Abolish Reporting Campaign Launch
Wednesday 3rd of March, 6-8pm
Breakout room – notes from facilitators
On March 3rd, 2021, almost 200 people gathered online for the launch of the campaign to abolish immigration bail reporting. The event was planned and organised by a team of people who are subject to reporting, supported by workers from Migrants Organise and the These Walls Must Fall organisers from Right to Remain.
The event heard from people with experience of reporting, describing the trauma and the harassment, the demeaning nature of the system and it’s harm to people’s health, especially mental health.
The event organisers presented the proposed campaign principles, demands, outline strategy and some suggested tactics. We then split into facilitated break out rooms, to discuss further, before returning to finalise and agree some ways forward. Read on, for notes of the breakout rooms.
N.B: Initials have been used to anonymise participants and protect confidentiality
Break out room 1
Facilitator: Maggy, TWMF
L: She is a student and did not have any idea how the asylum process works,she was shocked and embarrassed that the British government does this to people who are seeking sanctuary.
A : Was detained in 2009 for 4 months, “it was a horrible experience that I am fighting to erase until this day, I was treated worse than a prisoner. I was struggling with communication and didn’t know what my rights were” She was then released and moved to a different location to where she was living before. Everytime she had to go for signing those memories would come ,she would get sick and have panic attacks. At a later stage she was again detained for 3 days. “This is not life. I cannot continue living like this ,please I am asking for action to be taken against these Reporting and they should be taken a.s.a.p. after hearing the testimonials I got to understand I am not the only one living under these inhuman conditions”
V.J: She has been a teacher for 20years and she got learn about how migrants are treated by Home Office through her students, she thought it was bad “but what is happening now is actually horrendous and sickening” She is also involved with ASSIST and SYMAG and she is committed in supporting this campaign and she will also share our campaign with friends.
N: It has been 3years since she did her main interview, she has never had anything from home office since then and yet she is required to be going for reporting every month. She lives in fear that she may be detained everytime she goes for signing.
A: Came to support this campaign even though she is not reporting, she has a friend that reports ,(who was in another break out room) and she always takes care of the friend’s baby but her fear is that her friend might not come back home one day and she will be left with that baby. She encouraged people to be fully involved in this campaign and it will be a shame not to hear from us anymore. She believes that we will bring change and if that won’t happen as the Home Office is stubborn at least we would have tried.
Breakout room 2
Facilitator: Vee, These Walls Must Fall
N from Liverpool (freedvoices/TWMF Liverpool): Lobby MPs We should narrow it to why we want them to support the campaign, It is important to make it look as we are protecting the taxpayers money, As we can see how far the taxpayer react seeing them shouting and complaining and feeling like the migrants in hotels are in 5 stars hotels and are protesting against them that they are coming to take money meant for other things. Which we all know is not fit for purpose.
Our point and strategy to show how much it cost HO to get people to report and this cost on taxpayers.
Because the HO will say is because migrants are danger to people they don’t know them is the reason why they’re sending them for reporting.( We will come with arguments of you release them in the first place so why saying there are danger to others).
We should make sure we are not just using Covid but for all the time because again the HO will come with the road mad for Covid and it is safe for reporting, there is nothing bad in it.
M Wast Manchester (Congo):
Good idea to abolish reporting We go to sign while in lockdown and it is dangerous, they know our address and phone numbers and they know our numbers as they send us messages for reminders so why go there? We need to join force as my bro has said stop reporting.
N, TWMF West Yorkshire: I am not reporting but I have heard a lot of people talking about reporting which is not good. During the first lockdown I heard people could report over phone and it work so why going to report at they have every means to reach out to us, we are here and we here for protection where can we run to? they should stop it, we can’t run after we have come here for protection.
F, VVIDY TWMF South Yorkshire: I have the experience and I have been reporting since 17years and I have never fail reporting they know us all and even phone because they remind me that go for reporting. I am destitute, I don’t get money and I have to go reporting. Anytime after am going I take my stu because I may not come back, it is stressful and make me want to do something illegal but I am not a bad person and is very bad.
