Blog Archive

Sunday 5 November 2023

Liberty along with BARAC UK and others call for axrethink in the way police respond to mental health crises

Liberty, along with over thirty organisations and individuals  including Chair of BARAC UK,  Zita Holbourne, working on mental health, the criminal justice system, racial justice and civil liberties, has called for a rethink of the UK’s approach to responding to mental health crises.

               Artwork by Zita Holbourne 

The statement’s release coincides with the cut-off point at which the Metropolitan Police, under a new ‘right care right person’ policy, will stop responding to mental health calls unless there is seen to be a threat to life.

Signatories including the National Survivor User Network, INQUEST, and the United Families and Friends Campaign, as well as bereaved families of people who have died at the hands of the police or in mental health settings, welcome the news that police will have a reduced involvement in mental health calls. They note that police interactions can be extremely harmful and even deadly for a person experiencing mental health crisis, particularly people of colour.

At the same time, they say that current mental health provision is failing people, and that a new approach is needed which centers community care and tackles the root causes of mental ill-health and distress.


From November, as announced by Sir Mark Rowley earlier this year, the Metropolitan police will stop responding to mental health calls except where there is seen to be a threat to life.

We believe that police intervention should not be the standard response to mental health crises. We are also aware that mental health services can be inadequate and often mirror the harms people face in police custody and following police contact. While we welcome a reduction in police involvement in mental health crises, we need an approach that genuinely prioritises peoples’ safety and wellbeing.

That can only come from investment in mental health support – including support that comes from community-based organisations – and for the government to tackle the root causes of mental ill-health and distress, which often stem from inequality and poverty.

The police, when responding to people in mental health crises, routinely criminalise, punish and dehumanise people, sometimes resulting in deaths. Over the last year, figures show that the majority of deaths in or following police custody or contact, involved mental health concerns. One tragic example is the case of Oladeji Omishore. Police tasered Omishore, a 41 year old Black man experiencing a mental health crisis in public, multiple times, after which he fell into the Thames and drowned. Omishore is not alone: the harm of police responses to mental health crises falls most acutely on Black people, who are more likely to be perceived as ‘dangerous’ when experiencing distress in public spaces.

However, it is also clear that the current model of mental health service provision for people experiencing mental distress is too often inadequate or violent, and can be just as fatal as police intervention. From 24-hour blanket surveillance to physical or chemical restraint, all too often the structures of mainstream mental health care mirror the violence and harms of policing – and these too tend to fall hardest on Black people. Instead of systems which often subject those in need of support to brutal treatment and cultures of abuse and neglect, we need to imagine and fund alternatives where there is genuine care and people have real choice about what their care looks like.

In the first instance, we need to create models of care that are based in communities and responsive to people’s needs. Crisis or Soteria houses are an example of community-based, ‘non-coercive’ crisis care. They aim to create a place of sanctuary grounded in the idea of standing alongside people and supporting their autonomy, instead of subjecting people to a system of care in which they have little voice or choice.

We also need to look at how we can prevent people from reaching crisis points in the first place. From housing to education, austerity in the UK has stripped away the support that allows people to live without constant stresses like poverty, inequality and deprivation. This has pushed more and more people towards crisis – and then the government has handed more powers to the police to clamp down on the consequences. This is a regressive and harmful approach which must be reversed.

In short, we call for a rolling-back of police powers so that no-one in crisis is harmed or killed by the police. We call for a rethink of the way in which we respond to people in crisis, and the proper funding of alternatives that centre care, choice and dignity. And we call for austerity cuts to be reversed and public services to be fully funded, so that people and communities have the resources they need to ensure that fewer people experience distress and crisis.

Jen Beardsley, Interim CEO, National Survivor User Network (NSUN)
Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST
Akiko Hart, Interim Director, Liberty
Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Justice for Gaia
United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC)
Zita Holbourne, National Chair & Co-founder, BARAC UK
Katrina Ffrench, Director, UNJUST
Carla Ecola, Director, The Outside Project
Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release
Selma Taha, Executive Director, Southall Black Sisters
Jess Southgate, Deputy Chief Executive, Agenda Alliance
Monty Moncrieff MBE, Chief Executive, London Friend
Gloria Morrison, Campaign Coordinator, JENGbA
Sally Zlotowitz, CEO, Art Against Knives
Liz Fekete, Director, Institute of Race Relations

