You are on page 1of 2

Glasgow conference report

Academics, activists, civil society groups and politicians including Scottish Government
Minister for Europe, Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, debated the future of migrants rights after Brexit
in Glasgow on January 23, 2017. The day was followed by our cultural event with Scotlands
Makar (poet laureate), Jackie Kay.
1. Purpose of conference
The conference was organised by Migrant Voice with support from Glasgow Caledonian
University (GCU). One has been held in each city we work in, but this was the first of its kind
in Scotland. The focus was on practical ways to tackle anti-migrant sentiment and change
the political landscape. Workshops included raising peoples confidence to tackle hate crime
and xenophobia, media training, and a detailed overview of challenges facing migrant rights
from EU nationals to Syrian refugees. The conference aims to tackle migrants under-
representation in the migration debate by providing them with the skills and resources to
make their case in media and public life.
2. Opening
The keynote speech was provided by Dr Allan, with speeches also given by GCU pro-vice
chancellor James Miller, Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan and chair Habib Rahman,
and GCUs Dr Ima Jackson. Dr Allan introduced Scotlands work on migration policy, saying
Scotland has a long history of welcoming people of all nationalities and faiths, and of
supporting their integration into the Scottish way of life and recognising the vibrancy they
bring to our society and culture. Our response to the home affairs select committee
underlines that migration is key to supporting sustainable population growth. Any move to
limit migration, whether from within or beyond the EU, has the potential to seriously harm our
economy. There is robust evidence that migrants are not a drain on society and can
contribute significantly if they are given the same rights and opportunities as any other
citizen.
3. Workshops
Workshop 1: Using media tools to make our voices heard
This interactive workshop used GCU facilities to enable participants to explore different
media tools and how to use them to get their voices heard. Participants were facilitated by
the Migrant Voice communications team and provided access to a radio and TV broadcast
studio.
The group ranged from people who had some media experience to people who found it a
completely new experience. We found that whilst the idea of speaking on camera seemed
daunting at first, once people were passionate about their topic they were very happy to talk
at length, and we had a range of interesting and varied discussions. The work has been
recorded and can be edited into a podcast and/or video.
Participants were encouraged to proactively seek out media opportunities such as sending
letters to local papers, phoning in to radio stations and appearing in studio audiences.
Workshop 2: What are the challenges for migrants rights after Brexit?
This workshop explored platforms and opportunities for people to advocate for their rights
and was facilitated by Ursula Bolechowska and Remzije Sherifi of the Maryhill Integration
Network.
Participants felt they knew little about the process and impact of Brexit, but noted that the
Home Office became very strict after the referendum, increasing the overall number of
deportations by 70% - yet the general impression is that the deportations are not that
frequent. The friendliness of Scotland was noted.
People felt stories about deportations should be present more often in the media, that more
needs to be done to integrate migrants with host communities and that cooperation between
the governments, national agencies, third sector organisations and communities is crucial in
order to support migrants.
Participants agreed to publicise their stories more, and do more to support integration.
Workshop 3: Understanding and combating hate crime and xenophobia.
Hate crimes have increased, peaking at 1900 in a week last July, but have previously gone
unreported.
This workshop explored how communities can respond to hate crime effectively. It explored
issues surrounding gathering data and using it strategically, building peoples confidence
and capacity to report, and working with schools, police, and other public bodies and
stakeholders.
The workshop was supported by Victim Support and Community Safety. Participants left with
a clearer understanding of hate crime law and policy, and pledged to be active in responding
to hate crime in their communities.
Workshop 4: How to maximise your campaign impact using media and building alliances
This workshop explored how participants can campaign on different issues of migration
using media and how to gain maximum impact.
It looked at the building blocks of creating a successful campaign, including working with
allies, recruiting supporters, and using social and digital media to raise awareness and reach
people. This workshop was facilitated by The Unity Centre and Media Co-op.
Close of event
The event was rounded off with a Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) overview of open
access resources and the potential for Scottish migrants, followed by concluding remarks
from Nazek Ramadan and Migrant Voice trustee Sofi Taylor.
Immediately following this, we launched A Story in a Poem, a project which had brought
together young Glaswegians migrants and non-migrants to tell their stories via poetry.
This was opened with a reading from Jacki Kay, Scotlands Makar. It was followed by
refreshments, a dance performance from Maryhill Integration Network, and a multicultural
ceilidh with the Science Ceilidh Band.
Coverage
The conference made an impact in the Scottish press. The Herald Scotland, Evening
Express, and Press Association mentioned it, as did press releases from the Scottish
Government and from GCU. There was a BBC Scotland 6pm news segment on conference,
and another on STV, including interviews with Nazek Ramadan. On social media, our tweets
received 37.4k impressions on the day and 106 RTs, while nearly 200 people viewed the
conference livestream on Facebook.