What does the word safety mean?
Last month I had the privilege of re-connecting with the Voices Network at the British Red Cross. The Voices network is a collective of refugees and people seeking asylum. Together, they speak out about issues that affect them. As people with lived experience, Voices Ambassadors share unique insights into what it’s like to seek asylum in the UK and contribute to their communities.
Back when I had been working for the Red Cross, prior to 2017, this network had just been beginning to take off. Now this network is flourishing comprising dynamic and inspirational people with lived experience of the asylum system in the UK, who want to campaign for a better and more humane asylum system in this country.
I was running a workshop together with a very impressive refugee community leader from Yemen to explore what the concept of safety really meant to people who had come to the UK seeking asylum. This workshop was based on earlier conversations that I had been involved with including both the network and members of the policy and advocacy team.
There was a feeling that the current toxic debate around asylum and immigration, most notable in the recent passage of the Illegal Migration Bill through Parliament, needed a reset and that people were not really listening to each other. We might all be using the same language but with very different definitions.
So this workshop might then be the start of something quite important: seeking to re-define the word safety in the context of some-one who has had to flee for their life. There still needs more work to be done here, but watch this space for more on this interesting and much needed initiative.