‘This gave me so much confidence’: Inside our Manchester Toolkit workshop for These Walls Must Fall campaigners

News | These Walls Must Fall

The photo shows our These Walls Must Fall campaigners (some crouched, some standing) working together on an activity.
These Walls Must Fall campaigners working together through an asylum process activity

On Saturday 21 January 2023, Right to Remain had the opportunity to run a workshop for our fantastic These Walls Must Fall campaigners from Manchester, Liverpool, and surrounding areas. 

These Walls Must Fall (TWMF) is a community organising network of refugee and migrant campaigners for migration justice. Right to Remain supports the network to organise with allies and supporters from across all communities.

Training our campaigners

We believe that to achieve radical change in the immigration system we need to come together and fight for an alternative society, rather than tinkering with the policies and procedures of a racist, oppressive system. This will be a long struggle, and in the meantime, we need to fight to defend and extend our rights within the current system. We need to understand the system, in order to fight against it. 

So, although TWMF focuses on community organising and campaigning, we aim to support people to understand and survive the immigration system. Our training and skill-share workshops help our campaigners to fight for their rights against the oppression of the immigration system – for example by teaching them about the law, how to gather evidence, and how to find and build community support. 

Our campaigners are also ambassadors for Right to Remain. It is important for them to understand how to use and share our resources with our extended community – because knowledge is power. 

What we covered in the workshop

We started the workshop how we usually do: by going through how to actually use the Toolkit and how to get the most out of it. 

Although our resources are quite easy-to-use, there are so many good bits of information that getting a ‘tour’ of it all can help you find things you wouldn’t otherwise see! 

For instance, our campaigners were happy to discover that every page of the Right to Remain Toolkit (and website) has a Google translate bar. They also learned about our video resources (which are also available in other languages).

We then focused on three main themes for the rest of the session: an overview of the asylum system, changes made by the Nationality and Borders Act (and who they apply to), and the difference between legal support vs. legal advice.

We did an overview of the whole asylum system – the group put each of the stages of the system in order, before we discussed each stage in detail. It is important for us all to understand the asylum system as a whole for many reasons. For example, it can help people who provide support to those who are at a certain stage of the system understand their situation better. It also helps people who are currently seeking asylum to see where they are in the system and to see that they are not alone in facing delays, and shows them things they can do for their claim while they wait.

These Walls Must Fall campaigners sorting out stages of the asylum process

Then we added in the changes made by the Nationality and Borders Act (such as “illegal” entry, Group 1 & 2 refugee categorisations, and abbreviated appeals). We discussed what each of these changes mean, and who they apply to. We discussed the importance of the date of 28 June 2022 (when the Act came into force). 

There was (understandably) a lot of discussion around the Rwanda plan and legal cases, and how although the policy has been paused until a final legal decision is made, it is still causing a lot of pain and fear in migrant communities. We discussed the importance of sharing accurate information about the inadmissibility rules and Rwanda plan (and all parts of the immigration system) to debunk myths which only serve to scare people more. 

Lastly, we covered the difference between providing legal advice (this is something that only qualified people can do) and providing legal support (most people can do this). At a time when it is more difficult than ever to get a Legal Aid lawyer, it is important that our campaigners who are claiming asylum or helping others are educated and able to pass on key information about the legal process and provide support throughout the journey.

Campaigners discussing whether an action is legal advice or legal support

It was great to hear members provide examples of good legal support they have provided or received (like attending friends’ court hearings to provide moral support), and also caution against some unhelpful ‘support’ they have received e.g. someone who is not a lawyer telling them they do not qualify for asylum, which caused them to wait a further 2 years before claiming. When they eventually did claim asylum, they were granted refugee status within months! 

Feedback

At the end of the session, the campaigners provided us with some handwritten feedback. They are brilliant, and we have no doubt that they will be putting the information we spoke about during the workshop to good use in their communities. 

We can’t wait for the next TWMF training workshop!

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

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