As I have mentioned before, a portion of profits for the Lisbon Collection will be donated to the JCWI. I reached out to them for a little Q&A, so as a customer you can better understand their cause and why I support them so much.
What is the JCWI and what is your mission?
JCWI is a national charity that campaigns for migrants’ rights. We were founded in 1967 to bring together self-organised migrant groups, and coordinate campaigns together. Today, we have a team of lawyers, who help people with their cases – securing their rights and status in the UK. We have a policy team, who research the ways that people are impacted by immigration policies here in the UK, and identify ways we can challenge unfair rules through the courts. We have a campaigns team, who work with grassroots groups and individual campaigners to call for change through parliament and by building up our communities. And we have a communications team, who work to help get the voices of those who have experienced the immigration system into the media, and help change the narrative around immigration in the UK. Our goal is to make life better, more equal, and more fair for migrants in the UK.
What are some of your proudest moments?
For over 50 years we have campaigned against cruel, hostile and often racist immigration policies alongside our members
1967 JCWI is founded, and a year later organised our first demonstration, with 3,000 marching on Downing Street against rule changes which make it harder for people to enter the UK even if they hold a British passport
In the early 1970s, the UK turns away thousands of Asian people who have been forced to leave East Africa, even though they have British passports. We highlighted the situation and took on 500 cases.
1973 large-scale passport raids targeting Black and Asian communities are limited, following our protests.
1982 virginity tests on fiancées of British citizens are scrapped, after our campaigning leads to public outcry.
1997 the ‘primary purpose rule’ which has separated thousands of couples and families is finally scrapped, after years of campaigning by the Divided Families network, co-ordinated by JCWI.
2006 we get the Home Office to admit certain nationalities are targeted for electronic tagging, and agree to limit the practice.
2018 we help expose the scandalous treatment of the Windrush generation, whose papers had been destroyed by the Home Office and have fallen into the hostile environment – denied the right to work, access healthcare or even rent a property in the UK.
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Migrants in the UK face a ‘hostile environment’ not only in terms of the rhetoric we hear from politicians and the media, but in policy too.
The ‘hostile environment’ is a set of policies introduced in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May, with the aim of making life unbearably difficult in the UK for those who cannot show the right paperwork. Or, as she said at the time; “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants.”
To achieve this, the Government set about trying to cut undocumented migrants off from using fundamental services including the NHS and the police, and make it illegal to work, or for a landlord to rent them a property. Doctors, landlords, police officers and teachers are tasked with checking immigration status, and often people who look or sound ‘foreign’ are asked to show their papers in order to rent a home or get medical treatment.
The Home Office also accesses the data that public sector organisations use – so whether you are a patient speaking to a GP, a victim reporting a crime or an exploited worker reporting your boss to the authorities, your data can be checked by immigration officials.
It turns us against each other – turning professionals whose duty it is to care, into immigration enforcers. And it undermines trust in vital public services. When some of us are afraid to go to the doctor or to ask the police for help, we are all made more vulnerable.
All of this happens even though the Home Office itself has admitted that the “vast majority” of undocumented people have done, and will do, nothing wrong.
You can find out more about the hostile environment here: https://www.jcwi.org.uk/the-hostile-environment-explained
We have campaigned against the hostile environment since 2012. We’ve taken legal action against the hostile environment in housing (called “Right to Rent”) and in December 2020 we launched a campaign against the hostile environment in workplaces – Work It Out. Find out more and get involved at www.jcwi.org.uk/workitout
What do you hope JCWI's legacy will be?
The movement of people is a fact of life, and the history of human kind. Pandemic aside, we have always moved – to a new town, a new city, or sometimes across a border. Sometimes that’s because we want to, sometimes it’s because we have no other choice here. At JCWI we believe the lives of migrants and British people would be better if we made policy that was rooted in evidence and humanity and that simple fact – people move. And actually that’s a good thing! All our lives are better for the movement of people around the world. So instead of building fences and walls, we can start by accepting that simple truth.
Finally – a huge thank you to you, Inês, for supporting us by making these donations – and a huge thank you to everyone who buys one! We really appreciate your support!