The first of many: Our Campaigners Development Programme workshop in Manchester

News | These Walls Must Fall

These Walls Must Fall campaigners and Right to Remain staff stopping for a quick photo after a chatty lunch break!

Earlier this month in Manchester, Right to Remain staff team launched a new induction session that will be a regular part of our These Walls Must Fall Campaigners Development Programme. Manchester is home to many of our active These Walls Must Fall campaigners and our Organiser, Maggy, a perfect place to test our new material.

If it is exhausting to fight the hostile immigration and asylum policies created by the British government, imagine living through it while fighting against it – and that is the reality of These Walls Must Fall campaigners. Underlying our approach on that day was that sharing information and facilitating learning activities must take place in an environment for our campaigners to relax and build stronger connections with each other and also with us. 

The morning began with hot drinks and a quick catch up. Following the introduction, we began with a short quiz on the history of Right to Remain and our team. We have to admit that we felt proud when sharing our origin story, of “National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns”, and how it led to us becoming “Right to Remain” while retaining its ethos of radical solidarity and action. We felt proud again when we found out that campaigners assumed we have more staff members than we actually do! Sharing of this origin story also allowed all of us to acknowledge a clear link between Right to Remain and These Walls Must Fall, a part of a longer history of the organisation and struggle. 

 

A bit of These Walls Must Fall and Right to Remain history

At Right to Remain, we believe that movements that call for the end to the Hostile Environment should be led by the people directly experiencing it. And through this workshop, we tried to understand our campaigners’ needs so that we can provide a right kind of support that allows them to build power and fight for themselves and for our community. 

One of the topics we looked at in the session was social media. Social media is a powerful tool for campaigning and social change – it allows you to gather information, share important messages, connect with others who believe in the same cause and can even change how people view certain issues.  We covered new platforms and encouraged campaigners to teach each other any social media tips and tricks they may have.

After exploring what makes good – or better – social media posts and the meaning of some of the hashtags we use (#TheseWallsMustFall, #NoOneIsIllegal, #MigrationIsLife), we did a group exercise where our campaigners came up with creative ways to post about the workshop using photos, hashtags and even some emojis!

Understanding how to use social media and digital tools is one thing, but making sure you have an appropriate electronic device is another. This is in fact an acute issue for our campaigners who have various devices – digital divide is real and even when we have capacity to provide a new device for them (thanks to our funders!), we don’t have an opportunity to show them how to use it.  It was also a huge learning point for our team – we learnt that each of the campaigners’ tech devices were different and they operated differently – and we don’t think we previously appreciated these differences fully. We now have better ideas about how to support our Campaigners on this as they use Zoom, WhatsApp and others. 

We wrapped up the day at the Friends Meeting House by discussing the current situation on detention and reporting. We opened up the floor to campaigners, so they could lead with any pressing questions they had regarding the topic, and we could think as a group how to build our knowledge base. 

At the same time, our These Walls Must Fall campaigners have immediate concerns, about the way that detention and reporting might affect them directly. We revisited some of the resources, our Toolkit pages on detention and reporting, and discussed the actions to take if they, or someone they know, are afraid of being detained. We did this while campaigners also share their own experiences and reflection on immigration enforcement.

Staff team ended the day with an informal reflection over snacks and hot drinks. We felt uplifted  spending the day in Manchester with our campaigners – a city with a long history of organising and campaigning. And we are looking forward to bringing this session in the New Year to our These Walls Must Fall campaigners in other other cities.

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