This week’s blog post is both late and rather short. Mostly because like many of us I am still processing what happened to us last week and torn between watching the unfolding shit-storm and hiding under the covers wondering when it will end.
I thought I would take a short time to talk about the future and how we can and should move on from this.
Firstly I recommend everyone reads two articles that I have read this week on the guardian website, one a direct response, the other from last year that seems even more pertinent now:
Zoe Williams writes about how we should move forward - Brexit Fallout: 6 practical ways to fix this mess - which if nothing else should remind people that we aren’t powerless and that we mustn’t sit around feeling miserable about the future.
The second article is a much longer one, and it’s not an easy read, but I think it deals really well with what I want to talk about and provoke a conversation with others about:
Paul Mason writes about the End of Capitalism. Perhaps this second article doesn’t make much sense within the context of this post, but I promise you it will help inform some of the posts I will make in the next few weeks.
As a group of people interested in supporting refugees and migrants who currently find themselves in Europe, but would much rather be in the UK, we need to start to think about what we do next. Possibly it is unlikely that we will be able to work as successfully in France forever, although we will continue our work in Calais for the foreseeable future.
The calls from French local authorities to consider a renegotiation of the France/UK border controls in light of the Leave decision only mean that we need to think harder and longer about how we move forward with refugee and migrant support within our own borders.
The horrifying verbal, physical and cultural attacks that have been reported since last Thursday, legitimised and emboldened by the campaign that was fought almost exclusively on a fear of the other and untenable claims about migrant workers mean that we can no longer think exclusively in terms of the migrant crisis on the European mainland. Whilst there still continues to be thousands of people trapped in legal limbo in camps around Europe, desperate to reach safety and security, we must also be extra vigilant and careful to support those who have already made it to the UK and are now at risk of ghettoisation, persecution, political blame and even violence.
As well as continuing to support the work of charities over the Channel, responding directly to the on-going humanitarian crisis we must think about how we work to protect, support and integrate those refugees and migrants who are successful in making the dangerous and difficult journey across to the UK.
We can no longer assume that success in travelling to the UK is the positive and safe conclusion of the process for refugees.
We must redouble our efforts to find new ways to integrate those who do make it here, so that they are made to feel safe and welcome in the UK and so that we can do our very best to protect them and teach our fellow citizens (many of whom are frightened by a future they no longer understand) how to see the positives that can come from asylum seekers being welcomed to the UK.
My feeling is that, much like our current political systems and our establishments, we are still working within an old paradigm in the way we talk about, think about and go about working with migrant communities to the UK.
Our friends (it’ll take more than a stupid popularity contest to make me think of them as anything else) on the mainland are already thinking and testing many great new ways of working to integrate these migrants into their societies. As such they are also thinking about their own communities and how they can deal with all kinds of other problems that they face.
Next week I will share a few interesting stories about some of the ideas, processes and reactions to the crisis that are being tested in Europe and how we might be able to learn from them and test some of our own responses.
For now I want to leave you with a provocation:
Do you know any organisations near you that work to help refugees and successful asylum seekers in the UK?
How can you help to support them going forward?
Do you have any great ideas as to how we can help support and integrate those who are seeking refuge into our society
and as a result help to heal the fracture that seems to have occurred?