Come Together – A short report on this year’s Migrant Voice Conference in London

Last weekend, Lian attended the conference, ‘From Monologue to Dialogue; Strengthening and hearing migrants’ voices in the debate on migration’, organized by Migrant Voice, in London.  In this blog, she reports back from the conference and shares the inspiration and energy she experienced during the two days. 

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By Lian Kim Selby

Lian Kim Selby is currently studying International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, and interns at Migrants’ Rights Scotland. An American from Singapore now living in Scotland, she takes keen interest in issues of migration and human rights.

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This last weekend I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to represent Migrants’ Rights Scotland at a conference, ‘From Monologue to Dialogue; Strengthening and hearing migrants’ voices in the debate on migration’ organized by Migrant Voice, an organization that aims to mobilise migrants who are concerned about the way their communities are portrayed by the media to engage in positively influencing the immigration debate and changing public attitude. The conference involved a number of different organizations primarily from the cities of London, Birmingham and Glasgow, but also featured organizations from Manchester and even a representative from Malta. We attended workshops led by organizations that were using various mediums such as youtube and even theatre to raise awareness of the views, experiences, and plight of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. We also participated in panel discussions featuring accomplished journalists and representatives from public media organizations that explained the best ways to increase the visibility of organizations like ours, raise awareness of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in our communities, and how to use such mediums to our best advantage.

It was an enriching experience and invigorated me to want to become even more active in using various media platforms to raise awareness of the difficulties that migrants and refugees in the United Kingdom face, whilst also utilizing such platforms to provide information for such people.

On the final day, we formed groups of 15-20 people and discussed actions plans- for us as individuals, for our organizations and for the Migrant Voice community and network as a whole. It was incredibly inspiring to hear about the new plans that each representative had envisioned. One delegate from Birmingham discussed a youth initiative that his organization intended to implement in Birmingham, to create more cultural events to foster awareness of the cultures and customs of migrants living in the United Kingdom. Others also agreed to hold regular meetings with journalists. Many other new ideas and initiatives were put forward and discussed. As each individual said ‘I will…’ and laid out their various action plans with such intent, you could feel such a vibrant energy in the room, of people feeling inspired and energized to go back to their organizations and communities to put these plans into action.

The conference demonstrated to me the power of inspiration and encouragement that stems from the act of people coming together for a purpose. Members of migrant and refugee organizations should continue to initiate the coming together of various organizations to build on a collective identity, one that I felt was very much in the making during the conference. It gives each organization the opportunity to hear about the initiatives and work of other organizations around the United Kingdom, it gives people a chance to network, and more importantly, it allows and assures that all organizations are collectively heading in the same direction.

With the joining of forces to strengthen a collective will, great change can be made in society if we all ‘come together’. The Beatles could not have said it better…