This weekend, more than sixty initiatives around the UK celebrated migrants and migration, as part of the 1 Day Without Us day of action. MRN reports from Parliament Square, where hundreds of voices amplified a simple but powerful message: the UK is a country of migrants, and will only grow stronger when everyone’s rights are equally valued and protected.
by ANNA ROGUSKI
This Saturday the Migrants’ Rights Network joined hundreds of people in Parliament Square as part of 1 Day Without Us, telling the UK that we are proud to stand as and with migrants.
Under a cloudless blue sky we raised our voices and placards outside the Houses of Parliament, celebrating migration to the UK and calling for – among other things – an end to the exploitation of migrant workers; an end to the government’s hostile environment; and an end to the all too pervasive narrative that blames migrants for the country’s current social and economic problems. (For some recent examples, see here and here.)
Amongst those in the square was Gladys, who volunteered in 2017 as a Migrant Leader on MRN’s Outsider Project in Barking and Dagenham. Gladys came to the UK from Zimbabwe to flee conflict; she originally planned to stay for a short amount of time, but as the situation worsened in Zimbabwe she sought asylum to remain in the UK. Now, almost 20 years later, London is her home and she spends her time volunteering and supporting other migrants around her job as a taxi driver.
Speaking in an interview with itv News at the 1 Day Without Us event in Parliament Square, Gladys said, ‘We are all human. We are people… So I am proud to be a migrant, but it doesn’t make me any different from you. We are the same.’
Gladys’ message was echoed in speeches at the rally by NHS doctors and leaders of migrant worker groups, and 1 Day Without Us’ message of unity received national news coverage from Channel 4, itv and BT – a step forward in creating a positive narrative about migration in the media.
Now that 1 Day Without Us’ action has taken place it’s down to each of us to ensure that we continue to raise our voices and show we are both proud stand with migrants and want the government to commit to a rights-based approach to migration. MRN recently outlined some of the main tasks ahead for 2018, and these are still very much ongoing. MRN’s own legal challenge to protect migrants’ right to patient confidentiality in the NHS is due for an oral hearing on March 1.
Meanwhile, there are numerous upcoming events where you can show solidarity and get up to date with the latest discussions on migration; visit the MRN Events Calendar for more some highlights.