Seasonal Greetings – and end of year round up....

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, etc. MRN thanks all its friends and fellow networkers for a productive, campaigning year, and looks forward to more in 2013.....

This is the very last blog and the last newsletter for 2012, which was the sixth year of MRN’s work.

It is a good time to thank everyone with whom we have had the opportunity to work over the course of the past 12 months, and sketch out some ideas on what the big issues are likely to be in 2013. 

Amongst the many highlights for our work over the past twelve months have been the work we’ve been able to do with the GMB and its regional organisers across the country, helping them to draw up plans for the recruitment of migrants and drawing them more closely into the work of the union.  This involved ten separate meetings in the union’s main regions and the opportunity to work with over 200 officials and activists. 

Understanding the immigration policy discussion in Scotland has never been so important, particularly with a referendum on independence now planned for 2014.  Our colleagues in Migrants Rights Scotland have been our indispensible guide at every step in the way on this matter, and an invitation to participate in one of their roundtable events is an important moment in every year for us.  This took place in Glasgow March this year and continued via the internet throughout the rest of 2012.  Watch these blogs for more news about major events in Scotland on migration throughout 2013.

We also want to thank the over 65 organisations who joined us for our national network meeting this year.  The day of intensive discussion allowed us to form plans for activity on legal services to migrants, challenges to family reunion, and a range of other issues which we have been acting on during the course of the year.

MRN has always been aware that there are more ways to think about immigration than just in political and economic terms.  The opportunity to participate in Human Rights Watch’s annual film festival as sponsors of films with immigration themes is one of the ways we do this and we were glad to continue this tradition in 2012.

We were particularly proud of the work we were able to do with community arts activists on the London Borough of Brent, with the Belonging and Belongings exhibition which took place in Willesden Library in June.  More of this is planned for 2013, when the work moves to Deptford, in south east London.

Over the course of the past two years we have worked hard to foster relations with Members of Parliament and Peers who want to develop intelligent, informed opinion on the issue of migration.  We have done this by working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration.  APPG Migration organised five well-attended discussion events in Parliament during the course of the year, dealing with such themes as economic policy and migration, the provisions of legal advice services, trade with Commonwealth countries, family migration policy and the position of international students.  It also organised very successful fringe events at the Labour and Conservative Party conferences.

In addition to everyone we worked with to make these successful events in 2012 we can also report that our ‘bread and butter’ work of maintaining commentary on immigration policy developments on our website was maintained throughout the year, with over 190 blogs reporting on policy developments and campaigning initiatives.  These went our each week to over 4,000 subscribers to our newsletter as well being read by the 30,000 unique visits to the website each month.  These have also been relayed to MRN’s 5,200 Twitter followers, and 2,500 Facebook fans.

Our final campaign in 2012 was around the ‘Our Day’ effort to get a higher profile for International Migrants Day, which takes every year on 18 December.  Thanks to the 54 organisations who supported this initiative, all those people (well over 200 and counting...) who posted pictures of themselves and their friends holding ‘Our Day’ posters, the 40 MPs who signed an early day motion marking International Migrants Day, and the people who organised 14 events in December using the ‘Our Day’ logo.

To all of you, including all the people who have followed our work over this past year, our sincere thanks.  Stay with us in 2013 – we promise even more in the way of activism, campaigns, and great events and ideas!

Until then, a happy, peaceful Festive time to you all, and the very best for 2013.

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A note on commenting

Due to recent increased commenting activity we have taken the decision to disable commenting on old blogs. As we are a small office it is simply impossible to fight spam and keep removing comments that don’t comply with our house rules on what is now an archive of over 800 pieces.

We have also decided to take a more proactive role in enforcing our blog house rules on the blogs where comments are open. The rules are there for a good reason and we want to make sure we are consistent and apply them across the board. 

This is not in any shape or form meant to stifle debate, but to make sure that it remains civil and on topic.

Thanks and best regards,

--MRN Team

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