It has been quite a year for the UK and quite a year for TogetherintheUK. During the enormous political earthquakes that have happened around us, we have been developing our message of inclusivity and understanding.
So, this is just a reflection on our year. Our most major event was publishing a report on migration. Moving Matters: The Challenges and Solutions to Migrating to the UK. We were very grateful that a very talented researcher, Karen Ang, took on this project. It was massive! We started with a literature review, this gave us the stats and an overview of the main learning from academics.
Over the last two decades, total immigration to the UK has doubled, from around 300,000 people per year prior in 1997 to more than 600,000 in 2015. (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575973/The_Casey_Review_Report.pdf)
The team all supported Karen with the next phase of the report, social listening. This is when the team looked across different channels for what people were saying about coming to the UK online. This was gripping and sometimes surprising:
Americans hate that we have our washing machines in our kitchens, we found a Sudanese doctor saying he wished he had been told early on that people don’t give orders here – instruction are much more nuanced and we found someone from South Korea who loved being able to stop the traffic by pushing the buttons on a zebra crossing.
Karen then conducted qualitative research: one focus group and many individual interviews. Her findings were incredibly interesting:
that there are all kinds of emotional challenges immigrating to the UK, people rely on family and friends and that many of the systems we have here are bewildering. She found that work was incredibly important, not just for money but as a place to make friends and become settled.
One quirky finding was that some Eastern Europeans hate the fact that many UK houses have carpets.
All the above are just examples of what you can find in the report, there is so much more to it.
One of her most surprising findings was that in much of the research, people do not ask migrants what they want or what helps. This is what we do, we share the insights and lessons of people who have migrated here to help others.
To read the report: go to: Moving Matters: The Challenges and Solutions to Migrating to the UK.
We launched the report at an event at the Migration Museum – the perfect venue. Our keynote speaker was Professor Clare Gerada, (the first female lead of the Royal College of GPs in 50 years) born in Malta who memorably said, ‘you are far more likely to meet a migrant treating you in the NHS than you are to meet a health tourist’. Our panel was made up of migrants and people working with migrants and led to a fascinating discussion. Many people have told us afterwards that the discussion and the event stayed in their minds and gave them new insight into migration.
Leading up to the event, we made other changes, e.g we adapted our logo and added a tagline.
Since the event, we have changed our approach to content and we now have monthly themes. This has led to us broadening what we write about. We now write not only migrant stories but we also feature organisations working with migrants as we all have so much to learn from their experience.
So, what next?
We have an event coming up, in partnership with Union Chapel where we will share stories, enjoy musicians and have a meal together. Its on February 5th, do come along. It’s free but promises to be as stimulating as the last event. Book here:
We will be developing products to support migrants in creating their lives here.
We will continue to write blogs giving insights into migration.