Campaign coalition One Strong Voice has partnered with Ben and Jerry’s to give home secretary Suella Braverman an advent calendar with a difference. Instead of treats, every door in the One Strong Dream calendar reveals a message from a refugee or a person seeking asylum about their hopes for the future.
One Strong Voice is the UK’s first coalition of refugee and migrant campaigners, and feels it is imperative that the government listens to the experiences of people who have navigated the immigration system to build a fairer system and a more welcoming country.
Here is the dream 1 from the advent calendar with a difference done jointly with our friends at @benandjerrysUK 🧡
Stay tuned for the dream 2 tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/mm2XIC0Mwh
— One Strong Voice 🧡 (@1StrongVoice) December 1, 2022
So far the dreams have included…
Behind one door a person had written: “My dream is for all refugee children fleeing persecution and danger to find comfort and warmth when they arrive.”
Another person’s wish was to lift the ban on people seeking asylum’s right to work in the UK. It said: “I dream of a future where I can actualise my dreams and use my skills. Where instead of fading away, I have the right to work and have financial freedom. Where I can afford to buy the food I love which reminds me of where I grew up.”
Several others highlighted that no person seeking asylum is illegal. Door 3 contains the message: “We dream that people are able to access refugee protection no matter how they arrived here.”
Refugees are protected under international law. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention defines a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion”.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has argued that refugees are therefore “clearly defined under international and regional refugee law, and states have agreed to a well-defined and specific set of legal obligations towards them”. The UK is party to the convention and its 1967 protocol.
Other doors highlight the need for understanding from the government that seeking refuge and leaving your home is an act of survival. Door 5 says: “I dream of a time when refugees feel welcome in the UK and when governments understand that when people choose to trust the sea, to belong to everywhere but not to home, to be displaced, and yet unplaced at the same time, they are only choosing to survive.”
Echoing this message is Door 8, which calls for the end of stigma attached to people seeking asylum as being economic migrants: “I dream of a world where lies about people seeking safety are taboo, and people everywhere treat each other with respect, love, dignity and compassion.”
Almost three-quarters of asylum claims in the UK were granted refugee status or humanitarian protection at the initial decision stage in the last year. Refusals for asylum claims have gone down by 98%. Braverman was recently criticised for her comments implying that asylum seekers crossing the Channel were not genuine. She said: “Let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress.”
It has encouraged groups to share their hopes for the future
Community groups have joined the conversation and added their own hopes for the future. RAS Voice, a group of refugees and asylum seekers who are campaigning to change the asylum system in the UK, said: “We dream of a time where people seeking safety have the right to work whilst waiting for asylum decisions.”
It’s not the only gift Conservative MPs have received this year…
One Strong Voice recently presented Conservative party MPs and members with one-way tickets to Rwanda in an act of solidarity and activism.
The UK government wants to send people like us on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
So we've printed them their own one-way tickets & handed them out at the Tory Party Conference.
Like & RT to spread our message. pic.twitter.com/9yvzP3xSGo
— One Strong Voice 🧡 (@1StrongVoice) October 4, 2022
Jonathan, Mimi and Ana from One Strong Voice presented attendees with one-way tickets to Rwanda in protest of the government’s potentially ‘unlawful’ policy to send asylum seekers to the African country.
So far no refugees have been sent there, as the first flights were stopped with the help of dedicated asylum lawyers and later by the European Court of Human Rights, which stated that the removal of one claimant should be halted.
Thousands of people are detained in ‘inhumane’ conditions every year
In the UK, thousands of people are held in immigration detention every year under immigration powers in ‘prison-like’ conditions. At the end of June 2022, there were 2,038 people in immigration detention, including those detained under immigration powers in prison, close to three times more than at the end of June 2020.
Mimi said: “Over the years, detention has become an administrative tool just to hold people, and not that they are going to be deported or sent back to their countries. And they’re just held there for months and even years. The reality is that most of these people end up being released back into the community, completely traumatised, and it has a huge impact on their general life.”
Stay up to date with the One Strong Dream Campaign here.