The dialogue and reporting on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers can paint a picture of an insurmountable issue. The migrant crisis is without doubt one of the most pressing concerns of our time, yet the discourse around these groups can be confusing, and at its worst deliberately toxic, divisive and misleading. To appreciate the challenges and needs of these people, we need to look beyond the headlines and rhetoric, and understand the lives behind the labels that are used.
I believe that people like me – professionals who have resources, skills and networks to make a difference – have a responsibility to help make a positive change. That’s why Women for Change, a forum for those who want to make a positive social impact, will focus our next event on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. By using our skills, resources and networks, we can help support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, committing to a series of small changes that add up to a big difference.
From articles on the migrant population in Calais to politicians talking about refugees, we see and hear the terms migrants, refugees and asylum seekers every day. But do we really understand what they mean? The way these groups are spoken and written about has major implications, particularly in the current climate of political and societal change in the wake of the EU referendum. Indeed, a recent report by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found that ‘divisive’ and ‘anti-immigrant’ rhetoric by UK politicians during the EU referendum helped to fuel a spike in race hate crimes in the weeks before and after the vote.
Against this backdrop, it is crucial that we understand the significance of the words we use and appreciate the complex human stories behind them. At the Women for Change event on 5th October at Kingsway Hall Hotel in London, experts from the British Red Cross, SAWA for Development and Aid, Migrants Organise and Asylum Aid will bring clarity and insight to what it means to be a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker. By discussing the issues each group faces and how best to support them, attendees will be able to identify areas where they can make a meaningful contribution. They will have the opportunity to commit to a specific action to support organisations working in the sector in a way that best uses their skills, resources and time. This could mean volunteering pro-bono consulting time, becoming a board member at newly formed NGO, mentoring or providing financial support.
The event is part of the series of Women for Change breakfast panels to educate and inspire women to make a positive difference. Previous events have focused on human trafficking, violence against women, driving social change in businesses and climate change. Through collaboration and collective action, we want to support women to make a positive difference.
There is no doubt that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers face wide ranging challenges. But change is possible. Successful small contributions can result in a substantial impact. If you want to use your skills and resources to help make a real change, find out more about joining Women for Change and sign up to attend our event.
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Women for Change is a project led by Shiva Foundation, an independent UK charity working to prevent human trafficking and slavery in the UK.