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. They provide us with hope and energy and inspire us to continue building important connections within our community. This series – In Search of Radical Solidarity – aims to raise the profile of these groups, so we can learn the true meaning of radical solidarity from each other.
For this blog, we spoke to Patricia from Iberian Latin Americans in Wales CIC, a voluntary group that provide support and solidarity to people seeking asylum and refugees, as well as engaging in cultural activities. They host regular events and projects for their members during Refugee Week and arrange visits to places like the Swansea Botanical Gardens.
We first met them at our online Illegal Migration Act discussion, where Patricia, Director of Heritage and Communication, shared her opinion on how our community could gear up in response to the Illegal Migration Act. She shared with us the importance of community, staying connected and standing in solidarity with migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum, no matter what. We caught up with Patricia after the event to hear more about their work.
Patricia tells us about the origins of the group and how they have transformed over the years:
“We started in 2019 October. Initially, it was a cultural group so we got people from different countries together to learn morn about each others’ cultures. But as things progressed, more and more asylum seekers and refugees started arriving from Latin America and joined the group. They requested help with health, orientation and other forms of support.”
“We were not ready for it ourselves, because we started as a heritage group. But in September 2022, we decided to become a CIC and organise ourselves a bit more formally – we now have a Director of Asylum Seeker and Refugee Affairs. Our members needed support in the mental health area, so we looked into it and received an invitation to a health board. Luckily, we ended up finding people who had specialised in this field and we have now been running this project for two years.”
The group also have a mentoring support group for people seeking asylum, where guest speakers are invited to speak on a range of topics, like how to find a job or navigating their cases. In this group, they regularly share information from the Right to Remain Toolkit with their members, to keep them up to date with the asylum and immigration process. “The group has about 20 people who regularly meet and support each other. They are mentoring each other as well, because they have been equipped with information they can pass on to people who are newly arrived.”
Despite its name, Iberian Latin Americans in Wales is not only for people from Latin America, there are many people of different backgrounds in the group. “Any local person that is interested in our cultures and language is welcome to our organisation, so we have people from China to Kenya in our group. We connect them to other organisations where they can also get further support.”
How do you champion radical solidarity?
“Solidarity is part of our mission. For people to have a normal life, despite their traumatic experiences, is through the solidarity of other people. This solidarity is not only from people in their community, but members from the local community who haven’t typically experienced the same thing. They are willing to help without them giving anything back, so they see there are a lot of generous people in the world.
For example, our volunteer drivers deliver food parcels all over the city to food banks that support asylum seekers and refugees. They might have their own problems, but they still help other people.
By showing solidarity with other people, we can continue to make them feel welcome and safe.”
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