We have not brought you a RAPAR update for a little while now, but we continue to be very busy doing what RAPAR does best: challenging the State and the State’s institutions on human rights violations and humanity-denying actions, and campaigning for human rights for all.
The #StatusNow4All campaign and the Status Now Network (SNN) initiated by RAPAR continues to grow and the call for Status Now for everyone has been signed by over 125 organisations and counting, and the online petition is nearing 5000 signatures from individuals. Check the SNN website for more detail and follow us on twitter and facebook.
Inside of RAPAR, our mental health, housing, women’s, and men’s campaigning groups are meeting frequently and instigating their own awareness-raising and change-making campaigns as we speak. RAPAR’s research now includes two European Union funded, Erasmus+ youth projects, the just finished Big Lottery funded Building Resilience project (see below), and ongoing research with the women’s group.
Cats on the Run
This week saw the much-anticipated launch of RAPAR’s Cats on the Run, a project that aimed to highlight the struggle that displaced, undocumented people face during the pandemic. The idea was conceived by RAPAR and created by Sheba Arts, a women-led arts collective in Manchester, and funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation.
After numerous accounts of the atrocities that displaced people face upon their migration, particularly at the hands of human traffickers, it tells of the destitution, street homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, and other deplorable situations that displaced people find themselves in once they arrive in the UK. One participant, who had been street homeless throughout the winter, tells of the difficulties he had accessing healthcare at a hospital because he had no ID card or legal status in the UK. Another participant asks the poignant question: “If this pandemic has been hard for those with access to everything, imagine how hard it has been for me”.
Cats on the Run launched on Wednesday the 9th of June with attendees from multiple charities and locations, and several speeches. RAPAR’s own Rhetta Moran gave a speech in which she celebrated the ‘terrible beauty’ of what had been created, criticising the situation which makes it easy for RAPAR to find 22 people (including two babies) in destitution in the UK. She said:
When I thought about talking today about this project Cats on the Run, a phrase kept on coming into my mind. It’s an ambiguous phrase that was composed by the poet WB Yeats when he wrote the poem ‘Easter 1916’, about the revolutionary uprising against British imperialism that began in Dublin on the Easter Sunday of 1916. The refrain of his poem is “a terrible beauty is born.” “A terrible beauty is born.”
This film that we have all just watched – what I see is terrible beauty. Terrible, because no one, not in Manchester, not in the UK, not anywhere in the world, should be experiencing what the two men in our film have just revealed to us. (Rhetta Moran)
Rhetta also noted the collective spirit that had arisen to produce this powerful piece of documentary, and closed with a profound quote from Shade Alonge that highlighted the quite unnoticed fact that the people who donated so much of their time, effort and resources to those left behind by the pandemic are now themselves facing destitution.
When COVID first began, the people who came forward to feed and shelter undocumented women and their children, now some of them are running out of food and money for themselves, as well as for the people who they are helping. It is becoming very desperate and evicting people onto the street does nothing, apart from create more illnesses, more miseries and more risks of death. It has to stop. (Shade Alonge)
These people should not go unnoticed or unhelped.
Building networks of resilience
This week also saw the publication of the Building Resilience project report, written by Grainne McMahon, Rhetta Moran and Sunitha Dwarakanath (McMahon et al, 2021). The work, a collaboration between RAPAR, Migrant Voice and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, aimed to understand, quantitatively and qualitatively, the effect of Covid 19 and lockdowns on marginalised communities in the UK. The report, which was recently referenced on iNews and Sky News, sets out the learnings from a survey and interviews, and an evaluation of building community networks of resilience, to explore and understand how resilience is released and developed, and inhibited because of the UK’s hostile environment, within the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Both of these projects illustrate that RAPAR continues to be at the forefront of insightful, practical research as well as explorative, creative campaigns around human rights, and we are extremely grateful that we participate in such a strong and passionate community of like-minded organisations and individuals.