Cassandra Harrison, CEO, Youth Access

Jay Stewart, CEO, Gendered Intelligence
Elodie Berland, Director, Streets Kitchen
Sonya Ruparel, Chief Executive, Women in Prison
Kevin Blowe, Campaigns Coordinator, Network for Police Monitoring (NETPOL)
Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs, Stonewall
Fair Trials
Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Pavan Dhaliwal, CEO, Revolving Doors
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Chief Executive, Black Equity Organisation
Laurence Jay, Interim Co-CEO, The Runnymede Trust
Quakers in Criminal Justice
Cradle Community
Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
Janey Starling and Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Co-Directors, Level Up
Andrea Simon, Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW)
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid
Gisela Valle, Director, Latin American Women’s Rights Service
Sarah Hill, CEO, IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services)

Andy Bell, CEO, Centre for Mental Health


(Reposted from Liberty)

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Two leading PCS union black activists resign from PCS Left Unity after being told 'We Don't Do Black for Blacks sake'

 Two of our highly respected BARAC representatives, National Officer and founding member of BARAC,  Hector Wesley and BARAC activist Tracey Hylton, who are also both well known, long standing, senior union representatives in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have today, the final day of Black History Month UK 2023, resigned from the PCS Left Unity grouping they were both members of.

BARAC UK colleagues were shocked and horrified to learn that in response to an expression of one black Left Unity member, expressing an interest in standing for election to a senior position, they were responded to by being told that 'we don't do black for black's sake'  and that this was supported by others. When white candidates put themselves forward they were not told, 'we don't do white for white's sake' so why was the colour of a black person  referred to as a reason not to support their potential candidature, disregarding their knowledge, experience, expertise and ability to do the job? 

Our full solidarity with  our Sister Tracey and Brother Hector,  we are united in struggle always. 

In the resignation statements from them below, they explain the reasons they have resigned and why they will not be re-standing for election to the PCS Union National Executive, a huge loss  to the union.

Hector Wesley

Why I have resigned from PCS Left Unity by Hector Wesley

After 28 years of membership – going back to when I joined NUCPS Broad Left in the 1990s - I have

resigned from PCS Left Unity. This is a decision that I have wrestled with for several months.

However truth be told the events that took place at a meeting of the Left Unity NEC Caucus on 17

May 2023 meant that at some point my departure from PCS Left Unity was inevitable. I will go into

more detail shortly about what transpired that day and subsequently.

I have made the firm decision in the last few days that I will not be voting for Fran Heathcote to be

PCS General Secretary (GS) or for Paul O’Connor to be PCS Assistant General Secretary (AGS). In

these circumstances I must leave the organisation. I do want to make clear that I have not sought or

been made any offers by either the Broad Left Network or the Independent Left, to encourage me to

make this decision. I will not be seeking to join either organisation.

I am currently in my 20th consecutive year as a member of the PCS National Executive Committee.

Earlier this month I advised PCS Left Unity that I did not intend seeking re-election at the end of my

current term of office. It is unlikely that I will change my mind about that.

PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held 17 May 2023

That morning, the PCS NEC met virtually as it usually does a few days prior to PCS Conference. Just

before the meeting broke for lunch, Mark Serwotka announced that he was retiring a year before

the end of his term of office. A few minutes after the NEC broke for lunch, I got a phone call from

Fran. She explained that she had known in advance about Mark’s intention to retire and that she

was intending to stand for PCS General Secretary on a joint ticket with Paul O’Connor for PCS

Assistant General Secretary. I thanked Fran for doing me the courtesy of telling me prior to the Left

Unity NEC Caucus meeting that was shortly about to start.

At the caucus meeting I said that I accepted that Fran was pretty much unassailable in terms of

securing the Left Unity nomination for PCS General Secretary. In respect of PCS Assistant General

Secretary I said that there should be further discussion as I thought that within Left Unity there are a

number of people who are more than capable of undertaking the role. I said that I would be taking

soundings about whether I should stand. I made no reference to my ethnicity when I spoke.

One other NEC member said that I should be considered. However it was clear to me that the vast

majority of those present at the caucus meeting were firm in their support of Paul O’Connor. One

NEC member – who I will not name - stated the following regarding the prospect of me standing for

PCS Assistant General Secretary:

“We don’t do black for black sake.”

I genuinely thought that the person who made this comment misspoke and hence I sought

clarification by posting a message in the caucus WhatsApp group. The person concerned replied

making clear that they didn’t misspeak. Their WhatsApp message was liked by 3 other NEC


I knew then that my days as a member of Left Unity were numbered. While I did not say so until a

few days later, I had come to the view that I was not going to seek the Left Unity nomination for PCS

Assistant General Secretary.

As a longstanding activist I am used to dealing with hostile situations. However I did not expect such

a comment to be made towards me in a meeting like that. It is why it has really stuck with me. I

thought about the comment during the PCS Black Members Seminar which took place a few days

ago. I wonder if the PCS National Executive Committee really will be supportive of some of the

initiatives that were discussed at that meeting.

