My name is Nicola and I’m the Chair of Ripon City of Sanctuary.
A few months ago I found out that 1,500 people seeking sanctuary were soon to be housed in a vast accommodation centre in the tiny rural village of Linton-on-Ouse, just down the road from where I live. Read more about here.
People fleeing war and persecution should be housed as our neighbours, not warehoused in sites like this, segregated from the communities around them.
We campaigned hard. We collaborated with groups, talked to LOTS of journalists, tabled questions for ministers, researched planning law, and worked with human rights firms and barristers. I was even personally targeted by Neo-Nazis. It was a tough, short, sharp learning curve.
And you know what, it worked. The plan has been scrapped!
This is people power.
It is rare for the government to abandon a plan without first going to court, so this really is huge. It would not have been possible without the support of Asylum Matters – special thank you to Mary and Julia. We also had amazing support from SYMAAG, Medical Justice, Helen Bamber Foundation, APPG Immigration Detention, Detention Forum, Detention Action and Allies for Justice, Channel Rescue, Humans for Rights, Jesuit Refugee Service, BID, IMIX and many others. And a special thank you to HOPE Not Hate.
But the fight is not over.
The government is already planning more accommodation centres like this in other places around the UK. Local groups might want to be on the lookout. We won this time, and we can win again. We will be collating what we learnt, so others in the same position can hit the ground running.
But until then, we celebrate.