Get to know the newcomers, activists and volunteers we met in Athens, Berlin and London, as they share their personal experiences of refuge, welcome and the digital city.
In 2015 we grouped together under the Refugees Welcome banner with a focus on pushing the Council to resettle Syrian families in the borough. Ten or twelve of us have been meeting regularly in Lucy’s living room the past few years. It took time and a lot of effort, but we eventually got Haringey Council to agree to house ten Syrian families. They've all arrived as part of the government's Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).
The local council leader was always saying no, or blaming it on the Tory government, but I think she U-turned because we existed and we'd been making a lot of noise. We'd gotten thousands of people signing our petition and local media had covered it. We've learned much more about the immigration processes in the UK, and our work since then has refocused onto the hostile environment policies of Theresa May and her government, especially the impact on vulnerable migrants and refugees in our local area. So we don’t work directly with refugees — our mobilization is directed at the Council and at changing discourses and policies around refugees.
Update June 2020 — Since 2018, Haringey Welcome has continued its work to oppose Hostile Environment policies and practices and make Haringey a more welcoming borough. The group persuaded the Council to adopt a 'Welcome Strategy' and create a 'Welcome Advisory Board' — a roundtable for community groups to address problems together with councillors and officers. Haringey Welcome also petitioned and spoke at the European Parliament in October 2019 to raise grave concerns about the impact of Brexit on refugees and migrants. Together with local partners, the group has continued with community campaigning and outreach work, running schools poetry competitions, drama and storytelling workshops, and conducting a survey of barriers to accessing primary healthcare for migrants in the borough. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Haringey Welcome has been recording a music fundraiser to support migrant women domestic workers, which will be launched in July 2020.