Yesterday Manchester showed up in St Peter’s Square in the rain (of course) to say it loud and say it clear, refugees are welcome here!
On the day this government’s Illegal Migration Bill was being pulled apart in the House of Lords – by the Archbishop of Canterbury who called it morally unacceptable, and the former head of the British army who said the Bill was vicious – Manchester turned out to shout loudly that this Bill is not in our name.
We were joined by our friends from across Greater Manchester including Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST), Rethink Rebuild Society, Right to Remain, These Walls Must Fall, Safety4Sisters, Boaz Trust, City of Sanctuary, Greater Manchester Law Centre, Greater Manchester Tenants Union, Asylum Matters, RAPAR and No Borders.
Hundreds turned out to hear as speaker after speaker spoke up for people seeking asylum, for the NHS, for LGBTQ+ people, for people facing housing problems and struggling with the cost of living crisis. Manchester joined the dots.
Local political leaders stood alongside people with lived experience seeking asylum to say that here, in our city-region, we do things differently: we look out for people in times of need and we reject political fear mongering.
Rain does not put us off. And nor will this government. Standing together, hearing the WAST women’s choir, listening to the Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council pledge the city’s support – it was re-energising. And not just for us in Manchester – it’s clear that Manchester’s gathering has been energising for people standing against the Bill around the country.
No justice, no peace!