Leeds workshop on the Illegal Migration Act; a narrative of hope and resistance

Events | News

Since September 2023, Right to Remain have been running a series of workshops looking at the potential impact of the Illegal Migration Act. This harmful legislation has caused much confusion and fear, but has been countered by a strong determination to learn about, and fight the act together. 

Nowhere has this been more obvious than in our most recent destination: Leeds. On Tuesday 6 February, we collaborated with Migrant Action to deliver an event for 20+ voluntary organisations from Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster and beyond, to break the Act down and think collectively about what can be done to protect our communities. 

When discussing the impact of the Act, common themes centred on an increased hostile environment and increasing levels of racism, mental health and Domestic Violence concerns, human rights violations, increased detention, destitution and exploitation, and the general criminalisation of people. The stress this would put on the third sector to protect and care for people impacted by the Act was also a concern, as capacity would be greatly affected, with burnout becoming commonplace.

When thinking about what we can do to prepare for the impact, there was a unified response of coming together to take action – as one attendee shouted out “we will not be divided! We will work together and collaborate, forming a narrative of hope and resistance.” This is crucial in the face of a right wing government intent on creating divisiveness and hostility. 

Thinking with this approach, another group noted the need to raise awareness and to bring more people into the fold, particularly those in different sectors like trade unions and destitution organisations. In doing this, migration justice is mainstreamed and involves the community as a whole, rooted within the grassroots.

The day closed with a panel discussion, with a diverse set of panellists bringing different skills and experience to the conversation. Joining the panel was Katie from NACCOM, Ghezae from RETAS and Tom from St Augustine’s Centre. 

Katie’s work centres around listening to, and solidarity with, NACCOM members, and bringing people together to share good practise and ideas. Notably, Katie expressed how she was “shocked” that the conditions have worsened over the 20 years she has been working with destitute people. She continued by saying how “wrong” enforced destitution is, something that will be a reality for those in the asylum and immigration system due to the implications of the Act. 

In terms of looking to the future, she explained that having a community will be key- to build trust, to stop the spread of misinformation, and to “build a bigger tent”.

Ghezae from RETAS held the same views, as he said “we can’t challenge this alone, and we can’t support people in the system well if we don’t work together”. He cited events like this IMA session crucial to bring people together to plan for action and share information.  

Tom from St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax agreed that there is strength in numbers, and gathering people together to brainstorm creates power in the face of bleakness. 

CEO of Migrant Action Fidelis Chebe reflected on the day:

The workshop further exposed the real and far-reaching impact of the IMA and highlighted the urgency to collectively ensure support and access to justice to those impacted by but not limited to the IMA.  The workshop offered a good opportunity to network, strengthening solidarity and public education about the act.   

Through these convenings, Migrant Action working will continue to develop awareness, strengthen collaboration and build resilience working closely with communities and partner organisations’.   We are deeply grateful to our partners, RTR for a very productive workshop.

If you would like to request a workshop for your organisation, please fill in the below form.

Leave a Reply

Please note Right to Remain cannot provide immigration legal advice that is specific to your individual asylum and immigration application.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.