POLICY WORK & CAMPAIGNS
Campaigning and Lobbying on immigration, equality and diversity issues
A key aspect of our work is to draw together the results and findings from research and our legal and advice services with the views of Black, Asian, Migrant and Refugee community organisations and develop quality policy challenges. We do this by either responding to specific government, local consultations, or mounting campaigns using social media to highlight the inequality and discrimination faced by Black, Asian, Migrant and Refugee individuals and communities. Action alerts, briefings and guidance will be available on this page as we conclude our investigations. This page will be updated at the end of every month, updates are also available through subscription through our mailing list. To subscribe please contact us.
We are currently exploring several policy and practice areas in greater detail: Go Home and Vans.
During the summer of 2013, the Home Office launched Operation Valken, commonly known as Go Home or Racist Van. The project saw the use of a billboard van across London encouraging undocumented migrants and those that had no current status to return to their country of origin. Two service users from RAMFEL, supported by Deighton Pierce Glynn launched a legal challenge against the Home Office based on the fact that there had been no consultation done with anyone (community organisations, and local councils and borough police) and that the Home Office had failied to pay due regard to equality and cohesion issues. Further legal action was precluded by the fact that the Operation Valken was a pilot. In October 2013 the government published a report on Opertaion Valken.
We are currently working with Warwick University and researchers from Goldsmiths University to look at the impact of Operation Valken and the general issue of immigration in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham.
International students have been the subject of a great deal of political and media attention in relation to reducing migration numbers. We have, through our partnership with ARRX, become increasingly concerned about how international students are affected by the reporting requirements of universities to engage with the Home Office. We are currently compiling an index of how different universities nationally have managed and interact with international students.
Homelessness Charities working with the Home Office
A core part of RAMFEL’s front line advice has been working with the street homeless. It is estimated that at least 1/3 of whom are migrants. We have witnessed a number of national and pan London charities advocating for people (who have rights and entitlements) to return to their country of origin, in order to reduce the street homeless count. We are lobbying for a better understanding of the options available to undocumented migrants and in particular access to services to help them regularise their stay in the UK, and access where appropriate support services.
We are also keeping a watching brief on how the Government’s guidance on ‘beds in sheds’ is impacting on migrant communities.
Operation Nexus, policing and refugee and migrant communities
Over the last year we have witnessed an intensification of the Metropolitan police being involved in joint operations on immigration control. We believe that this gives out the wrong message to refugee, migrant and Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. It also calls into question the Met’s ability and commitment to Total Victim Care. In addition to the high profile immigration stop checks conducted at major transport hubs, we also believe that activities such as Operation Nexus, need to be accountable locally and that police custody suites need to better understand and enable migrant individuals to access appropriate rights. Our work on Operation Nexus is funded by the Strategic Litigation Fund.
Redbridge Scorecard Project
In post-recession Britain, local authorities are facing severe cuts and official accountability structures are being scaled back. In this context, black and minority ethnic (BME) communities are at risk of falling further behind the rest of society.
Runnymede’s Race Equality Scorecard project is an innovative way of filling the accountability gap – holding local authorities and other stakeholders, such as the police and NHS, to account for racial inequalities in their areas.
Runnymede has partnered with RAMFEL locally and the results will be published here shortly in February 2014.
For further information on the Race Equality Scorecard Project you can visit http://www.runnymedetrust.org/home/scorecard.html.
Investigation into Newham Council’s approach to integration
Newham council has become notorious amongst migrant communities for it’s approach to ‘integration’. The council’s policies and practices centre around the withdrawl of translation services and an end to funding for single ethnic minority community organisations. We believe that such policies are ill thought out, and fail to draw a clear distinction between equality and cohesion. We have evidence that the council refuses to consider that such an approach is more costly and damaging to the long term development of communities in the borough.
Poverty and Discrimination via the DWP and Job Centre
Whilst both out of work and in work poverty affects all communities, we remain of the opinion that there is a disproportionate impact on refugee, migrant, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. We are currently collecting data sets from our casework service and job centres and emergency support providers to explore this in greater detail.
Barking & Dagenham
In Barking & Dagenham we facilitate the Barking & Dagenham Black and Asian Minority Ethnic and Refugee Forum (BAMER). The Forum meets monthly and is open to anyone living or working in the borough with an interest in better supporting local ethnic community issues.
As a result of our facilitation of the BAMER Forum we also serve on the Barking & Dagenham Community Safety Partnership, representing and providing feedback to the local public sector on issues related to community relations, race relations, and the community and voluntary sector.
RAMFEL is also a member of the Advice Providers Forum locally, where we work with Barking & Dagenham Citizen Advice Bureau to support and facilitate advice providers locally to deliver advice and support services to all sections of the local community.
You can keep up to date with our work in Barking & Dagenham by subscribing to our online newsletter.
The New Eastenders Barking & Dagenham
We also have an outreach office in Barking & Dagenham at the Ripple Centre. Please ring 020 8478 4513 for an appointment at the office.
As an outer London borough, Havering has traditionally had a small minority ethnic community. That does not however mean that there are not specific issues or concerns that do not need to be addressed.
In Havering, we facilitate the monthly Havering New Arrivals Forum, as well as run a monthly advice drop in.
Often hailed as one of the most diverse local authorities in the country, the London borough of Newham has a large minority ethnic population and a specific approach to managing local migration which means that there is a real need for close scrutiny.
Currently RAMFEL facilitates Newham Refugee and Migrant Forum, an independent organisation established to represent the needs of refugee and migrant communities and organisations locally.
The Forum currently meeting bi-monthly.
In Redbridge RAMFEL hosts:
– Redbridge Advice Forum, for all those who provide advice services in the borough
– Redbridge New Arrivals Forum , for all those interested in working with asylum seekers, migrants, refugees and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
In partnership with the Runnymede Trust we are also the local partner for the Redbridge (should this be Redbridge?) Scorecard project (see Policy and Campaigns section).
We also service on a number of other fora and groups locally including the Homeless Forum and Redbridge Police Consultative Group. We are always happy to hear your views on what you may like us to feedback at such meetings.
In Waltham Forest we facilitate the Waltham Forest New Arrivals Forum that meets monthly, to look at issues specific to asylum seekers, migrants and refugees living in Waltham Forest.
RAMFEL’s Chief Executive also serves on the Walthamstow Migrants’ Action Group.
Outside of London Essex and the South East
Where we have capacity we are also happy to take referrals for our asylum and immigration advice services from outside London and Essex.
We are also keen to work with public sector partners, and voluntary groups in areas where there is limited or no services for asylum seekers, migrants and refugees.
For 2014/2015 our priorities for Essex are Thurrock and Basildon, two areas where we have seen an increase in referrals from, and also where we know there is currently limited provision for specialist services.