Haringey residents gather to celebrate migrant solidarity

John Stokes at Haringey Welcome reflects on the event

Credit: A previous Haringey Welcome event in London

On the evening of Friday, 22nd September, the Karamel Vegan Restaurant in Wood Green hosted a large-scale social event entitled ‘All Welcome 2023! Migrant Solidarity in Haringey’.

This was organised and funded by Haringey Welcome, a grassroots collective organisation run by volunteers and dedicated to making Haringey a welcoming place for the community at large. In an evening of discussion, films, presentations and entertainment the emphasis throughout was on the need to combat divisive attempts to create a ‘hostile environment’ through increased solidarity and networking among residents, whether recent or longstanding, whatever their place of origin.

More than a hundred guests were encouraged on arrival to talk to representatives of local groups about their activities, to study and take away printed information and to sample video productions. Material was supplied from, among others, Haringey Anti-Raids, which advises local people on how to respond to immigration enforcement teams, Polish Migrants Organise for Change (POMOC), which builds solidarity between Polish communities and other migrant groups, and Solidarity Knows No Borders, which campaigns for migrant justice across the UK.

Attendees then had a chance to continue discussion while enjoying food and drink prepared by Karamel staff before moving on to the theatre space where Tanya Harmer of Haringey Welcome compered a series of introductory presentations.

These were interspersed with personal testimonies, poetry, stand-up comedy – all with a migrant theme – and concluded with the superb flamenco guitar of Mouayad Amouneh accompanied on duduk and guitar by Selim.

As Lucy Nabijou outlined in her opening speech, the contribution made by Haringey Welcome has included the creation of the ‘No Small Victories’ podcast and the video collaboration ‘Covid Chronicles’. The emphasis has always been to give migrant voices a chance to be heard and, in the light of the worsening situation for migrants overall, that
need was greater than ever. Among the organisations and individuals whose work was subsequently invoked were Steve Jones, convenor of Haringey Community Action Network, Cllr Benali Hamdache, Islington council member representing the Green Party, Holly Cullen-Davies, leader of the campaign to prevent climate activists Marcus Decker and Morgan Trowland from being deported, spoken word performance by Champagne and Earling, Lara Parmiani whose Legal Aliens Tottenham-based theatre workshops have an impressive record in relieving mental stress, Mulugeta Asgedom of Haringey Council’s Resettlement Team and its Welcome Advisory Board, and chair Cllr Lucia das Neves, and Nanou Thassinda of Abolish Reporting, which challenges the need for bail conditions for migrants to report to the Home Office.

The keynote throughout the whole evening was ‘intersectionality’, meaning an urgent need to establish working connections among those engaged in confronting interrelated crises. ‘All Welcome 2023!’ was designed to be informative, to promote reflection, to invigorate, and to inspire resilience. Given the tremendous enthusiasm shown by everyone present its success will surely be borne out in time.

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