Category Archives: Migrant Voice

FACE IT 2015 – Photographs of people that make up the immigration debate in the UK

A photographic project by Ben McMillan wants to give a human face to the immigration debate.

Afghani Driver LondonBefore you go to vote today, make sure you scroll down the beautiful portraits of FACE IT 2015 –  perhaps the most thought provoking projects addressing the immigration debate in a non-partisan fashion.

FACE IT 2015 – is a series of portraits by photographer Ben McMillan gathering a visual cross-section of the people who make up the immigration debate. From all walks of life, and all levels of society: Boris Johnson portraits comes side by side to a UKIP representative, himself followed by an Afghani London taxi driver.

The photograph used of the same spotlight and lens to shoot each of these individuals. Each have a unique opinion on immigration to the UK. The result is stunning – with the finish of a glam advertisement for a luxury brand. What’s more it puts everyone on an equal footing: each opinion is respected.

Boris Johnson Immigration PortraitThe project is neither profit making nor a party-political exercise. Instead, it is made up of individual portraits being shot right now in and around London so to calm and give a human face to the central social debate of immigration.

Share with friends and go vote today. Follow the project on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Why you should know the difference between Romanians and Romani

A few words from Georgiana, Romanian Community Manager at Migreat, on the difference between Roma and Romanians on International Roma Day.

To quote one of the most read websites in the world,

Wikipedia: Romani – ‘Not to be confused with Romanians – Români, an unrelated ethnic group and nation.’

This one phrase alone explains clear enough how these two ethnic groups are not one and the same. However, the confusion created by the little understanding of this differentiation continues to cause problems for both Romani and Romanians.

It is important to develop on the issue of differences between the two groups, especially at a time when Europe celebrates its largest ethnic minority. By declaring the 8th of April as International Roma Day, the world is invited to acknowledge the autonomy and originality of the Romani culture.

So here is a little background history of the Romani and Romanians   

Romanian villagers
Romanian villagers

Romania is the Romani people’s homeland; so is USA and Brazil. And just as much, Spain and France.

But, because of the phonetic similarities of the words Romani and Romanians the world mixes the two ethnicities together, until it’s almost impossible to convince someone of the differences. And to be fair, that is as much of an insult to the Romani’s culture as it is to the Romanians. It is unacceptable to completely eliminate someone’s identity, by confusing it with someone else’s.

Romani people don’t come from Rome, and they certainly don’t originally come from Romania. They have a history that dates back to the beginnings of time, just as much as Romanians have theirs. While Romani are and have always been travellers, Romanians have always lived in the land of Dacia – somewhere between Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Today we call Romania the country of residence for the Romani people, which makes it as much their country as the Romanians’. While both share the same land, blending in together on different levels of social and political aspects of day to day life, they are very much different in their cultural and spiritual beliefs.

Romanians speak the Romanian language, the Roma community speaks the Romani language as well as the language of their country of residence – in this case Romanian. The Romani language has dramatically different roots to Romanian; it is similar to Hindi and other Indian languages but with influences from Greek as well. Some Romanians can understand a little Romani, but most can’t speak it.

The list of differences and similarities between the two ethnic groups can go on and on, but I believe you got the picture by now.

international roma day 8 april
Today, 8th of April 2015 the world celebrates International Roma Day

Over the past few decades the view on migration has changed immensely with more and more people embracing a ‘nomadic’ lifestyle. European Union has given its member countries the opportunity to experience freedom of movement, allowing them to choose a ‘Country of Residence’ to their liking, just as the Romani people have been doing for thousands of years.

This does not mean that Romani and Romanians will ever merge in as one; nor does it mean that the stigma on Romani people should continue. The point of this article is to argue against the ignorance that surrounds this subject, and state the importance of addressing with the right words when talking about someone’s identity.

Arabic Migrants in the UK Event: how social media is transforming lives and integration of Arab migrants

Migreat is running a series of events & workshops for migrant communities of London.

Next in line: a panel discussion on social media, integration and Arab migrants living in London & the UK.

Telegraph pic

The arabic migrant communities of London are experiencing a cultural transformation. In the recent years, the spread of mobile technologies and the popularity of social media has made possible for the community to engage in a new manner with news from their home country, re-connect with their homelands and their loved ones.

Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Palestinians, etc are enjoying more mediums for communicating and sharing their experiences with friends and family inside and outside the UK. Youtube, Instagram or Whatsapp have become daily tools used by the community to gather, share and exchange information across distance.

But has it helped arab migrants integrate better Europe societies and especially in the UK? Is social media fostering the propagation of communautarian ideas and creating new digital walls where information and platforms are only populated by the same people and ideas?

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Our next event on February 28th 2015 brings prominent voices of the London Arabic community from Alaraby Al Jadeed, Arts Canteen, NahlaInk and Meryna to discuss this transformation and its impact on arab migrants in the UK.

Panelist Nahla Al-Ageli, a British-Arab freelance journalist specialising in the arts and culture of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, will talk about her experience blogging for the British-Arabs and the growth of readers she has seen.

Aser El Saqqa, curator, producer and director of Arts Canteen, will be able to illustrate the topic on the recent growth in demand for Arab Arts and the growing recognition of Art coming from the region.

Khalil Al Agha, PhD candidate in New Media Studies and Editor-in-Chief of Al Araby Al Jadeed Arabic website will share his data on Arab youth use of social media to moderate and lead this panel discussion.

The early afternoon will see Tara Jaffar, director of Non-Governmental Organisation, Meryna/مرنة, leading a workshop for the attendees drawing on the expressive and therapeutic of arts to better the understanding of processes of integration and the core role of art and social mediums for arabic migrants in that process.


If you are interested in participating in the event and want to know more about what Migreat Arab Community has to offer you, please get in touch with @MigreatAR

Happy International Migrants Day 2014

Today is International Migrants’ day, and as a company that helps make migration easy for all, we are celebrating and dedicating this blog post to the 232 million people on earth that have moved abroad for a better life.


To honour International Migrants day, Migreat blog has compiled interesting data and stories on migration this whole week that you can find summarised below

Sunday brought about the big picture of international Migration and Monday took a deeper look at International Student migration.

Tuesday was dedicated to Migreat staff telling their individual migrant stories and Wednesday voiced out the positive contribution UK Migrants make to the UK.

Today, as a virtual gift from our team and to celebrate in music migrants, we opened our playlist made of immigration songs to which you can contribute to.


Join us and participate today on Twitter and Facebook by sharing your photo or story followed with the #IAmAMigrant hashtag and mentioning @Migreat. We will retweet and repost the best stories and pictures.

Migrants Contribute to the UK

For International Migrants Day, Migreat is celebrating migration around the world with a blog post a day.

Today, we present the exciting campaign initiated by UK migrant charities #MigrantsContribute in one big infographic – share it widely to tell the world that #MigrantsRock!


When people move country they bring a lot more than just a suitcase.

Share the whole cartoon of the #MigrantContribute campaign on Facebook and Twitter with the following message: When people move countries, they bring more than a suitcase #MigrantsContribute! 

More information about the campaign and how to get involved.

Global Migration Numbers Data and Infographics

For International Migrants Day, Migreat is taking on social media to celebrate migration and migrants all around the world with the #IAmAMigrant Hashtag. Today, we start with facts about worldwide Migration.

International Migrants Day

The big numbers

There are 232 million people in the world living outside of their country of origin. If migrants were representing a country, they would be part of the fifth largest country in the world; topping Brazil (203 Million), well below China (1,367 Million) and India (1,263 Million), but close to the population of the US (319 Million) and Indonesia (252 Million).

Migration: a Developed Country Phenomenon

Migrant flows have changed over the years. Nowadays, Migrants are mostly coming from developed countries with half of them originating from OECD countries to stay in OECD countries. Migration from poor country to rich country, against common beliefs accounts only for a quarter of the overall migration flow each year. Click the link to read more amazing facts about migration.

In other words, migration flows are driven by people from developed countries rather than underdeveloped countries. As a matter of fact, one out of ten people living in the OECD is a migrant. See and click on the infographic below to learn more.

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This year 2014, the majority of new migrants are coming from Asia and European countries: China (10%), Romania (5.6%), Poland (5.4%) and India (4%). You can get the hard numbers on this other infographic by Italian Infographic Designer Carlo Zapponi.

People movin
Extract of a dynamic Infographic by Carlo Zapponi. See it live on

Since the crisis, Germany has become a hub for migrant workers and students.

