“We’ve seen the far right showing up in large numbers and rioting outside an asylum hotel in Knowsley, and mobilising around plans to house people in places like barges and barracks. We can’t let this happen.”
By Mary Atkinson, Migrant Champions Network
Up and down the country, people seeking sanctuary are being housed in places barely fit for human habitation. People who are fleeing for their lives, seeking peace and safety in the UK, are housed in places infested with cockroaches, with fridges filled with mould, with no working front door to keep their young children safe from the busy main road.
The mental health impact of living in unsafe housing for months on end is dire. And right now, the government is planning changes that will see people placed in mass accommodation sites across the country, isolated from support and living in fear because of their housing conditions. Just last month, the Home Office was forced to move people off its asylum barge, the Bibby Stockholm, just days after they were forced on in the first place, because there was deadly bacteria in the water.
For people forced to live in these sites, the impact is made far worse by knowing that the threat doesn’t just come from within – from their unsafe accommodation – but also from outside. Asylum accommodation is a key target for the far right. This year we’ve seen the far right showing up in large numbers and rioting outside an asylum hotel in Knowsley, and mobilising around plans to house people in places like barges and barracks.
We can’t let this happen. We know that our communities are better, and stronger, than that. There is a huge amount that local councillors can do to resist far right activity around asylum accommodation in their constituencies. Local councillors can play a key role in strengthening community relationships, countering divisive messaging from the far right and fostering a spirit of unity and welcome for our new neighbours.
Michelle Hall, the mayor of Drogheda, who will share learnings from Irish councillors who have been successfully resisting the far right;
Misbah Malik, Senior Policy and Engagement Officer at HOPE not Hate, an organisation with a wealth of experience in standing up to the far right;
Nicola David, a campaigner who has been resisting large-scale accommodation sites like the Bibby Stockholm barge.
There will be plenty of time for questions and open discussions, where councillors can share the issues they are facing within their own contexts.
With the far right on the rise, the time to act is now. People in our communities want to stick together, welcome each other and live good lives side by side. Councillors have a huge role to play in making that happen, and making life better for people who move, and their new neighbours.
- ‘Resisting the far right in our communities – Learnings for local councillors‘ takes place on September 26th, 2023. You can register for the online event here.
- Mary Atkinson is the Co-ordinator of the Migrant Champions Network. You can follow them on X (formerly Twitter) here.