Labour-led Islington Council has appointed Cllr Sue Lukes as Migrants Champion, in what is believed to be the first role of its kind in the UK.
Cllr Lukes will be looking at how the Council can build on its strong record of supporting people from migrant backgrounds. This will include helping them to connect with local services, and ensuring their needs are considered and voices heard in council policy.
Cllr Lukes was born in Islington, to a father who arrived on the Kindertransport. She has worked with migrants and refugees for over 40 years, and with many local and national voluntary organisations on migration and housing issues. She now directs a social enterprise advising local authorities across Europe on how they can make migration work for all communities. Cllr Lukes also chairs Music in Detention, a charity that helps people who have been detained express themselves through creativity.
Cllr Sue Lukes says:
“I am delighted to be appointed Islington’s first Migrants Champion. Islington has a proud history of standing up for the vulnerable, the dispossessed and those seeking a better life. People from across the globe call this borough home and our community is stronger because of them.
“Islington Labour will continue to challenge the Tory Government’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration. From supporting the Windrush Generation, to demanding EU Citizens’ rights are immediately guaranteed, to welcoming refugees, we strongly believe that everyone, regardless of their background, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
“Islington has a wonderful record on supporting migrants and refugees, and part of my role will be to encourage local authorities to join us in standing up for their rights. Our borough is also home to many organisations and individuals doing excellent work, and I am keen to hear from them about how we can go further to support migrants and refugees.”
In recent months, the Tory Government’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration has rightly been condemned for the impact it has had on people of the Windrush Generation. In response, Islington Council is exploring how it can work with staff and VCS partners to advise local people of the Windrush Generation and direct them to appropriate support.
Ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, Islington Labour has called on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of local people from other EU countries. Islington Labour councillors delivered a 1,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street as part of their campaign. The Council has also organised three joint advice sessions for residents about their residency options after Brexit, and created an advice page on the Council website following a motion backed by Islington Labour supporters.
At Full Council (5th July), Islington became the first London council to move a motion in support of These Walls Must Fall’s campaign to end indefinite detention. Earlier this year, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, wrote to the Home Secretary to raise concerns about the conditions at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.