In an increasingly challenging migration environment underpinned by global political instability, protracted conflicts, increasing economic insecurity and a resurgence of nationalist sentiments across Europe, there is urgency for effective leadership in the migration sector. Such leadership needs to be reflective of contemporary realities of issues and societies whilst strategically focused on the bigger picture and long term challenges.
In the development of this leadership response, people with lived experience of migration play an integral part recognising and building on their experiences. This shift from being ‘recipients’ of leadership to ‘Givers’ of leadership would add significant value to leadership and service delivery experiences across the sector.
It is against this backdrop that Migrant Action hosted a Leadership Development consultative workshop in Leeds organised by Migration Exchange as part of a national consultation on Leadership and Development in the Migration sector. Workshop participants from the Refugee Council, Leeds City Council, HANA project-Hull, Migrants Organise, MERMEC and Migrant Action shared experiences (personal and organisational).
Participants recognising the value of good leadership in ensuring quality service delivery, growth and sustainability acknowledged that leadership development does not often constitute ‘investment priority’ for most organisations who are struggling with small budgets. Ever limited funds prioritise frontline service provision responding to client needs rather than staff leadership development. Therefore, funders have a role in shaping organisational cultures and attitudes towards leadership development.
Participants also reinforced concerns about the lack of diversity in leadership in the sector acknowledging that too many organisations in the sector have leadership and governance structures/personnel that do not reflect the communities they serve. They observed this trend reflected a wider structural problem of prejudice, discrimination and racism which is under serving people of lived experience of migration and other groups. This needs to be acknowledged within organisations and leadership take responsibility in systematically addressing it. There was also recognition that people of lived experience need to get better in mobilising and organising themselves in order to be able to influence and achieve the change they seek.
Finally, the model for delivering leadership development needs to fundamentally change. A real shift is required towards a more inclusive, nurturing, empowerment and sustainability-led model. At the heart of the new model must be a thriving partnership between migration and other sectors. Equally, a good partnership with migrant communities to identify, develop and embed good leadership.
Migrant Action will continue working with Migration Exchange on this consultation whilst continuing conversations with local partners.
As Brexit looms, the uncertainty about the rights of EU citizens in the UK looms even larger. This uncertainty is fuelling a crippling anxiety amongst EU citizens desperate for clarity and guidance to enable them prepare for life after Brexit. Such clarity and guidance was scarce at the event organised by Leeds City Council ‘Response to Brexit’ where authorities lamented by saying “we know as much as you do”.
The consequence of this uncertainty as a result of Brexit political impasse is manifested by the chaos and vulnerability of those whose life choices, livelihoods and futures are held captive by BREXIT. Migrant Action is witness to these manifestations through providing advice, guidance, advocacy and a range of other direct assistances to migrants in vulnerable circumstances including EU migrants. Migrant Action continues to work collaboratively with other agencies to facilitate access to the settlement scheme for EU citizens and other support packages.
Amidst the uncertainty about the eventualities of BREXIT, EU citizens are being urged to regularise the immigration status in the UK by applying under the new Home Office EU Settlement Scheme. The Scheme was opened initially since the beginning of March and will remain open until 30 June 2021. This guidance may change depending on the eventual outcome of the BREXIT Process. For more information about the scheme and application process see link below
Citizen Advice Immigration Information –https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/
If you encounter any problems or need to speak to Citizens Advice Bureau, see link below
Citizen Advice Leeds Contact Information https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/leeds/contact-us/?serialnumber=100673
Everyone at Migrant Action would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Lina (volunteer) for her amazing achievements of completing the half marathon and raising funds to help migrants who are in vulnerable and crisis situations. Thanks to Lina, Migrant Action will now set up a hardship fund- The Lina Solidarity Fundin recognition and appreciation of this wonderful gesture . All future crowd fundraising we undertake will go towards the Fund.
Read Lina’s short article below
In 10th March 2019 I completed my first ever half marathon after a challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable 1h55 run through the heart of the beautiful French capital. Battling icy winds and very tired legs, it was the thought of all my wonderful sponsors who donated to my chosen charity, Migrant Action, in my support that kept me going and pulled me through. I chose to fundraise for this migrant led organisation as it is very close to my heart and through my own experience volunteering there, have witnessed first-hand the incredible work they do to prevent vulnerability and assist migrants to find positive pathways to integration.
Joined by other 30,000 ambitious runners and in a team of 33 students from Leeds RAG (Raising and Giving) society, the 13-mile route took us past some of Paris’ most beautiful sights, including the Notre Dame, Bastille, Rue de Rivoli, Hôtel de Ville, and Château de Vincennes. I chose the Paris Half Marathon as my charity fundraiser as it is an incredible event and known to be a great first marathon due to its scenic route and vibrant atmosphere. I wanted to set myself a challenge that is worth supporting and use running to inspire charitable work and giving. I am beyond pleased with the result of my personal achievement but more importantly what the Leeds RAG Paris team achieved. I was able to raise a total of £320.00 for my chosen charity Migrant Action! Huge congratulations to the Leeds RAG Paris team, for raising a whooping £ 8000.00 which will go to 21 causes!
