Politically speaking, all roads lead to the seaside at the moment, with preparations for the three main political parties’ annual conferences. This year the Lib Dems are first off in Brighton, then it is Labour in Bournemouth, followed by the Conservatives in Blackpool – which all represents a bit of a political marathon for those of us running Refugee Council events.
These aren’t just jollies to the seaside though – we will be hard at work making sure that the voices and concerns of refugees and asylum seekers are heard by the politicians, activists and media who attend the conferences. We will be running eight events across the three conferences and although most of them are within the Conference secure zone and aimed at MPs and Ministers, like last year we have some events open to the public.
Destitution is the big issue we have been campaigning on this year, and as part of Still Human Still Here, the campaign to end destitution of refused asylum seekers, we are holding a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth on 17th September at 13:00 entitled: “Still Human Still Here: the plight of destitute refused asylum seekers”. On the platform are Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesman Tim Farron MP, Lord Dholakia, Refugee Council Chief Executive Donna Covey, Director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen, and an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe who will share her experience of destitution.
We have another Still Human Still Here meeting, this time at Labour Party Conference on 26th September at 18:00. The event is a film premiere of a short documentary produced by Amnesty International for the Still Human Still Here campaign by Nick Broomfield, the well-known director and producer of last year’s film about the Chinese migrant labourers who died at Morecambe Bay: Ghosts. After the film, we have a panel discussion with Nick, Labour deputy leadership contender Jon Cruddas MP (pictured), Kate Allen and Donna Covey – plus Harris Nyatsanza, a refugee from Zimbabwe who also experienced destitution when his initial claim was turned down.
At the Conservative Conference in Blackpool we have a policy breakfast on, you guessed it, destitution! Since most of their old policies were scrapped at the start of the Cameron era, we are hoping to shape the development of their new policies relating to asylum.
So if you are going to any of the Conferences or live nearby and would like to attend an event, please let us know. You do not necessarily have to be a party member to come along. We are also looking for volunteers to help publicise the events in Bournemouth and Brighton. If you are interested in attending or volunteering, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.