We all need to take action to make this change , we came for protection and not criminal so not to go through suffering, we are human beings and need to be treated like one We need to go to MP to make them help us we are not bad. HO with these has send so many to end up bad on drugs. HO has sent them to the street
PN, Manchester: Share audio about migrants mental health, share on social media so people know and support it, we really need them to know this things are for real so they can support the campaign, I am not reporting and have my refugee status but need to take this to all my contacts and ask them to support us.
Breakout Room 12
Facilitator: May, TWMF
We can share this campaign the links we have will make it powerful.
It’s a really good start – diff organisations coming together but united by people who have experience of the problems affecting lots of us – everyone who’s affected.
Speaking up is powerful. It’s also difficult and affects many of us, we need to take care of ourselves (and sometimes we need to step out because of the strain we are under) Enough is enough. We’ve been doing demos, speaking with MPs – even our politicians don’t understand the issues that affect us, this needs to change, people need to get educated. We used to come together on demos but let us use this opportunity – the technology can help us – getting a celebrity is good, but getting someone with experience to speak is more valuable – let us not wait for people – let’s do the videos, and put ourselves forward.
Let us not wait for the orgs to lead us – we are enough – a lot of people if we come together.
Action speaks louder than words – no one is going to stand for us – we have the platform and we should use it.
Thank you to people who are making the space to give us this platform – we must take it serious
- Share videos of what we discussed in different languages?
- Share via whatsapp Power Mapping – who’s the person who’s going to make impact – let’s not go straight to boris Johnson
- People’s experiences should be documented somewhere so that people can know where to look and share: youtube channel?
- People with influence should speak out, e.g. Marcus Rashford.
- Writing to MPs People who have status can campaign for others.
- Translate the minutes into other languages and share
Breakout room 3
Facilitator: Maymuna, Migrants Organise
B.M: Under reported issue and important campaign!! Winnable issue The group asked about the proportion of people that currently report to police centres? None.
Visual map of reporting centres would be useful!
B. – his union branch will pay dues for asylum seekers who want to join – he has sent details to May TWMF. Can help with publicity for Abolish Reporting campaign through the union. Suggestion to approach other trade unions for support.
B.M: got 6 unions to join stop detention campaign in the 70s and think this is a good idea to grow support/ resources for this campaign. Liberty and other orgs like them- can we get them to support? Also encourage MPs that are supportive of this campaign to join up together to form MP campaigning group for #AbolishReporting.
We need more evidence and testimonies from people required to report (Maymuna let the group know that there will be a digital platform for people to submit testimony confidentially coming soon)
Breakout Room 4
Facilitator: Brian, Migrants Organise
9 people in the group
C – shows how wide an issue this is. Individuals who went Raising the issue and highlighting the cost as we seen with most issue, you get to be heard once you start growing in numbers.
HO create atmosphere of fear which silence people too scared to challenge the people. Let everyone be aware of right or wrong Providing facilities to raise these issues.
K. – Campaign to show that it’s a lucrative business
J. from STAR – How do we call out companies who are profiting soo much?
C. – the media – raising to local MPs. Firms are worried about negative portrayal in the media.
K. – Coalition of other organisations, – showing solidarity – maybe people can wear a badge when they report? So HO knows that if they mess with that person we will come for them.
Brian – re Firms: all infos on companies are publicly available – we should get accountants and auditors on board
Breakout Room 5
Q1. Be all together, raise voices
Raise awareness to general public so people can know realities – get support from external people
Let them know how it feels to report
Make changes through campaigns Support people: forming a group to go physically there – British people for example might not be afraid of the system and could help people feel less alone
Note: in Loughborough people do this, meet people at reporting centre and help them through
Digital platforms: create more space for young people
Create spaces on Facebook, Twitter to see these campaigns Hands-on approach to Home Office; bypass the minister approach Boris Johnson directly;
Illogical to report while supposed to be on lockdown: asylum seekers exposing themselves and others
Cannot go to GP to get a letter
Approach Home Office directly to force an end to in-person reporting; ask for phone reporting and give them the tools (phones, laptops, data, etc.)
