This year, the Right to Remain team have been busy gearing up to become a lead cheerleader for radical solidarity. We have been reaching out and connecting with grassroots groups who attend our workshops, share their campaigns with us and use our resources. To us, these groups embody the true meaning of radical solidarity whilst also giving us hope for a brighter future through their work. This series – In search of radical solidarity- aims to raise the profile of these grassroots groups, so we can learn from each other.
LGBT Northern Social is a social group that supports LGBTQ+ people in the Newcastle – Gateshead area. They aim to fight social exclusion and enhance the lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community. Over the last six years they have been running, LGBT Northern Social has been focusing on removing the barriers that prevent people from accessing community spaces. For example, they ensure they only host events in wheelchair-accessible, neurodivergent-friendly venues and host free, donation-based events. As an inclusive group, they host a plethora of activities for their members, including swimming, yoga, book clubs, and evening socials.
After an increase in people seeking asylum joining the group, LGBT Northern Social is aiming to set up a group for them in the near future. This comes off the back of their current work with people seeking asylum, where they write letters of support and provide legal information on their cases.
We spoke to Beki and Cat from LGBT Northern Social to hear more about their work, their experiences supporting people seeking asylum and how they embody radical solidarity.
“The charities in our area tend to focus on the legal journey of asylum and immigration, but we have found there isn’t much social inclusion. So, our core events are open to everyone- we want people who have already been granted refugee status and people who are still in the system. “
“It has been a learning curve, we learnt a lot from our first member who was a person seeking asylum. There is a lot of good support out there including the Toolkit, that helps people get the information they need.
Because we are an LGBTQ+ organisation, our members have LGBTQ+-based asylum claims. We have some members who have entered the country on other claims, like torture, and though we may not know the best way to support them, we happily write letters of support and help in other ways.
How do you champion radical solidarity?
“We are active in our activism and we are really vocal about our organisation runs, the protests and demonstrations we organise and attend. We always ensure intersectionality is at the forefront of our group, to make it a safe space. We go to our members and ask them what they want. Being radical as queer people is existing in visible and open spaces.
As a team, we try to educate ourselves because everything is constantly changing. We keep on top of things, so correct terms are used. We don’t want people feeling oppressed because they go through enough of that.”
Radical solidarity to us is not always about visible action, its what goes on in the background; helping people find travel, food and clothes. Its about the care, love and support – being a comfort to people is radical solidarity in itself.”
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