On 9th April, the BBC News website published “Election 2015: Campaign seeks to put pro-immigration case”, an article describing an election campaign based on the migrant population´s contribution to the UK.
As a consequence of the rising arguments putting pressure on immigrants and their impact on public services during the current general elections campaign, the nonprofit organization Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has launched the “I am an immigrant” campaign. This campaign is made up of first hand messages on the immigrant’s contributions to the British society, specifically to the welfare system.
The JCWI is spreading the campaign nation–wide, using real migrants’ pictures and their own experiences as workers and citizens. It is designed under an encouraging premise: “Our campaign seeks to challenge the negative rhetoric against immigrants, celebrate them and provide them with a platform to share their story.”
The BBC article interviewed the people who are the faces of the campaign including Mr Chelvan, who arrived in the UK from Sri Lanka. He said “the reason for this is that various political parties felt they were losing the debate on Europe on other issues, so migration is the easiest way of opening the anti-Europe debate”. Mr Chelvan says many of those who are against immigration “fear difference” and often blame migrants.
Saira Grant, legal and policy director at the JCWI stated that their campaign is not party political, but argues “it is absolutely ridiculous for parties to put a specific cap on net migration”.
In the framework of the Shared Societies Project, we are convinced that initiatives directed at embracing diversity and cultural identities have a particularly crucial part in societies where negative stereotypes and fear of strangers are being used to gain political advantage. Steps such as the one explored in the article encourage respect and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, and understanding of the contribution that diversity can bring – basic premises in building social cohesion.