Civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti will today (30 November) award refugees who have this year campaigned to improve the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, at a Refugee Council event in Brixton, London.
Chakrabarti will address the group of 18 refugees from London have spent the last six months launching their own campaigns on behalf of their community organisations to tackle a variety of social problems such as poverty and destitution of asylum seekers, youth violence and gang crime in London, and domestic violence. They also campaigned for positive change, such as engaging refugees in the political process and improving education opportunities for refugee women.
The event is the culmination of the innovative Refugee Empowerment Project, funded by the Trust for London, which provided training and mentoring support to refugees to run grassroots campaigns on behalf of their community organisations in London. The group were encouraged to engage politicians and the media in order to influence changes in their communities.
Some highlights from the campaigns included:
– A Facebook campaign created by and for young Kosovar Albanian refugees to combat violence and gang crime in London, following the London riots.
– Directly lobbying immigration minister Damian Green about a payment card for asylum seekers that is causing poverty and hardship at the Conservative Party Conference. He pledged to review the system.
– A cross party training event to ensure 80 refugees in London know their rights to vote and can participate in the political process, attended by MPs, including Tom Brake and Jeremy Corbyn.
– Panel discussion and screening of a short film about the asylum system and destitution at Amnesty International UK in London.
– Screening of a short film about the prevention of domestic violence within African communities at the Houses of Parliament
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of civil rights organisation Liberty, said:
It’s inspiring to see such enthusiasm and passion from campaigners working to improve the lives of asylum seekers in the UK – long may it continue. Campaigning successes are only possible when people come together and today is a great example of what can be achieved if the will is there.”
Remzije Duli, from British Albanian Kosovar Council, one of the refugee campaigners said: I feel these 6 months have given me more insight into life than any other period in my life. So as a result I feel a lot stronger and certainly more empowered and this is greatly to the support that I received from the Refugee Empowerment Project and especially the support from Jaime Gill, my mentor.”