A Growing Number of Educated Migrants

30% of migrants worldwide are highly skilled workers with a university degree. This will probably continue to increase as the number of students worldwide enrolled on courses outside of their country of citizenship more than doubled since 2000. In 2012, there are 4.5 million international students, with 75% of them enrolled in OECD countries.

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However, all is not bright and blue for these highly-skilled. Student and work visas are tough to obtain in some countries like the UK or the US. Migrants are less likely to be employed than native borns. When employed they are 50% more likely to be overqualified for the job. It is a lot of wasted economic potential that needs and can be fixed!

Join the call

As Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary General said:

Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family

Join the #IAmAMigrant online conversation with @Migreat and @UN

#IAmAMigrant – Celebrating Migrants Around the World

For International Migrants Day, the UN is taking on social media to celebrate migration and migrants all around the world. Get ready to tweet and post your personal stories of migration!

International Migrants Day Poster by the UN
International Migrants Day Poster by the UN

Beginning 13th of December, the UN online campaign, will run from today until International Migrant day on December 18th and aims to show the positive contribution of migrants to communities and economies worldwide.

Migreat, as a company assisting migrants in their journey to a new country – and a company made of 80% migrants!, is happily embracing and excited to join the campaign this week. We will release each day pictures, inspiring quotes and immigration data on the blog.

Brixton teenager celebrating the contribution of migrants to their neighbourhood - Credits to the #MigrantsContribtute Campaign
Brixton teenager celebrating the contribution of migrants to their neighbourhood – Credits to the #MigrantsContribtute Campaign

You too, join the campaign on Facebook and Twitter by attaching any material you post with the #IAmAMigrant hashtag and share it with us @Migreat. Photos and stories will be featured on the UN’s Storify page.

The campaign is open to all global citizens to join. Feel free to spread the word on over social media platform, like Weibo, VK, Orkut, Instagram, and many more!


Follow our blog and our twitter feed @migreat for your daily dose of fresh and positive migration stories!

Migrants Contribute Event Recap: Time to get Social :)

On October 24th, Migrant organisation leaders and supporters gathered at Migreat office to work on Migrants Contribute Campaign‘s next steps. LAWRS (Latin American Women Rights Service) led the group to think actions following an introduction the campaign missions and a presentation by Migreat on how to campaign online and spread it across social media. Here a quick recap in pictures.

Introduction to the workshop
The meeting brought a variety of people coming from all ages and backgrounds

The campaign was introduced by Lucila from LAWRS to the new faces that joined that morning. Migrants Contribute is a grass-root campaign, led by UK migrant organisations and calling anyone interested in the immigration debate to join. As Lucila said on the day: “This campaign can never reach its goals unless it is led by every one of us, (…). If there are actions you would like to take on, please reach out!”

Presentation from Lucila
Lucila from LAWRS presenting the campaign first steps

The campaign aims at raising the visibility of the contribution migrants have made to the UK, and call on politicians and media to change the current negative discourse. “MigrantsContribute does not want to react and reply to the negative discourse. Instead MigrantsContribute campaign is here to create a new narrative to inform the debate from a different angle, a constructive one.” stated Lucila.

Bringing Migrants Contribute Campaign online and on Home screen
Bringing Migrants Contribute Campaign online and on Home screen

On the day, leaders and supporters shared knowledge of what had been done so far – the events, the website and the setting up of social media accounts –  and what could be done next: Migreat started a practical conversation on how to take advantage of these current assets to bring the campaign online on social media.

Half way through the meeting, the group split in three groups to think specific actions that could take the campaign to the mass and in the hands of migrants, leading the campaign closer to its ideal of a migrant led campaign.

Migreat Community Manager
Priya, Community Manager at Migreat, sharing her knowledge about Community building online

Three areas of work were discussed: a social media campaign. A campaign of stickers for migrant owned restaurants. A research and reach out to high profile individuals to become ambassadors of the campaign. All of this in the aim to gather a diverse pool of actors and places from where to speak out the reality of migrants and immigration in the UK.

From the meeting on the day, the group mentioned various initiatives already happening that the campaign could join. A list of related events has been made available on Migrants Contribute website. Lucila invited anyone interested in the campaign to add theirs too: “ we want you to take #MigrantsContribute campaign to where they think it can be useful and constructive.”

