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Representing liberation issues in the grassroots

Monday 16-03-2015 - 16:43

This is a blog by Alaa Elaydi, Assistant Community Organiser (Birmingham) from NUS' campaigns team.

One of the issues that has come through when community organising with some local students in Birmingham is the perception of local communities. This is amplified further by the implementation of policy, specific to the immediate region, which carry a sentiment of intolerance and racist social regulation.

The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme currently being piloted in the West Midlands by the Home Office makes it a legal requirement for landlords to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and to retain a copy of their proof of identity and citizenship – something which is essentially making landlords extensions of the border patrol.

The risk of migrants and BME people, including international students, facing further discrimination in housing under this scheme is a serious concern, with the threat of 'foreign looking' or 'foreign sounding' tenants being avoided by landlords entirely because they are a 'risk' demographic.

Students and young people have pointed out that there doesn’t seem to be a strong, established and united counter movement to this. However, if deemed a 'successful' trial, the scheme will be rolled out nationally.

One local academic I spoke to commented: ‘For too long anti-racist activism has separated themselves from the immigration debate, although the two issues are more often than not intertwined. Activists need to wake up to this and unite’ while NUS’ International Students’ Officer Shreya Paudel has added that ‘resisting the landlord scheme is vital to the students movement’ and that ‘the scheme has a huge potential of inviting racism and xenophobia against students and people in general in society’.

In Birmingham we are building a cross-communal and intersectional regional collaboration that can combat local racist policy and stand up united in the face of hostility.

This includes young people, students, local academic, trade unionist, community groups and local activists. But we also need your involvement in this, regardless of whether you fit into either of the above categories or not, because this is a matter which affects all students, directly or indirectly.

For more information on any of the above, please contact Alaa on BirminghamACO@nus.org.uk.

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