English classes: the key to integration

by Dr Jenny Philimore For many years now politicians and the tabloids have pointed to so-called self-segregation of migrants and their alleged reluctance to speak English as responsible for their lack of integration into economy and society in the UK. As a result much policy focus has been placed on trying to encourage cross-community connections and linking applications for citizenship to ability to speak English. New research from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham, and the University of Cardiff provides evidence showing that for refugees at least, there is no reality behind the rhetoric. Using survey data – the [more]

Latin American Regimes

  An overview of a troubled past   By Tania Farias “From the deep crucible of the homeland. The people's voices rise up. The new day comes over the horizon. All Chile breaks out in song…” claims the first verse of We Will Triumph, a supporting song for the Popular Unity coalition led by Salvador Allende in Chile. According to the Revolutionary Democracy journal (2003) the Chilean songwriter and activist Víctor Jara sang this song defiantly after having been violently tortured in the Chilean Stadium (renamed later Víctor Jara Stadium). He had been arrested – and five days later assassinated - because of his [more]

Asylum seeker pregnancy: a very sad situation

By Tania Farias Pregnancy is a very special state for a woman, one which requires complex and specialist care to assure the well–being of both, the mother and the unborn child. Pregnancy is also a time to share and be cheerful with family and friends. However, not every woman can enjoy such a protective support and some of them are exposed to very unstable situations. A pregnant asylum seeker under the support of sections 4, 95 or 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will be offered accommodation and financial support but she won’t be exempt from UKBA dispersal policies, meaning [more]

Reflections: Through the eyes of a refugee

By Mercedes What do I hear when I listen to the city, when I look to the future in this place that surrounds me? I see a neighbourhood of multiple languages, cultures, sounds, and fragrances. I see a woman wishing to tell the city that she and her child crossed the ocean and several continents to feel secure. She did not want to hear the screams of people running from the effects of war, hunger and disease. She wants to explain that she doesn’t understand what happened. Her town was peaceful before the modern tanks and men in strange clothes speaking strange [more]

Each journey entails a hundred possibilities

By Kate Monkhouse Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) works with refugees and other forcibly displaced people, promoting their rights and providing a range of direct services. In London, JRS UK runs a weekly day centre at its base in Wapping, where each week up to 120 refugees come for lunch, some practical help and to share the joys and sadness of life in this country. In carrying out its activities JRS UK works in partnership with like-minded organisations, such as English PEN, a free speech and literature charity that campaigns to defend and promote free expression. English PEN’s trainers have run several creative [more]

From Sri Lanka With Surgical Skills

Vicky Ilankovan interviews her father Since I was eight I wanted to be a doctor. I still remember using pencils as injection cylinders and giving people sachets of powder from the kitchen to make them feel better. The concept of doing something to help people has always fascinated me. However, the year that I was to enter medical school in Sri Lanka was the year the policy of standardisation came into force. This meant that Tamils needed substantially higher marks than Sinhalese in order to get into university. For example, Tamils needed 250 points to get into medical school whereas the Sinhalese [more]


A golden opportunity

By Gary Buswell

Among the many positives of the Olympics this summer was the noticeable change of tone around reporting of migrants in the mainstream press. With a diverse array of British medallists inspiring a more open national pride throughout the country, familiar tabloid headlines of new arrivals here to “milk the system” were nowhere to be seen.

Mo Farah’s exploits even inspired stories about the benefits of immigration, leaving some of us thinking a legacy of the games might be more balanced and fact-based reporting on such issues.

Sadly not. Less than a month after the close of the Paralympics both The Sun and The Daily Express were up to their old tricks, publishing a typically sensationalist story about Bulgarian migrants.

The stories made unfounded accusations about a homeless Bulgarian family. But the worst thing about the reports was the depiction of an innocent Italian man distributing food to them as a “benefits scrounger”. Salvatore Quero was shocked to see himself on the front page of The Express, presented as a member of the family, under the headline Migrants make mugs of us all.

The article caused Mr Quero difficulties with authorities. “When I walked into the Jobcentre the following day, I was confronted by staff about my real nationality”, he said. “I was shown the article and told I was a liar”.

Ironically The Sun and The Express were among the biggest cheerleaders of Somali refugee Farah’s Olympic success and both spent the summer glorifying the games, which featured a significant number of British medallists, volunteers and paid staff from migrant backgrounds, as a resounding British success.

The Migrants Resource Centre, where Mr Quero is a client, have filed a complaint on his behalf with the Press Complaints Commission and have asked both papers for an apology. Ros Lucas, the MRC’s executive director, said: “After such positive images and articles in the press about migrants at the Olympics and Team GB, it has not taken long for the gutter press to resort to inflammatory, inaccurate reporting on migrant issues.”