IMIX, Chief Executive, Emma Harrison, encourages us not to give up hope on the day that Britain leaves the EU.
So, it’s finally here, today is ‘Brexit Day’. We’ll be feeling a range of emotions; some of us will be feeling anxious while others will be breathing a sigh of relief and some will be jubilant.
However you feel about leaving the EU, it is clear we are a fractured nation and no matter how many times people say, ‘get over it’ or ‘back Britain’; the truth is, divides like this are not fixed easily. And they certainly aren’t fixable through soundbites. Bringing people back together can’t be about sides or telling people how to think or feel. Healing takes time, reflection and finding new meaning. It also requires those of us who feel hopeless to find ways to motivate ourselves, seek out hope and nurture the energy to be part of the solution.
Right now, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr, I’m trying to ‘carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment’, so I’m looking for inspiration and finding it.
1. Be inspired by this volunteer
Whilst many of us were celebrating Christmas with our families, Ruth Cook spent her time volunteering in refugee camps in Greece.
2. A powerful new voice
We have the first black female bishop, Rose Hudson-Wilkin and she’s already using her position to call for more compassion for refugees.
3. Good news for climate migrants
The United Nations has issued a landmark ruling meaning it is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by the climate crisis. This not only reiterates the climate catastrophe we are facing but also puts people at the heart of the crisis. It is only when we recognise a problem that we can start finding solutions to fix it.
4. New homes for refugees
Up and down the country, people are opening their communities to refugees in need of homes. Communities like South Lanarkshire where a young Syrian refugee, Mohamad Najjar has settled. Mohamad wanted to give back and be part of his community, so he volunteered in his local British Heart Foundation store in Hamilton where he is ‘always on hand to help with a smile for everyone’. Last year Mohamad won British Heart Foundation UK Young Volunteer of the Year award.
5. This Italian Court ruling
In Italy, the High Court has ruled that Carola Rackete, the former German captain of NGO vessel Sea-Watch 3, should not have been arrested as she was only doing her duty in bringing migrants to Italian shores. The attempt to criminalise the work of people rescuing refugees has been thwarted – for now.
6. A refugee football tournament
Back at home, refugee footballers representing seven different football clubs took part in Burnley FC in the Community’s ‘Clarets Welcome’ Football Tournament. The head of inclusion at Burnley FC said: ‘Many of the participants we have welcomed here today have endured major turmoil in their lives. Through our football clubs, we can offer respite, fun and friendship – football has the unique ability to do that.’
7. Post-Brexit networking for EU citizens
The 3 Million has come up with a great response to Brexit. They’ve planned a series of networking events to bring EU nationals affected more closely together. They’ll meet to chat about pro-European movements, help with the Settled Status process, and support each other.
If you look for it, there is hope everywhere. There are people doing incredible, brave things to champion refugee rights and ensure that migrants are treated fairly. In moments of darkness, seek out these stories and keep reminding yourself that we’re making a difference.