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the Posters in Action

Below, you can find more detailed information on the content within each poster. 
The first design describes the story’s origin on a national level, beginning in 2015. The second focuses in on the role of local buroughs in the settlement plan, from 2015 through today. Poster three contains the proposal offered for the future of Greenwich, so that by 2020, the promise to settle 20 families will be fulfilled.  

Below: Poster 1 (note: white space is the canvas for projection)

POSTER 1: An International Crisis

In 2015, the refugee crisis facing Europe had reached staggering new levels. Hundreds of thousands of people had fled across the Mediterranean Sea to escape war and persecution, sparking heated political debate across the continent.

What level of humanitarian responsibility do we have to provide shelter and safety for the victims of violence?

In the UK, pressure for action was growing rapidly. The publication of jarring photography documenting these journeys had caused a public outcry. In particular, graphic images of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi, who died tragically along with his mother and brother in a failed attempt to flee to Greece by boat, made it clear that an immediate response was needed.

In light of this, former Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs “The whole country has been deeply moved by the heart-breaking images we have seen over the past few days.” He made a promise that the UK would “live up to its moral responsibility” by taking 20,000 refugees from the camps on the borders of Syria over the course of 5 years. (2015 – 2020).

He also stated that the pace at which the refugees would come to the UK would depend not only on the speed with thich the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) could identify refugees, but also how quickly local councils were able to process the applicants.

Below: Poster 2 (note: open white space is the canvas for projection)

Illustrations: Housing families on the map, Lights on / off 
Poster 2: the UK Responds  Content:

Local councils across the UK stepped up to the plate, pledging their tallies respectively. 

In general, community support for the resettling scheme was overwhelming. Many areas not only fulfilled their original promises; they increased them. Local charities and citizens’ groups’ grassroots activism spurred on the action.

For example, in Birmingham city, the original pledge was to settle 50 refugees. But after campaigns from community groups, especially Citizens UK, they eventually committed to 550.

According to FOI’s by the Guardian, “charities and faith groups” have been integral in “securing housing for the project, with roughly 30 local authorities saying housing was obtained partly or primarily through charities and faith groups making property available.”

However, not all councils have followed through so thoroughly.

This is certainly the case in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, one of the most multicultural boroughs of London. Despite a local council that celebrates diversity, progress has been slow.

In 2015, the pledge was made to settle 20 families by 2020, a more than reasonable goal. But no families were housed that year.  

In 2016, once again, no refugees were housed.

Finally, in 2017, thanks much in part to local activism, some progress was made. Two families were welcomed in December, and a third, in February of 2018.

Below: Poster 3 (note: the open white space is canvas for projection)

Illustrations: Poster 3, Families  arrive 

Poster 3: A Plan for the Future of Greenwich  

Citizens UK believes that “Community organising is democracy in action: winning victories that change lives and transform communities”

Greenwich Citizens UK, a local chapter of the national organization, epitomises this belief. The area is home to many charitable groups; they are an active community of dedicated people working tirelessly in the name of social justice through various causes.

Now, some of these teams are acting together in pursuit of a common goal: to fulfill the promise of settling 20 refugees locally by 2020.

On April 24th, 2018, Greenwich Citizens UK will host an election assembly. This assembly will provide the opportunity for the community to have their voices heard. They can state their cause to local politicians, and demand action.

In this arena, the lack of forward progress in the local housing of refugees will be addressed. A plan will be proposed.

That plan is: 6 families per year in 2018, 2019, & 2020 respectively. To carry this out, 5 more families must come by the end of December to reach the annual goal of 6.

And if this process of welcoming 6 families annually is repeated over the next two years, by the end of 2020, Greenwich will have fulfilled its pledge. When a promise is made, there must be follow through. In welcoming these families, the fabric of the community would only be strengthened, its reputation as a richly diverse and caring citizenry solidified.  Together, the people of Greenwich can make a difference.

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