Today marks the 49th anniversary of Enoch Powell's infamous Rivers of Blood speech where he expressed his concerns about the level of migration and the impact that this could cause. His predictions of 7 million migrants in the UK by the year 2000 didn't come true, with actual figures of around 4.6m reported in the 2001 census [BBC, ONS]. At the time his words sparked uprisings of workers worried about their jobs and led to his sacking from the shadow cabinet. As I look at the world today, I fear I can see history repeating itself with a very small minority of people who come to the awareness of the public through various forms of media having a disproportionate impact on the views of society and raising fears in many peoples minds. Of course the reality is very different with a small migrant population helping create the excitingly diverse and interesting society we enjoy in the UK. In a world where the internet has spanned the globe and we can talk through our computers to people on the opposite side of the world as if we are looking through a window on our desk, we are all increasingly aware of the worlds cultures and benefits. The small-world ethos that came in in the 60s and 70s with faster than sound travel, seems smaller than ever, and ironically the idea of air travel on the Concorde seems as slow a method of communication as a steam train seemed in the 1970s! So for todays young people, the world is not a threatening place, it's a place to experience and enjoy - and if you want to experience the world without traveling around it, you can do so. By choosing your restaurant for example, you can travel to China, India, Australia or America all for the cost of a bus ticket.
All these benefits of migration are lost when we hear about Rivers of Blood or todays equivalent, meaning that celebration turns to fear in too many cases. This fear of others only seeks to create environments where young migrant people become victims of abuse and are further alienated by our society. What a shame it is that rather than being welcoming to the world to give our young people the best on offer, we build metaphorical (or even physical) walls to keep the world out.
At IARS we have been looking at ways to address this and to reduce the amount and impact of abuse suffered by young migrants. As a part of our Abused No More project, we are currently preparing for a training week (starting on Monday) which sets out to share the best practice from 5 countries around Europe with an international audience of youth workers. This CPD accredited training programme will include cutting edge discussions and sharing of best practice for youth workers and those working with migrant communities and all places were rapidly taken up, however if you are interested in finding out about this topic, Thursday is open to more people as the programme will include the 5th Annual IARS International Conference, held at Middle Temple in London. There are a small number of places available for the conference and no doubt if you are interested in the Abused No More project you will get a flavour of the outputs by attending. So why not come along and find out more?
For more information about the conference follow this link: https://members.iars.org.uk/civicrm/event/register?id=13&reset=1
For more information about Abused No More follow this link: http://www.abusednomore.org/