Migrant contribute campaign twitter
The Campaign Twitter created a lot of online interest on the day

The campaign is running since September and until the UK Elections. The group meets monthly for similar training and working group sessions, and it is open to new participants who are eager to make change happen. From December onwards, expect more public activities such as a Migrants Day Celebration, a call for politicians and press to commit to a fairer portrayal of migrants, and much more. Migrants and non-migrants, all welcome!


If you are interested to know more, follow campaign’s Twitter & Facebook accounts and take part in the next event.

London Multimedia Storytelling Project Enables Migrants to Share their Experiences

A multimedia storytelling project, My Journey: Stories of London Migrants, runs until October 10th at Shoreditch Town hall in London. It provides migrants with a unique opportunity to share their experiences through photography, film, audio and comic strips, giving this much-talked about demographic a human face.

We asked the Magician behind the exhibition Emily Churchill Zaraa, Communication Officer for Migrant Resources Centre to tell us more. Following on the spirit of the exhibition, Emily answered by offering us to read the journey and experience of Camille Stengel, a photography volunteer and migrant at @MigrantsMRC to present the development of the exhibition over the summer.

We could have not dreamt better introduction to the My Journey 🙂

(c) Roksolana Gladii 2
Roksalana says: There is a double struggle if you are migrant. A lack of friends is a reality of my life. Again, it is a language barrier.

June in London can be hit or miss, weather wise. If luck is on our side the days are full of glorious sunshine, but the threat of a torrential downpour is ever imminent. It’s best to adapt to the weather with a variety of activities so that London can be enjoyed whatever the weather brings.

My Saturdays in June this past summer were spent embracing the varied weather with a group of enthusiastic people, creating images for a participatory multimedia project about migrants’ journeys in London. According to the Migration Observatory, as of 2012 40 per cent of Inner London’s population consisted of foreign-born people. These migrants all have a story to tell about their experiences in London, but rarely is a space made where these stories can be shared in a public setting. The Migrants Resource Centre, with the aid of funding by the City Bridge Trust, developed a truly innovative multimedia project about migrants’ experiences as Londoners.

The aptly titled My Journey project, run primarily by project coordinator Emily Churchill Zaraa and workshop leader Bill Clibery, consisted of a range of multimedia workshops where migrants could tell their stories through photography, film, audio clips and comic strips. I joined as a volunteer facilitator to help participants create various ‘photo stories’ in response to the question: What does being a Londoner mean to you? Relevant to anyone who calls London their home, the question brought forth a diverse range of answers through the medium of analogue cameras. 

The photo story workshop consisted of four sessions where participants were transformed into photographers through a series of brainstorming activities, photo-based exercises, and skill-focused presentations. The workshops allowed the photographers to establish their image-capturing techniques with analogue cameras while also developing the nuances of their story as a Londoner.

During the first session everyone collaboratively created a list of words used to describe migrants. Some came up with words often seen in the press – ‘thieves’, ‘poor’ – while others conveyed more diverse (and realistic) words – ‘clever’, ‘hopeful’. The same exercise was then repeated to describe London, which ranged from ‘lonely’ and ‘isolating’ to ‘busy’ and ‘full of possibility’. These descriptors helped to stimulate everyone’s ideas about their own photo story, and photographers created a ‘brief’ to help organise their story ideas for the following week.

(c) Roksolana Gladii
Camille (left) poses with Roksalana in a photo Roksalana composed to show her determination to reach the level of younger students

The second session was dedicated to creating images for the photo story. I teamed up with photographer Roskolana, and together with Bill and another volunteer we roamed the campuses of London to capture images for her story. During our trek I was able to spend some quality time with Roskolana and learn about her experiences since coming to London. We have in common both currently being students, and we discussed the struggles of higher education. Roskolana’s determined demeanour and kind disposition made the day’s activities even more enjoyable.

The third session, ironically on one of the hottest days of the year, was spent inside in the Double Negative Darkroom. This session was especially exciting as participants received some ‘hands-on’ experience transforming their images into works of art. My day was primarily spent with Roskolana and Anna, another photographer, and was split into a morning in the darkroom developing images the photographers had taken the week before, and an afternoon of wet plate collodion portrait making. This was the first time all three of us had ever been in a darkroom, which resulted in many spurts of nervous laughter splicing through focused concentration as we tried to wrap our heads around these various techniques. The three of us gasped in union as the images appeared before our eyes after being treated with the special photo-specific ‘wash’ chemicals. We finished the day talking about how fascinating it was to learn the various photo developing approaches and how much fun it was to utilise these techniques in the frame of the My Journey project.