Since my eye-opening experience volunteering at a refugee camp in Germany, witnessing the sheer destitution, injustice and discrimination these people are exposed to every day, I have always been looking for ways to make a positive change to the lives of migrants and refugees. Inspired by lived experience of migration, Migrant Action’s work is not limited to providing practical assistances to migrants to help address the impact of immigration policies, the organization is equally committed to advocating for systemic changes in the UK immigration system. Migrant Action offers me the opportunity to make a positive contribution to people’s lives and have shared experiences. I have been inspired by the work the organization does with limited resources.
I’m thrilled that the monies raised will be going towards setting up a Migrant Hardship Fund to serve as a safety-net for destitute migrants who are unable to work or even afford basics such as food, bus tickets to legal and other appointments, providing them with the basic needs they require.
Huge thanks to everyone who donated and the whole Migrant Action team for their continued support!
27,331 people were held in UK detention estate in 2017 on grounds of ‘breaching’ immigration rules. Detention is integral to UK immigration policy as an instrument for immigration control, economic exploitation and the institutionalisation of social injustice. For many detainees, detention violently robs them of their humanity and dignity. Detention centres are a regular and significant mechanism in the government’s immigration system and central to the its hostile environment agenda.
In 2018, Alex Sobel MP, in a talk at the University of Leeds captured vividly some of the unique and defining characteristics of UK detention estate; He revealed the structural violence and abuses within the system unique in comparison to the rest of Europe. One of the defining features of the UK detention system is its accommodation of unlawful and indefinite detention. The Home Office have the power to detain people indefinitely, without authorisation from judges. For Sobel, this policy does not reflect what he thought a liberal democracy was, but instead an authoritarian, undemocratic government. In 2017, one person had been held for 1,514 days, more than four years. What has been suggested as an improvement is a 28-day limit on immigration detention. However this has been shunned by the government who argue this is just a ‘slogan’ and has no real evidential backing. However, the fact that one can be held in detention for two months and in some cases years without access to justice is at odds with their human rights and the fundamental premise of the UK judicial system.
Along with the indefinite time period, Sobel describes the inhumane conditions of detention centres. Firms like G4S who are contracted to manage these centres, provide the bare minimum conditions under the government’s watch. For example, there are regular cases of unlawful and fatal use of restraint, which has a detrimental physical and mental effects on migrants. Since 2010, there has been six rulings in UK courts on the treatment of migrants in detention centres, as the treatment is seen in breach of rights under Article 3 of the European convention of human rights (right not to suffer torture or inhuman and degrading treatment). No doubt, many more cases would have been taken to court, however it is common for migrants to lack knowledge of their own legal rights, which is another problem.
Despite these problems laid out by Sobel, there is a distinctive lack of engagement with the topic of detention centres by the public, even though around £108 million of taxpayer’s money funds this abusive system every year. In the 2018 Shaw Report, it is stated that detention centres are “little known and little understood” by the public and the media. Migrant Action believe that this public ‘amnesia’ and culture of distance about the institutional violence within the UK detention estate embolden the state apparatus to pursue unnoticed rampant state harm on vulnerable migrants behind the walls of detention centres.
It is our mission to lift the veil off the injustices and violence in detention centres and help build public consciousness towards greater accountability by the state.
Migrant Action believe detention centres are embedded in a wider issue of chronic, systematic underinvestment in the immigration system. They are emblematic of government’s approach towards migrants, described by MP Joan Ryan as “going after low hanging fruit to meet immigration numbers”. There is a strong view that the government have an abundance of evidence for action, however they strategically shuffle around this. For example recently, the Immigration Regulations and the Detention Centres Rule 2018 was formed right before Stephen Shaw’s second review into detention centres. This was so the Home Secretary could push through a new definition of torture within the detention centres through parliament, preventing Shaw voicing his own concerns about torture and vulnerable migrants.
In addition, it is a mistake to believe detention centres within the UK are necessary. There are workable alternatives to detention centres. Sweden shows how with political will, a better system can be in place. Detention centres are rarely used, as in 2013 only 2,900 people were detained, despite receiving high numbers of asylum-seekers. The system in place is one of case management, where a case manager will work with a migrant to provide a link for the individual to the authorities and the community. This allows the migrant to engage with support services of the community, and with their own immigration process. In Sweden this method meant that 68% of people ordered to leave the country went voluntarily.
What can you do to help? Don’t be a Bystander
Due to the evident lack of public knowledge, Migrant Action believe it is vital to spread awareness about the brutal regimes of the detention estate to your peers. Raise the issue with your local MP and challenge them on what is being done about it. Press your local MP to engage with national campaigns on ending detention. Engage with local advocacy organisations like Migrant Action, or organisations who work directly with detainees. Add your voice to the national campaign ‘These Walls Must Fall’ http;//detention.org.uk
Stand up for the human rights and for justice for those incarcerated in detention centres