Blogs by Jan Brulc
It's time to say thank you
Let's first of all focus on the celebrations. MRCF in partnership with other organisations will be hosting a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall tonight from 6pm to celebrate migrant women activists.
The idea is simple and powerful. Migrating to a new country brings many challenges and it is often women who step forward and find solutions on behalf of a wider group and help more vulnerable members of the community. They fight for equality, challenge prejudice and come up with innovative, practical and strategic solutions for those in need and all while working, studying and raising families.
While the immigration minister might think that "reforms are starting to take effect” it is difficult to see this reflected in the net migration numbers. These figures are proving extremely resilient to any drop. The principal reason is that the emigration number – people leaving the country - is running low. In fact emigration has declined from a peak of 427,000 in 2008 to 336,000 in 2011, while the number of people coming into the country stayed roughly the same.
The Ministry of Justice has laid out plans to substantially cut Legal aid, the public funding that aims to ensure that everybody can have access to legal advice and representation. Under these proposals, the vast majority immigration cases that are not asylum related will be ineligible for Legal Aid funding, as will be other areas of law such as employment, housing and family law.
Here is a briefing paper (opens PDF) MRN prepared on the topic explaingin in detail what this could mean for migrants' access to justice.
If you are concerned about the proposed changes you might want to join the Sound Off For Justice campaign and lend your voice to stop the Government's proposed cuts to legal aid.
Here is the problem. When people ask us about our work in general, we tend to offer an answer focusing on what we are doing and how we are doing it. This is completely normal, because we think in terms of what and how most of the time when faced with a particular tasks. But it is understanding why you are doing it that is important when you want to communicate clearly what your intended impact is.
So more than anything else when preparing for the workshop, I was keen to pull together arguments for why engage in online advocacy in the first place, re-visiting the same question I had to answer over a year ago writing up the first version of the MRN communication strategy trying to make a case for an increase in our online work.
At the same time, this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention. Normally, we can hardly escape all the negative reporting in the media, but Refugee Week was always a good time to do something different and focus on the positive stories that encourage a better understanding of why people come to Britain seeking protection.