Email or text message
Waste of money which should be used to fund people who have no money
Two people expressed support for demands
Mental health issues: people who have PTSD;
*** trigger warning ***
some people have committed or are considering suicide because of reporting Could suggest something like providing an alternative; if people are getting support services they are recorded by location and don’t need to report – they can be accounted for, so what’s the point of reporting?
- Could have a way to track others to make sure they’re still in the country?
- Allow people to help each other openly without fear
- Note that many factors trigger others – challenging procedures and protocol
- Day of action could include a petition – deliver it in person?
- Goal to link with academics at universities: can push our agenda nationally and globally?
Breakout room 6
D&P: A friend we know well was seeking for asylum for 16 years, one day went for reporting and he was taken to a detention centre, we actually saw that we had to return to his country of origin. he was middle of a asylum seeking process so they have no right to do it, absolutely no right to do it. so we went down to see him the next day after got detained and we were shocked, it is a detention centre but more like a prison. it was very close to our house. I am really please there is a group of people trying to do something about this and I think it’s horrific. this campaign really exiting for us. we are meeting tomorrow with a group of people who do asylum seeking support we’ll make sure that will tell them about this group, also our church member, family & friends. briefly people do not know absolutely do not know when I mention to people I work with, they have no idea what this kind of underground stuff is and how terrible it is they are shocked.
R. from Sheffield (Assist Sheffield): Over the years we are supporting for asylum seekers for their reporting requirements at local reporting centre I done it myself by accompany them for their reporting appointments, and visited many people in detention centres after they being arrested including once at Gatwick airport where the person I visited due to be deported in the next day. so many times we find ourself unable to get people out because the home office not behaving well and correctly. many people I accompanied for reporting they have severe mental stress on them, and it’s very clear the days leading upto reporting they are really going more and more nervous about it. many of our volunteers in our organisation have taken people for reporting they were very distressed when person they taken has been arrested and detain.fortunately i never had that experience. some of the new volunteers they go and it happened first time their visit and it’s really traumatising for them. despite that we go & visit families in these centres. few people here tonight that we visited in detention centers in the past and now they got leave to remain. I am very keen about These Walls Must Fall campaign, we had in mind that it was really about alternative to detention but of course altenative to reporting something equally important campaign to have. we actually had a meeting once with the regional manager of the home office to complain about serious interrogation by home office staff behind counters when people went to reporting hoping there would be some conciliation but there was not at the time. rather she said, because we are doing this now it’s all part of the hostile environment as Teresa May announced, there are more thing coming as a pipe line. one of the things we done over the years to take asylum seekers who are going through these experiences to places where they can speak. they explain their experiences we found that it is been very attractive. we have taken them to churches and also taken them to schools, spoken to children in the classes and teachers. it’s been very useful doing that kind of thing. we found it effective by taking people experiencing these difficulties rather we go and talk to people.
C. from Liverpool (Solidarity Knows No Borders Merseyside & These Walls Must Fall): I have been living in Liverpool for now 17.5 years been in the system since 2014, and I go to reporting every month but last time went was last year February and not gone to reporting since because my doctor gave a letter saying that I am vulnerable and shielding so home office have accepted that so not going for reporting therefore. I know it is very stressful and you don’t have a life when you are an asylum seeker. you can’t plan anything, you can’t do anything because you never know when you got to reporting what’s going to happen, so it’s very hard. These Walls Must Fall we are campaigning to end all detention centres and now will be joining with Abolish Reporting campaign.
