It’s been quite a year. Tempting as it is to not look back at this year, it’s important to remember the small successes, and how we’ve survived this year to fight for a better one.
It wasn’t the brightest start to the year, with the immigration health surcharge doubling. The charge increased to £300 per year for students (up from £150) and £400 per year for all other types of application (up from £200).
We also said a sad goodbye to our brilliant comms officer, Luke Butterly. You can find him still writing great stuff, including this inspiring piece on the Verso blog.
Things started to look a bit more hopeful with the huge relief of the news that the Stansted 15 protesters, convicted for their actions in late 2018, would not be going to prison. Read our blogpost from the time here.
In March, we launched a brand new resource made by Rosie in Sheffield. It’s still available on our website! righttoremain.org.uk/toolkit/immigration-detention-a-rough-guide/
Also in March, the government opened fully the EU Settled Status scheme, for EU citizens and their family members who wish to remain living in the UK after Brexit.
In April, May Bulman of The Independent revealed that the number of “fresh claims” has more halved, attributed to a change in procedure for lodging the claims with the Home Office. Read more.
Also in April, Docs Not Cops, Migrants Organise and Medact launched a new #PatientsNotPassports toolkit designed to support you in advocating for people facing charges for NHS care, and in taking action to end immigration checks and upfront charging in the NHS. You can find it here.
In May, we were delighted to welcome Roxy Legane to the Right to Remain team. Roxy is one of our two These Walls Must Fall organisers in northwest of England.
Continuing with These Walls Must Fall, our of favourite actions of the year took place in May: Football vs the Home Office. In Sheffield and Bristol, local clubs came together to take on the Hostile Environment.
Here’s a photo of the action in Sheffield, where Mount Pleasant FC staged a football match outside the Home Office building, Vulcan House.
Oh, and Theresa May announced she was resigning.
June saw an excellent solidarity action in Bristol when Ken Macharia’s rugby team-mates flanked him as he went to report at the Home Office following a Home Office refusal (accompanied by the song “I will survive”). We wrote about it here.
These solidarity actions are always crucial, and this is the approach we recommend in the Right to Remain Toolkit. You can see why community action has taken on such an important role in defending community members if you read Dr Jo Wilding’s report, released in June, on legal aid droughts and deserts.
July was a BIG month for us. In collaboration with Refugee Info Bus and Sara Khayat Art Work, we launched brand new videos. The videos are short animations about key stages of the asylum process, available in nine languages.
The videos have received over 20,000 views on Right to Remain’s Facebook page and YouTube channel alone!
More info about where you can find the videos here.
In August, we were pleased to once again team up with The Claim – a play about the surreal experience of the asylum interview – running a workshop on the UK asylum process as part of Edinburgh Festival.
And in Manchester, These Walls Must Fall campaigners joined activists fighting for disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights and climate justice as part of ‘From the Crowd’. This was a participatory performance commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, weaving eyewitness accounts of the massacre with contemporary accounts of the struggles we are still fighting today. Read more about it here.
The work on the Right to Remain Toolkit is ongoing, often unglamorous and sometimes unnoticed, so it’s worth flagging up that in September, we relaunched a key section of the Toolkit. Previously called “Rights of the Child” the new “If You Have Children” section is updated, rejigged and more accessible. See the new Toolkit section here.
In legal matters, we were really pleased to see years of hard campaigning by many organisations pay off with the reinstating of legal aid for the immigration, nationality and citizenship cases of separated children. Read more here.
And it was a big month for These Walls Must Fall, with a national demo at Morton Hall detention centre, followed by a community football tournament in Sheffield the next day. You can read a great write-up called “Voices from Morton Hall”, here.
Here’s a photo from the day – the protesters braved absolutely awful weather because the cause is so important and their passion is strong.
In November, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 2018 decision from the Court of Appeal that, prior to March 2017, the Home Office had been detaining people under the Dublin Regulations unlawfully.
Anyone who was detained for the purposes of the Dublin procedure between the dates of 1 January 2014 and 15 March 2017 should seek legal advice about whether they are entitled to damages (compensation). Read more.
December. Well, December has shown us how hard it will be to achieve migration justice through parliament any time soon. We will carry on building power, connectedness and hope in our communities, in our streets.
As we digested the grim news on Friday 13th, our hearts and heads were lifted when we suddenly started getting emails coming in telling us that people had set up regular giving to Right to Remain, or were making one-off donations. Thank you to everyone who did that (and we know of course many people do not have the means to do – we value your support and love just as much) for us, or for any important work that is going to be needed so much more over the coming months. We’re not going anywhere.
We are devastated and enraged to hear so many people of colour, LGBT+ people sharing experiences of verbal and physical attacks since the election results came in. We will stand together, stronger than ever, and defend all of our communities.
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