Opinion

A Statement From Matt Carr

‘It’s more than four months since One Day Without Us first emerged as a Facebook discussion, and now, somewhat to our own astonishment, February 20 is at hand. When we first formed an ad hoc group to prepare for this event last October, most of us had never met. We all shared the same sense of urgency and common purpose. All of us were galvanised by the alarmingly xenophobic drift of UK politics over the last 12 months. We had had enough of seeing migrants and foreigners – or simply people who looked and sounded foreign – being abused and harassed in our streets and denigrated by politicians.

All of us wanted to do something to counter these developments, and we felt that something bold, dramatic and exceptional was required in these exceptional times. We hoped for a great deal, but none of us knew what would happen when we set out on a political journey that was unlike anything many of us had ever taken.

We were – and we still are – an entirely grassroots campaign. We had – and still have – almost no resources. Despite this, we are now on the brink of something unprecedented and rather special – a national day of action in support of migrants in the UK. We have some 37 regional and local One Day Without Us organisations in towns and cities. More than 100 known events are being planned for next Monday. In the last four months we have received support from migrants organisations, NGOS, trade unions, universities, students and lecturers and even the Tate Gallery. Even now hardly a day passes without new events being added to the list.

Next Monday, on February 20, men and women and young people of all ages across the country will take part in an event that is simultaneously a protest, a celebration, a festival of migration, and a platform for migrants to make their diverse voices heard. It’s also an opportunity for British nationals to stand in solidarity alongside the men, women and children we have known as friends, neighbours, workmates, colleagues and students, and celebrate the fact that they are part of our society. All this is has been achieved almost entirely by volunteers, by migrants and their supporters across the country who have prepared for this campaign. Without them, One Day Without Us would have been nothing more than a passing conversation on social media.

Thanks to their efforts, we now have a chance to bring a new movement into the national conversation and celebrate the contribution that migrants make to communities across the country instead of blaming them for problems they did not cause. This is what so many of us have worked towards these last four months. Now let’s make it happen.

Let’s stand together at 1 o’clock on Monday in the unifying action and show that we will not be divided. Let’s make February 20 not just an end in itself, but a stepping stone towards a better  future.

We are millions. Let us stand together and show it.

Opinion

One Day Without Us and the Stop Trump Coalition: a message to our supporters

Many people will have heard that the Stop Trump Coalition have linked their protest on Feb 20 to our campaign. We would like to reassure our supporters that this does not mean that One Day Without Us is changing its identity, its values or its priorities.

We recognize that tens of thousands of people across the country have been moved to act in response to Trump’s anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and we have been in discussion with the coalition organisers to ensure that our two campaigns complement each other.

The Stop Trump Coalition organisers have shown an admirable willingness to facilitate the many events we have already planned across the country. They share with us a common determination to uphold the rights of migrants and defend the rights of EU nationals.

They also want to celebrate the contribution that migrants have made to the UK , and their organizing committee has asked their supporters to contact our local groups to coordinate local activities and avoid any potential conflict of interest.

We urge all those who have already given so much to our campaign to continue their work over the next weeks, and contact local Stop Trump organisers where necessary to see that their activities do not conflict with each other.

Our two campaigns share a common rejection of the politics of hatred and division and a common refusal to accept the scapegoating of migrants.

Between us, we can make Feb 20 the greatest statement of solidarity with migrants in UK history.

Let us seize this opportunity, and stand alongside the migrants we have known as colleagues, co-workers and friends. Let us celebrate their presence and show our own politicians – and Donald Trump – the kind of society that the UK has already been – and can still be.

Opinion

Theresa May’s promise to protect workers’ rights rings hollow for migrant workers

Theresa May’s promise to protect workers’ rights during Brexit will mean nothing if migrant workers are neglected.

Theresa May has committed to protecting workers’ rights enshrined in EU law, as she charts the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. This is welcome but her aim of ‘controlling migration’ places those very rights at risk for the millions of migrant workers in the UK.

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Testimonial

Liz Needham’s story

My name is Liz Needham and I am an Irish citizen. I was born and brought up in Dublin although I can trace very recent British, Irish and Scottish roots back to 100AD. My paternal grandfather moved to Ireland from Leicestershire when he was in his early 20s. I moved to the UK in 1990 with my five year old daughter. I was 24. I am now 50 and have lived in the UK longer than I lived in Ireland. My brother and one of my sisters live here too, and several years ago I adopted a young boy whose mother, my friend, had passed away. I also have other family here in the form of British cousins on my father’s side that I have come to know over the years.

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Opinion

A multinational question of belonging

What constitutes home for you?

Is it only the country of your birth or something inherited through via family history? Or do you believe it is in your own hands, your home being where you have lived the longest, contributed the most, loved the deepest or felt most connected to the people and places that surrounds you?