R.H (immigration lawyer): I am an immegration solicitor so I’m coming at this from a slightly different angle, it’s really great to hear everybody’s contributions in this group and also I think I would echo Richard has just said I think it’s really good that this campaign is like a grassroot campaign and it’s giving people a voice to speak about their experiences, so I think it’s great that people are able to articulate it far better than somebody else trying to maybe summarise your experience. there’s no need to summarise anything that been said, I think everybody gave a different angle this evening in terms of the people who are speaking in the main section, and I think it’s really important to kind of link up all the groups in that way. I think the only thing would say on sort of practical viewpoint because I think we all now from our different experience, but the home office got a lot of power, and I would say it’s good to approach this from different angles, so I think the awareness raising very important. but I don’t think being realistic on it’s own is enough to change the system. because you know the home office has these powers and they had them for a long time they’ll continue to exercise them. It is a really good time to do this now and I think also a potential to say let’s look we we have had a nearly a year now, although some people had to report and a lot of people have had not to report. it will be really interesting to try and get evidence and say have been any increase in people are absconding, because home office justification for reporting is all about people keeping in contact and if they don’t keep in contact they going to abscond. a lot of people speaking tonight showed that’s not really the case at all, people report for years and years do not go anywhere, even if they wanted to most people can’t go anywhere they don’t have the resources to do so. I just think that would be one suggestion to use that empirical evidence as an argument as well. I believe to be honest you cannot rely on moral outrage arguments alone, because unfortunately the state has power to do all sorts of things.
M. from Manchester (organisation – These Walls Must Fall): I am M from These Walls Must Fall campaign in Manchester. I agree with everyone what’s being said, and also agree with Richard what he said. I appreciate what Richard is doing and you know what’s is happening in the asylum system. people need support because they don’t know how to support themselves when they are in situation like this. So I thank you all for what you are doing around this.
Mannety (co-facilitator with Dinesh): People shared how it’s very important to share this awareness with the community because many people are not aware of what’s really happening.a lawyer by the name R.H she suggested that during this pandemic some people are not reporting but still they are not absconding that can be added as an argument.
Breakout room 7
We had a very constructive discussion with the audience, most of them were victims of a reporting system. All agreed on the demands especially the one to get reporting abolished.
One lady from Scotland suggested that it is better we ask for reforms rather than abolishment because the government might not change its reporting policy.
The other gentleman raised a point that the government should abolish the in person reporting because it is hush and cost the government a lot of money. It should be abolished to save tax payer’s money.
We ran out of time as the discussions were starting to hot up.
Breakout room 8
The feed back I got from the breakout room was as follows. Ppl are scared of signing/reporting cause it comes with risk of being detained some are homeless and still have to go to sign/ report and have no fix abode and no money to get to the reporting center, other have mostly said what is the next line of action after the third of March as they want to know what happens onwards. A change is urgently needed.
Breakout room 9
Focus mainly on spreading the word i.e., via use of social media platforms and other organisations. It was noticed that this campaign had not somehow reached far enough. Writing petitions through change.org and actioning the MP letters. No time to wait.
Strongly encourage those who have been granted status to step up and strongly participate in the campaign, protesting openly and stating that they are giving back to the community in their testimonials.
Gather more testimonials from the vulnerable people with children and medical health challenges demonstrating how the issue of reporting affected them.
Target health care sector who are left dealing with the consequences.
Breakout room 10
The following are the opinions and suggestions from the participants:
Singing can be done to the nearest Police station.
Through technology I.e., mobile as they can track through Aspen card as when someone withdraws money they know from which city/location it has been used and if it is used in Manchester instead of Liverpool the person gets warning, and his payment is stopped.
By word of mouth to aware the public as much as you can.
Each person must carry his own cross and should spread the word as far as they can, if they don’t, they are creating problems for themselves and others.
There should be a road map about abolishing reporting.
All the orgs should join hands as they are doing the same thing and form a Trade Union of Organizations like other orgs has done and then we all have more power as we all be united.
Every person on reporting should encourage others on singing to highlight their problems with locals and NGO’s.