Hazel Williams, NACCOM’s National Director, reflects on the damaging impact of racism within the UK’s immigration system, and underlines NACCOM’s commitment to being an anti-racist organisation, through our work, policies and practices.
NACCOM’s full statement on our anti-racism commitment:
The Black Lives Matter protests of the last few weeks have been a rallying cry for us all to pause, reflect on, and take action against, the structural, political and institutional racism that is endemic in the UK.
As an organisation that exists to end destitution amongst those seeking asylum and migrants with no recourse to public funds, and to challenge Government policies that make destitution an inevitable and intended consequence of immigration policy for certain groups, NACCOM stands in solidarity with those who fight against racism in all its forms. We hope this statement goes some way in setting out our values and commitments in relation to tackling racism.
We understand that the UK’s immigration system is born of racist and colonial legacies that continue to oppress people of colour today. We recognise that the basis for the Government’s ongoing Hostile Environment policy, which includes enforced destitution, is firmly rooted in our colonial past and the structural racism which permeates throughout our politics, economy, legislation, society and even the organisations which are set up to prevent injustices. It is this structural racism that re-affirms and legitimises the unequal treatment of people of colour.
The real world impact of this is all too apparent today in the racial inequality that the current Covid-19 pandemic has exposed, evidenced by the disproportionate number of deaths from Black and ethnic minority communities, and the recent Windrush scandal that subjected Black people to wrongful detention and deportation at the hands of the Hostile Environment.
We also recognise that as an organisation we have much to learn, develop and improve upon, and that this is an open-ended process. At times as an organisation we have lacked the courage to tackle this issue head on. As a charity working in the refugee and migration sector, neither should we be complacent that the nature of our work makes us exempt from actively looking at ways in which we can do better at tackling racism.
Over recent years we have been working to ensure that people who have experienced destitution have their voices elevated and can be part of our advocacy work, and that ultimately there is a shift in power to people who have lived experience of destitution. Doing this work meaningfully has been challenging, we have made mistakes and we know we have much to improve upon.
The actions we are currently taking and planning to take include:
- Providing anti-racist training to our members
- Providing training to our members on ways in which they can improve the way they involve people with lived experience to shape their services.
- Facilitate the sharing of learning between members on how to support their own staff and volunteers and create inclusive and diverse workplaces
- Fairly, and appropriately positively reimbursing people with lived experience for their time inputting into consultations and campaigning
- Listening to and joining with campaigns led by people with lived experience of destitution
- Ensuring that when we meet with policy makers and politicians, people with lived experience of destitution are represented at those meetings as much as possible.
- Facilitating better public understanding of the issues experienced by people seeking asylum, refugees and people with no recourse to public funds.
- Ensuring that our board comprises of at least 20% of people who have experience of immigration control and/or homelessness and they are properly supported and trained to enable them to carry out their role.
- Reviewing our recruitment policy and procedures to increase applications from and appointments of people with lived experience of the immigration system.
NACCOM Staff and Trustees, 16th June 2020