work.
Here is a snapshot of just some of the work we have done together in 2023…!
Direct Support & Advice To Our Members
Through our Community Programme, we currently provide support, advice, training and mentoring to 700 individuals and their families each year, to address complex challenges. We worked to address the harm caused through the asylum and immigration system and broader hostile environment; from a lack of legal aid, inadequate housing, to isolation and trauma. In our commitment to developing quality and informed case work support, we provided training to two Trainee Caseworkers – thank you to Lisa and Son who joined the team as Trainee Caseworkers over the past year!
Holistic and Community Activities
Our members’ holistic and joyful Activity Programme was bigger than ever, our weekly activities included: Storytelling and Movement, Games, Poetry, Creative Writing Sewing, Gardening, Women’s Group, Walking Groups, Art and Chat, Drumming, Film Club, Football and English Classes. The activity programme grew so much that we created a new role – Activities Coordinator – and welcomed Justine to the team!
We ran our third ever Resilience Festival from 13th June until 15th July, to coincide with Refugee Week. The festival included a 10km walk across London, music, gardening, art, jewellery making, mindfulness, storytelling, fun days and picnics. These activities build on our weekly group activities that continuously run as part of our Community Programme. The joy of sharing space, activities, food and music with our community is a reminder of the better world we are building together. One of our members, I.K., wrote about the Resilience Festival here.
Migrants Mental Capacity Advocacy Project
Our Migrants Mental Capacity Advocacy Project, seeks to build expertise and capacity to meet the needs of people with severe mental health issues. In 2023 we trained litigation friends to provide expert volunteer support to our members and resourced the sector and movement with guides, toolkits, articles and podcast!
Solidarity Knows No Borders (SKNB)
In September, we brought together more than 120 migrant community organisers and our allies for the SKNB Summit, to build and nourish our movement of resistance and care, to connect our struggles and campaigns, and to imagine the world we want to win together. Over two days, we ate delicious food, mapped our struggles and the issues our communities are facing, participated in workshops on themes from climate justice to workplace rights, science fiction writing and embodied leadership and much more, and held space for intentional one-to-one organising conversations, walks together, dancing, time for joy and collective care. We are looking forward to the next one… watch this space!
Yorkshire Solidarity Summit
We worked to strengthen the infrastructure of local organisers in different parts of the country and in In April, over 120 migrant justice community campaigners and allies co-organised the Solidarity Knows No Borders Yorkshire Summit in Sheffield. The Solidarity Summit was a commitment to working together at the grassroots in Yorkshire to build resilience in our communities as well as a shared commitment to imagine better futures for all, and participants at the Summit were involved in over 50 campaigns.
Stand Up Speak Out Training Series
Alongside the SKNB political education working group, including PAFRAS and Social Workers Without Borders, we ran the Stand Up! Speak Out! Training series, comprising 24 sessions, delivered by 23 organisations designed to give public sector workers up-to-date knowledge of the rapidly changing immigration policy context and the implications for their work. Over 1000 people joined the sessions – watch the series here.
Our organising work to end the invasive surveillance of the immigration bail regime bloomed this year, as the Abolish Reporting campaign grew in size and strength. In addition to starting a monthly solidarity presence at Lunar House immigration reporting centre with newly developed signposting resources, we honed in on raising public awareness and pressure around the funnelling of public funds to private outsourcing firm Capita — who deliver the Home Office’s inhumane GPS ankle-tagging scheme. We connected with local authorities using our new toolkit and we asked councillors to help uproot the hostile environment from our communities.. Through stalls, speeches, gigs, and exhibitions we joined forces with other local campaign groups to spread the word about GPS tagging to the wider public; with partner organisations, we developed longer-term plans for collaboration and asked the public to act with us. And through actions like crashing Capita’s AGM, we made clear that surveillance will never be normalised.
Housing Action Group
Members of Migrants Organise Housing Action Group started the year with an exhibition, ‘Home Bitter Home’ highlighting the role that private companies such as Clearsprings Ltd play in profiting from keeping people living in miserable conditions — and we took action to win repairs in Tower Hamlets! We also joined with disability justice organisations to take our demands to Clearsprings HQ in Essex as they announced record profits of £62 million. Join our members’ fight for dignity in housing and write to Clearsprings here.
Bibby Stockholm Barge
The Bibby Stockholm will never be a safe place to house people! That’s why this year, we challenged the Government in its use of dehumanising and unsafe accommodation. Using our legal expertise and networks we blocked the transfer of people onto the Bibby Stockholm Barge. Alongside a community of legal professionals and organisers we equipped migrant and refugee rights organisations with resources and toolkits to strategies and support people threatened to be moved onto the barge. We won’t rest until the Bibby Barge and all other detention sites are closed.
Access to Justice
We welcomed our new Organiser, Frances, who is joining us to work on fighting for better access to justice for migrant communities. The compounding of cuts to legal aid, Hostile Environment policies and increasingly complex and draconian immigration laws having come into place in recent years means it’s become harder and harder for migrants to get legal advice and representation. The resulting legal aid crisis is impacting migrant communities and legal workers alike and has become untenable. Migrants Organise has set up an organising group with legal representatives, advice charities and frontline community organisations to build power and take collection action on resisting the legal aid crisis. Watch this space for more news and actions in 2024!
Patients Not Passports
Alongside our partners at Medact, we joined forces with campaigners, health workers and patients to fight back against borders in healthcare and the privatisation of the NHS: we showed up at picket lines of striking health workers to run teach-outs about how to resist the Hostile Environment in public services, organised a joint statement between migrant organisations and major trade unions against the hiking of visa fees, and joined thousands on the streets with our No Borders in the NHS bloc on the SOS NHS demonstration in March. Come to the next PNP New Joiners meeting in January to get involved!
Justice for Omisha
The Justice for Omisha campaign publicly launched to fight against 4-year-old Omisha’s £76,000 NHS bill for her cancer treatment – and within just a few months of the campaign, the hospital agreed that they would stop pursuing the debt. Her mum, Reeja, who is leading the campaign, has written more for our blog about the power of organising, and why their campaign continues here.
Climate Justice and Migrant Justice
We have started to focus on the intersection of climate and migrant justice, organising around the principles of the ‘right to stay’ – to defend communities from the impacts of climate change, and the ‘right to move’ – safely and with dignity, when staying is not possible or desirable. We co-produced the ‘Dangerous Narratives’ briefing on climate migration alongside other resources, co-hosted two roundtables bringing together groups from the migrant and climate justice sectors, and supported SKNB members to take part in an online public meeting attended by more than 300 people.
Challenging racist media narratives
We took legal action against Talk TV and its host, and received an apology and substantial damages from them, following defamatory accusations about us and our work. This victory was for the people behind the demonising headlines — people who have no representation, people who are scapegoated and dehumanised.
See you in 2024!
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us and acted with us; our incredible staff team, trustees, volunteers, supporters and wider movement. Above all, thank you to our members, whose resilience and courage is a source of hope for all of us.
We look forward to continuing to organise together for dignity and justice, for a world free from the violence and racism of borders, where we all can flourish and thrive. See you in 2024.
La lucha continua!