It’s nearly two years since the One Day Without Us campaign was formed in the autumn of 2016. Our campaign was born on the Internet in response to the rise in post-Brexit hate crime and the attacks on migrants and EU citizens emanating from British politicians and the media. We believed then – and we believe now – that we were in the throes of a genuine social emergency, in which migrants and people perceived to be migrants were coming under unprecedented attack.
(Photo by Tim Dennell) – Sheffield march and rally
We saw an overlap between the anti-immigrant rhetoric of politicians and the media and the events taking place on the street, where migrants were being subjected to verbal and physical attacks. We believed that these developments threatened the lives and futures of millions of people, and ran counter to the better instincts of this country.
Faced with relentless anti-immigrant hostility, we wanted to mobilise immigrants and their supporters in communities across the country. We set out to celebrate migrants and migration, and create a common platform for unity and solidarity between migrants and their supporters. On 20 February last year we mobilised tens of thousands of people in the first-ever national day of action in solidarity with migrants in the UK. Trade unions, NGOs, charities, universities and cultural institutions all took part in events up and down the country organised by a network of mostly-migrant volunteers who came forward to support the day of action.
This year, on 17 February, One Day Without Us staged its second national day of action. Once again our campaign garnered national media attention, enabling us to project positive messages about migrants and migration that are rarely heard in the national immigration debate.
All of us who were involved in the campaign can be justifiably proud of these achievements. Our campaign was a genuinely grassroots campaign, driven entirely by volunteers. We have never had any financial backing or support, and operated on the tiniest of budgets.
Perhaps not surprisingly, we have often struggled. Our core team and our network of volunteers had become seriously depleted even before the last day of action. Concrete support from other organisations has been patchy and more often non-existent. Political backing, even from sectors where it might have been expected, has often been equally absent.
From the beginning, One Day Without Us has been coordinated nationally by a handful of people, working entirely in their own time. We have now reached the point when this is no longer sustainable. On behalf of the steering committee therefore, we regretfully announce that the national campaign is over. We thank all the organisations and individuals who have supported us over the last two years. We salute the volunteers who came forward to make our campaign possible, often in very difficult political and social circumstances, in communities across the country.
We will never forget the courage, solidarity and goodwill that they have shown. Our campaign has demonstrated what can be done when the will is present, even when money and resources are absent. We believe that campaigns like ours are as essential now as they were when we began.
We remain, and always will be, proud to be migrants and proud to stand with migrants.