Surviving the UK’s asylum/immigration system isn’t easy. Whether people are granted the right to remain or not, many people are scarred by the experience of trying to establish their rights in a bewildering, isolating and harmful process.
We don’t think that people should go through that alone.
We believe that with people standing by your side, you are stronger, more confident and better informed to access justice and establish your legal rights, and be protected from the harm of the system.
That’s why we love these songs so much. They embody everything our work is about. Solidarity, self-help, mutual aid.
It’s about navigating, surviving the legal process and campaigning for change, trying to end the destructive policies that harm people and divide communities.
The two songs featured here are performed by the MaMa choir in Liverpool:
“We are MAMA, migrant artists mutual aid, an organization that brings together migrants in crisis. We come together in a group of mainly women asylum seekers who feel themselves under threat of removal from the UK. Together we try to explore options of campaigning, highlighting some of the injustices of the UK asylum system, and we give each other support and solidarity.”
Understanding the asylum and immigration system is more important than ever. Cuts to legal aid (free, government-funded legal representation) mean that more and more people have no lawyer at all and are forced to navigate this very complicated system without legal representation.
For those seeking the right to remain, it’s vital to understand your own legal case even if you have a lawyer. This is your case and your life. That’s why we produced the Right to Remain Toolkit – a guide to navigating the process, and taking positive action in your case.
With people standing by you in solidarity, you are more likely to be able to keep going, and keep fighting for justice in your case.
Every week, we witness the amazing solidarity of grassroots community groups across the UK.
Groups like MaMa, whose choir provides a way to come together, to bond, to heal and to transform people’s minds. The combination of emotional support and practical action is essential – coming together every week to break bread together and stay strong together, but also accompanying group members to their asylum appeals, supporting people through refusals, advocating with lawyers and local MPs, raising money for legal fees.
As a group, members can support each and nurture each other. If one member is having a crisis, others can be there for them. One group member may be the brilliant cook that makes group meetings a joyous occasion, another may have the computer skills to find a human rights report someone needs for their legal case, or is good at explaining the legal jargon a lawyer has used in terms a non-lawyer can understand. Some group members may be able to hold the distress and fear of someone who has just received a refusal, another may be able to look after someone’s kids while they go to court to appeal that refusal.
More minds, more hearts, more strength. This is what solidarity sounds like: