Season’s Greetings & 2012 – Moving Forward

by Pat Elsmie, Chair of Migrants’ Rights Scotland

The last year has been a substantial one for our organization. Limited resources did not hold us back in establishing good networks in the Highlands and across the Central Belt. Deep thanks to all the committed volunteers and associates who have given freely to share their concerns, their hopes and their time, even under difficult conditions seemingly arbitrarily set in place by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency. The key message from migrants across Scotland is: “We want to be here. We do contribute and we want to continue doing so. Scotland is our home.”

The same limited resources enabled us to create a first phase communication platform at www.migrantsrightsscotland.org.uk, a hub of news and information on migration and immigration issues as well a basis for migrants to share and voice their lives, their personal stories with others, the wider community and the political powers-that-be. It links through to our Twitter page @MigRightsScot and you’ll find us on Facebook.

We have shared experiences, knowledge and skills at local, national and UK events:
Migrants’ Rights – More Than Just Talk, Migrants’ Lives in the Highlands, Migrants’ Influencing Policies: Advocacy Masterclass, Document 9 International Human Rights Film Festival, Celebrating International Migrants’ Day, Working Groups, a summer camp on Participation, and more.

We have produced blogs and reports, responded to Government consultations, produced videos of migrants expressing their views … Not to mention all the networking that happened behind the scenes. We have met with Scottish MSPs, attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration in London and other UK networking meetings.

For all this, we are grateful for the support of the Migrants’ Rights Network, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, CEMVO Scotland and ppr.

2012 – Moving Forward: Migrants taking their place in Scotland

So the tremendous journey of Migrants’ Rights Scotland continues! 2012 will need us to be responsive as the UK Government knuckles down to their idea of ‘managing migration’ in a depressed economy and the Scottish Government grows in stature and definition of Independence or of Union. These are invigorating, challenging times but the debate on migration needs to move forward. Migrants will take their place in Scotland!

Our task in the new year will be to:

Broaden understanding of migration and immigration issues and their impact on lives in Scotland, through:

• engagement with and between all stakeholders: the Scottish Parliament, the Government, public, private and voluntary sectors as well as migrants themselves, their community organizations and trade unions
• building and supporting migrant voices via communication platforms that utilize the internet, social media and other creative means
• working with migrants and migrant community organizations to increase their participation in policy-making processes
• promoting across the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and public services, the practice and use of a rights-based approach in developing and delivering policies that affect migrants’ lives

We welcome you all to join us in this! Particularly for the first part of the year, to:

• Engage with the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament to deliver progress from the baseline findings of the 2010 Inquiry report on Migration and Trafficking.
• Work towards an outreach project on a participation model for migrants’ engagement in policy processes.
• Work closely with our sister organization, the UK-wide Migrants’ Rights Network, in sharing and directing our concerns to the Westminster Government on immigration issues as they affect Scotland.

Thank you!

And with that, we hope you have a restful break over the Festive Season and we wish you success, security and fulfillment in 2012.