A guest post from The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has developed an innovative and creative campaign ‘I am a Refugee’ that will highlight refugees’ contributions to the UK. This campaign aims to challenge emerging xenophobic rhetoric against refugees and asylum seekers by celebrating their contribution to life in the UK and aims to remind the public that those we give sanctuary to, give back in return. The campaign will be launched on 20th June for World Refugee Day, and it will build on our original ‘I am an Immigrant’ poster campaign.
The campaign will celebrate and remind the public of the contributions made by refugees by putting plaques, along the lines of the English Heritage blue plaques, up on buildings where our refugee ambassadors have lived or worked. The singer Rita Ora has already joined the campaign.
Secondly, as part of Refugee Week 2016, we will create plaques for all refugees who wish to participate in the campaign and these will be displayed in a striking art exhibition, alongside the refugee ambassadors’ plaques, during the course of the week.
To increase the scope of participation, all refugees will have the opportunity to also create their own digital plaques (to be shared and printed) through a dedicated campaign website. This will also be a platform through which additional information will be available.
This powerful visual campaign has been designed to help create a positive and balanced debate around the contribution of refugees in the UK. We hope that it will broaden public perception and continue to humanise the migration debate as refugees’ individual stories and achievements often get lost among the global popular rhetoric. Through highlighting the contributions to British society from men and women who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution, historically and in present times, it will show that when refugees are welcomed into the UK, they are able to thrive and contribute.
We have seen in recent months that shifts in public opinion can have huge consequences for government policy, but that there is still a huge amount of misinformation and unbalanced reporting in the media around refugees and forced migrants. This ranges from dismissal of the violence and terror that causes people to seek sanctuary to well-meaning but inaccurate portrayals of refugees as being entirely helpless and unable to look after themselves.
In fact refugees have historically been huge contributors to innovation, industry and culture around the world. Refugee populations are hugely diverse, with many different skills, talents and experiences and history shows that time and time again, the successful integration of refugees into a host country brings about many benefits both for the refugees themselves who have found a new home, and the country that welcomes them.
We hope that you will be willing to support us and become a part of this vital campaign which is in a particularly crucial year in light of the global refugee crisis and the UK’s EU referendum in which migration will continue to dominate.
Your support, both in terms of promotion and in any level of financial contribution, would be extremely gratefully received. Our Just Giving page can be found here. Please also get in touch if you’d like to nominate someone as a refugee ambassador, or discuss the campaign further: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that a pseudonym can be used for any refugee who wishes to be anonymous.