Dignity not Destitution

A few of us marched under an 'Organise, Resist & Win' Banner courtesy of our friends from BARF

A few of us marched under an ‘Organise, Resist & Win’ Banner courtesy of our friends from BARF

On Saturday Members of Bristol AFed marched along side Asylum Seekers and Migrant rights organisations demanding Dignity for Asylum Seekers and an end to the policies of forced destitution and criminalisation.

The March itself was a welcome break from the norm. Vibrant and full of colour with a great mix of people amongst the 300 or so that wound their way through the streets of St Pauls and Easton before heading around Broadmead. At about 3 hours it was quite the marathon but it was broken up as it stopped for speeches at several locations, and ended with a picnic and hot food & drink dished up in Castle Park.

We heard tales of the real hardships people face; stuck in a limbo where they are unable to safely return to their home countries, prevented from working or contributing to their community, and have their access to most (in some cases all) benefits, housing and support removed. There were also inspiring tales of resistance and the great work done by the likes of Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR), City of Sanctuary, Bristol Hospitality Network and Signing Support.

Relaxing on College Green (with free food) after the March

Relaxing on College Green (with free food) after the March

It was a great chance to really act in solidarity (rather than out of charity) with the migrants who had a central role in organising and speaking at the event.  Last year this event just took place in Bristol, this week similar protests took place in seven cities across the country as the movement continues to grow in strength and numbers.

If you’d like to get involved and offer practical solidarity we suggest you get in contact with Bristol Signing Support (Email) who work with people forced to regularly sign on with home office at Trinity Road Police station, an often nerve-racking and bewildering experience to face alone. We also recommend everyone who can gets down to see ‘Listen To Our Story’, a play created and performed by BRR focusing on the stories of Asylum Seekers in Bristol. Its taking place next Monday (8th July) at the ACTA centre, tickets are only £2.

shoddily pasted together picture of the march protesting outside (and on the wall of) Trinity Road Police station

shoddily pasted together picture of the march protesting outside (and on the wall of) Trinity Road Police station (click for bigger version!)

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