How does our campaign work?

These Walls Must Fall is a network of groups, organisations and individuals working all over the UK to end immigration detention. This page tells you a bit about how that works.

Like all living organisms, movements and campaigns have DNA: a core structure which allows it to reproduce over and over again whilst maintaining coherence. It’s rarely thought of in this way in the midst of struggle, but most movements do have an unwritten set of assumptions about the way people work within them. The tighter and clearer this DNA, the easier it is to maintain coherence and grow effectively without becoming self-limiting (Read more at NEON). Campaign DNA is made up of story, strategy and structure.

The core story and strategy of These Walls Must Fall is outlined below in our values and principles, and our strategy document. The structure of local campaigning may differ from town to town, city to city, depending on local circumstances. Independent, creative and diverse organising and campaigning methods and tactics can grow within the values, principles and overall strategy.

Our values and principles

Foregrounding people with experience

These Walls Must Fall aims to put the voices and views of people directly affected by detention at the centre of campaigning. We support people who have been detained, or are at risk of detention, to speak out as experts rather than victims, and to lead the campaign.


We believe that people who are not at risk of detention need to stand alongside those directly affected to push for change. The campaign actively seeks to involve allies. Solidarity is about doing things with people, rather than for people. We encourage allies to act from a place of solidarity and justice, rather than pity or charity, and our campaigning seeks to galvanise outrage leading to change.

Self-help and mutual aid

These Walls Must Fall focuses on campaigning, but whilst detention still exists we aim to support people at risk to understand the system, how to mitigate some of the damage, how to help themselves and others. Our training and skill-share workshops help people to prepare in case of detention, to take precautions to try and avoid it, to get support if it happens, and to get out as soon as possible.

Equality and inclusion

We are campaigning for an end to immigration detention for all, not just for particular groups. Detention is wrong, for anyone.


Immigration detention, and the border enforcement regime, is a racist system. We are committed to the principles of anti-racism, and we see the campaign to end detention as part of the struggle against racism in our society. We are determined to make all efforts to challenge and eradicate racism that will exist within this campaign and that may arise in the future: internally or externally. We are opposed to racism, but recognise that to simply oppose it is not sufficient and a commitment to resisting it must be active and ongoing.

A people-powered network

These Walls Must Fall is a growing network of groups, organisations, communities, people. People from all sorts of backgrounds but with one thing in common: a determination to end the injustice of immigration detention.

People are pushing the campaign through their community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, trade unions, activist groups, faith communities, student societies, sports clubs… the list keeps growing!

When you have these people, groups, organisations, communities, acting together, it all adds up to some serious people power. This is what it will take to convince the politicians that they must act to shut down the detention centres.

Our Strategy: how we will make change happen

We believe that a diversity of tactics and voices are necessary to bring about the change we want to see. Our own strategy is itself part of a broader movement. We are building a network of locally-based community campaigns, with migrants front and centre, working together with allies of all communities. This is designed to complement other work such as direct political lobbying, advocacy, legal challenges, and protest.

Looking at the strategy diagram, starting at the top (WE WIN!) you can see that we identified our goal: people and communities safe from detention. How do we achieve that? Through a change in policy or law, taking away the possibility of detention.

How do we achieve that policy or law change? At the bottom of the diagram we have given examples of the kind of collective activities that we can all do together:

Collective community action

These activities will lead us up to the next row, creating an environment where we are protecting ourselves, making alliances, and building and using our collective power:

Building and using our power

This is when we start to make change, start to see results on our way to our ultimate goal of ending detention. Because of the way we are working together strategically, we will start winning: our community groups will be stronger, our voices louder, our alliances building, our individuals safer, our collective power growing.

Interim victories

We don’t expect our journey to be quick or easy. But our strategy is designed to win victories along the way. Because of the way that we all work together in this campaign, we look after ourselves and each other and use self-help and mutual aid strategies to keep people safe from detention. We expect to see reforms of the detention system before it is abolished. A time limit, for example, would see thousands freed from detention, and help to address the mental torture of indefinite detention.

We have already seen detention centres closed, and local campaigns have prevented two new centres from opening. Child detention has been virtually (though not fully) ended, and far fewer people are detained now than they were a few years ago. We will not stop with these reforms, though. Our ultimate goal is the abolition of this injustice.