During 2017, the Migrants’ Rights Network coordinated the Outsider Project in four locations across England, in response to the steadily worsening perception of, and increased hostility towards, migrants living in the UK.
The Outsider Project supported migrants affected by the negative discourse around immigration, and promoted a positive narrative demonstrating the benefits of living in an open society where migration is commonplace. The project sought to achieve this by establishing migrant spokespersons to counter the negative narrative around migration; by supporting local migrant communities to organise and build bridges with non-migrant populations; and by lobbying policy makes and stakeholders to demonstrate the consequences of restrictive immigration policies on their communities and beyond.
The design of the Outsider Project aimed to ensure that both its approach and delivery were migrant-led. The project’s approach was adapted from participatory action research methodology, and developed through stages of training local leaders, research and evidence analysis. Based upon this, local Migrant Leaders in each location received training to develop and lead the project’s advocacy initiatives, and – with the support of the Migrants’ Rights Network – engage and support local migrant communities to organise around and act on key issues they identified as affecting them.
This report traces the Outsider Project’s main achievements in each of the four areas – Boston, Wolverhampton, Oldham, and the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham – elected for participation. The report also draws lessons about the benefits of local organising. It attests to the fact that migrants can be effective agents of change.