The workshops were a unique space to learn, play and develop photography and storyboard skills for both the photographers and the facilitators. As a volunteer facilitator, I found the most poignant aspect of the project to be the connections made between everyone involved. Everyone involved in the project had a wide range of skills and experiences to offer, and this made for a dynamic and creative exchange of ideas and resources throughout the four weeks.

Our final session involved composing the photo stories of each participant and presenting them at the end of the day. The assorted narratives and powerful images made for a memorable afternoon, where beaming photographers shared their photo stories with an enthralled audience of fellow photographers and facilitators. The day finished with a feeling of satisfaction in the air, and I left excited and energised for the exhibition to come.

The sun will shine inside the Shoreditch Town Hall during the My Journey multimedia workshop, illuminating the photos, films, audio stories and comic strips of some of the radiant migrants that make up this vibrant city. I look forward to soaking up the rays.

Blog author Camille Stengel is a migrant and an Erasmus Mundus doctoral fellow. 


My Journey: Stories of London Migrants exhibition details:

Free entrance. 10am-8pm. Until Friday 10th October 2014

The Mayor’s Parlour, Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT

See the stories:

Follow the conversation on Twitter @MigrantsMRC and #myjourney

My Journey: Stories of London Migrants exhibition is organised by Migrant Resources Centre working alongside sister organisations in promoting a positive image of migrants towards the upcoming elections, part of the recently launched #MigrantsContribute Campaign. Follow @MigrantContribu for more info.

Post study work route: what’s the evidence of its impact?

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration (APPG on Migration) published a report analysing the opportunities international students have for work in the UK after they finish university since the removal of the Post-Study Work Visa in 2011.


The report found that since the closure of the post-study work visa route, there has been a decrease of 88% in the number of students securing visas to stay work in the UK after university.

Businesses especially SME’s and startups have reported difficulty finding the right skills to recruit on the local market and have voiced real concerns not being able to easily hire international talents. Competitor countries, including Germany, Canada and Australia, offer far more generous post-study & work opportunities than the UK currently does.

UK Universities, under a budget cut since 2011, have also complained of a loss of revenue. 20% of the total universities output is generated from the enrolment of non-EU students. The UK’s intake of students from overseas declined in 2012-13 for the first time in 29 years.

Overall, the APPG reports that alternative visa routes have failed to retain international students talent and tat the removal of the PSW has prevented skilled graduates from contributing to the UK jobs market.

Reasons for the closure of the post-study work route
The closure of the post-study work route was justified by Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May, who said the route was being abused by “foreign graduates staying on in the UK to work in unskilled jobs”.

Ministers have been at pains to prove with facts that foreign graduates were taking the jobs of locals. As well, it has been at rooting out the abuse of graduate students working in low-skilled occupations.

However, the Home Office’s objectives are to ‘reduce net migration’ to the 100,000 by ‘tightening and [making] strict changes to immigration rules.

The route left for international students to stay work in the UK

The government’s Tier 2 (General) visa has been seen as the only option left to international students after graduation to stay work in the UK. The visa route will only allow students to work if they can find an employer with a Home Office-sponsored license, who is willing to pay at least £20,300 a year, and only to students at Bachelor’s, Master’s or PHD degree level. Postgraduate diplomas (apart from PGCE & PGDE teaching qualifications) are disqualified from this scheme.

The government introduced the new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route, which reduces the capacity to freely setup a business but allows approved business idea from graduate students with a university sponsorship (only selected universities) to stay and set up a UK business.

Since its inception in 2012 (for the first 3 quarters) 129 Graduate Entrepreneur Visas had been issued to graduate entrepreneurs, a low number if reported to the 2,000 visas available. A main reason suggested to explain low numbers is the fear from universities to lose their sponsor licenses.

The government’s push for international students to move on to Tier 2 visas has not taken into account the needs of start-ups in Tech and low graduate starting salaries in sectors such as Creative Industry. It also allows a disparity in pay, non-EEA graduates have to be on base pay of £20,300 while domestic and EU graduates can be employed for much cheaper.

Thanks to Awale Olad, Public & Parliamentary Affairs Officer at MRN, and coordinating the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration – for the collaboration on this article. The APPG on Migration supports cross-party parliamentarians with their work in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, previously launched an inquiry into the impact of the closure of the family migration route.