What is Haringey Welcome?
Haringey Welcome is a campaign group of local volunteers. We work for fairness, dignity and respect for migrants and refugees in the London borough of Haringey. We want a welcoming and inclusive community that benefits everyone who lives and works here.
We believe the Government’s so-called ‘Hostile Environment’ policies, aimed at vulnerable migrants, threaten the safety of those individuals as well as creating hostility within the wider community. In response, we aim to nurture and reinforce the positive values of diversity, inclusivity and welcome in Haringey.
In September 2015 we began our first campaign, as part of the nationwide Refugees Welcome movement. We wanted the borough to accept Syrian refugees via the Government resettlement scheme. In November 2016 we succeeded in persuading Haringey Council to resettle ten Syrian refugee families.
What are some of the issues affecting the lives of migrants in Haringey?
Haringey is a diverse place, with local residents from all around the world. Migrants suffer many of the same problems as others in the community – with concerns for quality jobs, housing and public services amongst the issues shared across the community.
Migrants and refugees in the UK also have to deal with an unfair and dysfunctional immigration system. Many people wait years for a decision on their status, and don’t have the right to work or study. These rules and inefficiencies prevent many migrants and refugees from integrating into local communities and getting on with their lives.
These are challenges facing people throughout the country. There are also two issues of particular concern to the residents of Haringey:
- Families with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) are entitled to support from the Council, to ensure that their children don’t suffer. In Haringey many are not being given the support they need. As a result, many vulnerable families in Haringey have become destitute. Our community and the Council can do more to ensure these families are properly supported.
- A new set of ‘Hostile Environment’ policies has begun to be implemented in the UK. These policies are forcing police, local councils, health professionals, teachers and other public servants to undertake check people’s immigration status and refuse services. The result is that migrants are afraid to access basic services such as emergency healthcare, and so are unable to live a normal life. Haringey Council should make clear that, as a local authority, their job is the representation and support of local residents, and not immigration enforcement.
Haringey Welcome will be focusing our campaigning on these two particular issues. Click here to view our pre-election briefing for councillors and candidates.
What are the objectives of the Haringey Welcome campaign?
The campaign will start a discussion on making the Haringey community and the local council welcoming for everybody. We want to make Haringey a place where all are treated with dignity and respect and have their rights protected. We will be discussing what policies and activities are needed to make this a reality.
We are keen to ensure that our local authority – Haringey Council – is working to serve the interests of all local residents equally, and is not supporting policies that alienate and marginalise migrants. We will be working across the community in Haringey, asking the Council to make a clear separation between its role as a local authority and the ‘immigration enforcement’ being undertaken. We want our Council to support and represent everybody in the borough.
How will these objectives be achieved?
We are starting by raising awareness in the community and amongst local representatives about what is happening in Haringey. Many people are not aware of what is taking place in the borough, while their fellow residents are made invisible and left to suffer in silence. We want to raise these experiences so that everybody knows what is happening and works together to address these problems locally.
There is also a role for our Council to embed the principles of welcome into local authority guidance and practices. We will be working across Haringey with civil society and local community groups to encourage the council to adopt these positive policies and messages.
Who will Haringey Welcome benefit?
All local residents, including migrants and refugees, will benefit from Haringey becoming a Welcome Borough. The current situation in which many of our fellow residents cannot live freely and without fear is immoral, damages community cohesion and make everybody less safe. As well as being harmful to recent migrants and refugees, many of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policies are also a threat to public service provision for everybody. We know that people who have lived fifty or more years in the UK are being threatened and their rights removed. These policies enable and encourage racial discrimination. We know that policies that discriminate against one group can readily be extended to us all.
Becoming a Welcome Borough would mean Haringey doing all it can to include everybody equally, and act in the interests of local residents. Evidence from the United States suggests that communities that have adopted ‘sanctuary’ or welcoming policies have a lower crime rate, lower unemployment and higher incomes. Similar policies in Haringey would enable all residents in our borough to contribute to, and benefit from, a community that is safe, united and supportive to all.