However differing our measures of home may be, I’m sure most of us can agree that home—belonging— is a crucial component in all our lives. After all, an “Englishman’s home is his castle”, is it not?

So, imagine being told one day, after many years of living in your chosen home, to “make arrangements to leave”. To pack up the home where you have lived for more than half of your life, studied, worked, had a family and “laid roots”.

A horrible scenario, don’t you think? You’d be forgiven for thinking what follows is a story from a war-torn country. But not so.

This is the story of Monique Hawkins: a Dutch graduate of Cambridge University who has lived in the UK for the past 24 years.
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Factual

The Story Of Buckden Pike

Amid the dark pools and close-wrapping clouds on top of one of Yorkshire’s highest peaks, there stands an isolated war memorial. It’s hard to get to, needing a long and strenuous walk up Buckden Pike, a mountain that often swirls with mist and soaking rain, even when the valleys are lit by sunshine. Down in the grassy meadows, wooden signposts point up towards the ‘Polish War Memorial’, hidden on the moors.

Many walkers have no idea what the stone cross is for until they read the words on its base, and yet it holds an atmosphere of silence and respect. This small monument does something else too, telling a story that cuts through the confused fury of our current national debate on immigration.

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One Day Without Us Digital Album

1DWOU Digital Album: Islington Refugee Choir with World Harmony Orchestra

Track 21. The War Is Over – Happy Christmas! Islington Refugee Choir performing with World Harmony Orchestra

We are grateful to the Istlington Refugee Choir and The World Harmony Orchestra for their contribution to the One Day Without Us Digital Album.

World Harmony Orchestra conducted by Romain Malan
Refugee Choir from Islington Centre for Refugees and MigrantsRecorded live at Amnesty International on Tuesday 13th December 2016.

The World Harmony Orchestra is made up of professional musicians based in London who come from all over the world, playing for peace and important humanitarian causes. Website


The Islington Refugee Choir is made up of members from the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. 

The Centre welcomes refugees and asylum seekers at many different stages of their journey from those waiting to hear about an asylum claim, to others with refugee status who need help with learning English, or other aspects of settling in the UK.

We know that it takes time to find a way to belong, especially after leaving one’s own country under traumatic conditions, so we strive to give people that time.

Our particular concern is for refugees and asylum seekers who don’t yet speak English and so find it hard to communicate. We work together to build a safe, positive experience of community where people can share their gifts with one another and strangers can become friends.

We work with men and women from all over the world including Eritrea, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Colombia, Iran, Iraq and India.


Islington Centre For Refugees and Migrants
Music classes led by Romain Malan.

“We sing meaningful and optimistic songs that connect people with their past whilst accompanying them on a journey towards a happier future.”

Most people sing, others play ukulele, shaker, tambourine or keyboard. We mainly sing English songs to help learn the language; Smile, Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Feeling Good are favourites.

“The music class relaxes my mind. I enjoy listening to music.” – Student

“I love the music class because I relax and switch off bad thoughts.” – Student

We also welcome songs from people’s original countries and sometimes improvise or compose pieces inspired by artwork or poetry created in the Art and Writing classes.

We choose songs with an accessible vocabulary and arrange them to make them playable by all. With the precious support of our volunteers, we can spend time on pronunciation and the meaning of the words. We also work towards performances, often for the Centre’s fundraising events.

Music has many other important benefits too: it transcends language barriers, and builds people’s self-confidence, as well as a strong sense of group cohesion. Website

 

One Day Without Us Digital Album

1DWOU Digital Album: Flit – Laws Of Motion

Award winning composer Martin Green Has Contributed a song to One Day Without Us Album from his latest collaborative project Flit.

Track 1. Laws Of Motion, Flit

Karine Polwart / Martin Green (MCPS)

“Flit was a project inspired by people’s stories of moving round the world. Of all the things we discovered talking to people the single most obvious point to us at the end was; all animals have always moved around, and humans are no different. I feel that of all the tracks Karine Polwart’s words to Laws Of Motion put the state of eternal flux of the human population most poetically.”

Flit brings together Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison and Becky Unthank from The Unthanks, the songs are inspired by first-hand stories of human migration, some heart-warming, others heartbreaking and features songs and original music by Green with lyrics from Karine Polwart, Anaïs Mitchell, Sandy Wright and Aidan Moffat.

For more about the project please visit martingreenmusic.co.uk

 
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Testimonial

Daria was given an important lesson at age 5.

Aged 5, I was given a beautiful world atlas with maps, flags and cute pictures of various countries’ citizens, presented as cartoon couples in their national dress. I wasn’t particularly fond of the Germans though. They were bad, they had Hitler and they killed my Great-Grandfather. I wanted them to disappear. So with sadistic care and a pair of scissors, I scratched them out of the book, especially their plump little faces. I was 5, and that’s when I was given my first lesson in not being a nationalist/racist from my appalled parents.

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