It was a bittersweet evening as Trustees, staff, volunteers and students gathered to thank Rev Andy Braunston for his outstanding leadership and valuable contributions made over the last decade as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit.
Through thick and thin Andy was a strategic leader who with his commitment and positive attitude saw that GMIAU grew to be a large and strong organisation respected locally, regionally and nationally. “Andy is not afraid to speak truth to power. GMIAU speaks truth to power continually.” – said Pam Flynn a long standing Trustee who worked with Rev Andy from the start.
We thank Andy for all he has done for GMIAU and the people of the Northwest and wish him all the best on his new endeavours in Glasgow.
Farewell letter from Rev Andy Braunston:
“10 years ago I became a trustee of the Unit and, shortly afterwards, became chair. I got involved, and stayed, due to the legal work the Unit does which I saw played out in the lives of my friends and parishioners.
10 years ago we were overworked, funds were precarious and we moaned about the draconian climate being created by the government. Well despite tripling our income and broadening our funding streams we are still overworked and the climate for refugees is ever more hostile; the Brexit deal being pursued at the moment is likely to make that worse.
Yet despite the workload, lack of funds and political context I am still amazed by the Unit and how we both save and change lives. Every time we get someone back into the system we remove them from destitution – that pernicious instrument of failed government policy. Every time we win a Judicial Review or appeal or when we secure an injunction against removal we offer hope of sanctuary. Every time we prepare someone for interview we lay the groundwork for a new life. Even when we lose the rare case we use that anger to focus our future efforts.
Over the last 10 years I have seen how the work of the Unit has transformed the lives of people who now flourish in the UK. I have seen lives saved and changed.
In June I move to Glasgow to begin working with a group of churches; I leave the Unit with many memories of intractable battles fought and won, of amazing work in the courts, the press and in campaigns. I hope to involve myself in asylum work again in Glasgow and know I leave the Unit in good hands.”