By Lisa Matthews, Coordinator at Right to Remain
Immigration detention is a national policy, but we believe change will come from local communities calling for change at a local level.
It is local communities that are being damaged and divided by detention, and it is from local communities that people are snatched and taken many miles away, locked up in detention centres indefinitely.
Local people – constituents – have the power to influence their MPs to speak out and take action against detention, and create a climate of intolerance to this unjust and immoral policy. You can give our elected representatives the confidence, the courage and the motivation to be part of challenging immigration detention.
At two These Wall Must Fall events recently, we asked people to think about what they – and others – could do locally to challenge this unjust, inhumane and immoral policy.
The first event was at our annual gathering in Liverpool in September, when people from Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Gateshead, Sunderland, Hartlepool, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Coventry, Brighton, Sheffield (and of course Liverpool itself) came together to share ideas, hopes, fears and plans.
The second was a workshop in Brixton, south London as part of a Fences and Frontiers series.
People came up with a fantastic variety of ideas for local actions that really tapped into local dynamics, culture and structures.
Here are some of the suggested actions – why not try these where you live?
- Exhibitions on detention in local museums, galleries and other public spaces
- Raising awareness in the less obvious places – e.g pubs?
- Engaging local councillors
- What about the GLA? (in London)
- Educating people about risk of being detained at Home Office reporting centres
- Getting stories into local media – about local people, neighbours, with experience of detention or at risk
- A local blog – keep a tally of anyone from the local area is taken to detention (no-one else records this information)
- Speaking to your local MP
- Getting local faith leaders involved
- Schools, colleges, universities
- Local demonstrations or vigils eg outside local town hall
- Speaking to local businesses about impact of detention
- And a lovely one infused with the spirit of Brixton – painting murals about detention in local streets