On 6th April, Stuart Andrew MP for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough met with the staff and management of RETAS and Migrant Action at RETAS offices in Leeds. Stuart was keen to understand the needs and experiences of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants and how RETAS and Migrant Action are enabling and supporting people who access their services.
The conversations with the MP captured the service model and interventions delivered by both services ranging from advice, education (ESOL), employment support, information and guidance, advocacy, facilitating integration, mentoring, access to legal advice etc. Both services provide a pathway for negotiating other forms of external support and assistance for refugees and other migrants. The discussions also highlighted the manifestations of the direct impact of government policies on different categories of migration and the implications for local service provision.
It was a positive visit and the MP reassured staff and management of his passion for local community resilience and commitment to continue supporting the work of RETAS and Migrant Action in various ways at local and governmental level.
In 2017, Migrant Action was selected to take part in a peer learning session organised by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Facilitated by Esther Foreman CEO of Social Change agency, Fidelis joined the CEOs of PRAXIS, Migrant Resource Centre and Refugee and Migrant Centre. Themed around ‘Movement building for service delivery organisations’ the sessions focused on sustainability and leadership, Communications, Strategy, Service User Voice and advocacy, Service delivery and challenging power.
The Peer learning session also involved an Action learning exercise whereby peers guided each other’s reflection and thinking on strategic organisational challenges and offered honest feedback and guidance. This was extremely useful shared learning from peers with lived experience and expertise. The learning gained from the sessions would be factored into our service delivery and service development plans.
Through participating in the learning set, Migrant Action has built new links and is seeking to establish strategic partnerships with Migrant Resource Centre and PRAXIS both having extensive experience of working with other migrants including irregular migrants.
Overall, it’s been an enriching and enabling exercise, very worthwhile.
It’s hard to believe that Christmas 2017 is just 3 days away!
Amidst the excitement, pressures, commitment and the temptation to over indulge as we engage in celebration with loved ones, it is also a time to reflect on the year that was for Migrant Action. Two words characterise 2017 for our organisation, Challenge and Promise
Increasingly, we have witnessed more migrants presenting in vulnerable circumstances with unresolved issues and complex needs. Migrants continue to experience destitution, limited access to basic information and guidance as well as restricted access to legal advice, advocacy, healthcare and welfare. Unemployment, limited knowledge and access to services and understanding of complex UK systems constitute key barriers to integration faced by migrants. Many vulnerable migrants continue to live a fringe existence susceptible to various forms of exploitation and degradation. These and more are largely the direct effects of deliberate policy making to create a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. With limited capacity, Migrant Action is committed to working and supporting migrants to navigate and resolve these challenges.
Amidst the challenges, 2017 has been a year of great Promise thanks to our amazing volunteers including our steering committee, supporters, funders, partners and collaborators. In solidarity with migrants, they have contributed immensely in various ways to ensure that Migrant Action is stable and continues to offer safe space and reliable pathway for assisting vulnerable migrants and those who do not fit into neat migration categories. Because of your help, we are ending 2017 much stronger as an organisation than in 2016, thank you!
On the foundations of such Promise, we look to 2018 with entrenched hope and resolve to continue to challenge the ‘hostile environment’ whilst working to empower and support vulnerable migrants. We hope that as you reflect on 2017 you would consider supporting Migrant Action’s work in whatever way yon can. And together in solidarity, together we can change the migration story and make it a positive experience for all in our great city of Leeds.
Merry Christmas! Best wishes for the season and for 2018.