NACCOM’s Director, Bridget Young, shares our priorities for the year ahead:
As we roll our sleeves up and settle into January 2022, NACCOM stands strong and united as a network of 142 member organisations committed to working together to end destitution in the asylum and immigration system across all four nations of the UK.
The first sobering reminder of the challenges that lie ahead of us this year came as soon as January 5th, when the Nationality and Borders Bill was debated in the House of Lords. Whilst it was heartening to hear so much support in the Lords for scrapping some of the most harmful aspects of the bill,it also underlined just how punitive and divisive the Government’s approach to refugee protection has become. The hostile legislative changes proposed by the Bill are sure to push more people than ever before into hardship and destitution because of their immigration status. If the Bill is passed, it will represent the biggest overhaul of the asylum system in generations and a key priority for us this year will be to work with members, partners and people with lived experience of destitution to understand the far-reaching implications and identify appropriate support measures.
Despite this upheaval and whatever the outcomes, our members will continue their work in communities across the UK, providing vital pathways out of destitution and empowering people to resolve their immigration status and rebuild their lives.
To support members with this, NACCOM will focus on some key, interlinked, priority areas this year;
Launching our new Strategy: In Spring 2022 we will launch our new Strategy, which concludes a thorough consultation process and builds on the excellent work of the NACCOM team over the last six years. The Strategy will further cement our unique role in the sector supporting such a wide, diverse and powerful network and ensure that our work with people who have lived experience of destitution and the asylum system is at the heart of how we operate.
Meeting the changing needs of our members: Central to every aspect of NACCOM’s work is understanding what our members want from us as a membership network and delivering innovative and effective solutions to meet their needs. Our participation in the Design Lab programme, funded by the National Lottery, will enable us to explore how best we can support our members as the network continues to grow.
Understanding the impact of destitution: In 2021NACCOM’s Community Researcher Group was established to provide a space for people with lived experience of immigration control to research, analyse and present solutions to destitution in our communities. The group will continue to develop their research programme in 2022 and their findings will help shape our work throughout the year. We will also work with the Researchers to find appropriate ways to share both their research outputs and learning from their participation in the programme across the network and externally.
Continuing our data journey: Looking at more effective ways to capture data that shows the true scale of asylum destitution across the network and the impact of our collective work, and exploring the most effective use of data in order to bring about change to end destitution, is a key area of development for us.
Campaigning for a fairer, more humane asylum system: Ourresearch, policy and advocacy work is rooted in the evidence and needs of our network and in the role NACCOM has to play in the movement to disrupt and end destitution in the asylum and wider immigration system. We will continue to work in partnership to campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill, as well as working with members to identify opportunities to push for change at local, regional and national levels on asylum, immigration and homelessness issues.
Building wellbeing and anti-racist practice into all that we do: This year we will continue to explore and reflect on how to effectively and meaningfully build wellbeing and anti-racist practice into our work as individuals, as an organisation and as a network, sharing learning and insights as we go.
The challenges may be great, but we look forward to meeting them together, and have no doubt that the network will continue to be an important and powerful tool for change this year.