Left Unity National Committee meetings

On the evening of 17 May the Left Unity National Committee (LUNC) met to discuss the timetable for

the selection of the Left Unity candidates for PCS General Secretary and PCS Assistant General

Secretary. I was content that the process agreed at the meeting was fully consistent with the Left

Unity Rulebook.

In the following days, several LUNC members said they couldn’t stand by what was agreed as they

believed that the opposition were mobilising quickly to confirm their candidates. They thought that

candidates seeking the Left Unity nomination needed to declare by the close of PCS Annual Delegate


The LUNC therefore met again on the evening of 22nd May in Brighton. I explained to fellow LUNC

members that up until this point no communication had been issued by Left Unity to its members

regarding the GS or AGS elections. I therefore could not agree with Left Unity members having less

than 4 days to submit nominations. I believed that members should have at least a week. I then said

that if we are going to accelerate the timetable then we will have to agree that candidates can self-

nominate rather than the usual practice of needing to secure the support of at least one Left Unity


While I was glad that the LUNC agreed with what I suggested, I was conscious that it was not fully in

accordance with the Left Unity Rulebook. I refer to this because several PCS Revenue & Customs

Group Executive Committee (GEC) Members, who resigned from Left Unity recently, told me that

the manner in which Left Unity selected its candidates for PCS General Secretary and PCS Assistant

General Secretary elections was one of the factors in their decision to resign. One GEC member told

me that they did not receive the bulk email issued to Left Unity inviting nominations. They were

therefore surprised when they saw the announcement on the Left Unity website on 30th May that

Fran and Paul had been selected unopposed.

I do regret not sticking with what the LUNC originally agreed on 17th of May.

TUC Black Workers Conference

The day after PCS Annual Delegate Conference 2023, I went to TUC Black Workers Conference as

part of the PCS delegation. Numerous delegates from other unions, approached me unsolicited that

weekend, to ask if I was standing for either PCS General Secretary or PCS Assistant General

Secretary. The reaction I got when I told them that I was not, was interesting. I was gratified that

several senior officials from other unions thought that I was capable of undertaking either role.

During the conference the Chair of the PCS National Black Members Committee asked me why I was

wearing my Arsenal top. I told him that being an Arsenal supporter over the years, I have learned

how to deal with frustration and disappointment and hence I thought it appropriate.



I am a member of Unity, which is an organised group within PCS Left Unity. I do need to express my

gratitude to them for the support they have given me. I appreciate the fact that they were prepared

to support me in standing for PCS Assistant General Secretary.

One of the reasons why I have wrestled with the decision to resign from PCS Left Unity, is that I am

conscious that my resignation will make Unity’s position within PCS Left Unity more difficult. It is

problematic if an increasing number of Unity members are not members of PCS Left Unity.

Candidates Hustings

I firmly believe that if you hold or are seeking high union office you have to be willing to debate your


I do recall that circa 2006 when I attended the Bootle St Johns House Branch AGM as an NEC guest

speaker, fellow NEC member Jake Wilde was also there and I was asked to debate him regarding the

future of PCS. The chair of the branch was Paul O’Connor and he told me that members would find a

debate entertaining.

I had hoped that during the current General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary elections, I

would be similarly entertained. However it seems that I am going to be disappointed. I have seen an

email sent by Paul to the Chair of the PCS London & South East Regional Committee stating that

neither him nor Fran will take part in any further hustings. This has crystallised my intentions as to

who I will be voting for.

The PCS London & South East Regional Committee are trying to organise a virtual hustings meeting

next week immediately prior to the ballot opening. In order to maximise attendance the Committee

asked PCS HQ if an email could be sent to members in the Region including an Eventbrite link they

could use if they wanted to attend. PCS refused this request.

I do commend the TSSA Union. In their recent General Secretary election their union HQ organised a

hustings meeting for the candidates and they have uploaded a recording of the meeting to YouTube.


For me the Fran and Paul campaign have made too many missteps. The motion A50 issue could have

been handled far better. A simple acknowledgment that a mistake was made, would I think, have

dissipated much of the unhappiness. The statement they issued in response to the resignations from

Left Unity within Revenue & Customs was distinctly problematic. For one thing it did lead to further resignations.

I take no pleasure in saying this, but I do believe that Marion Lloyd and John Moloney have

campaigned better. Both in my view have expressed a greater willingness to subject themselves to


I am comfortable in voting for John Moloney to be re-elected as PCS Assistant General Secretary. I

am aware that concerns have been expressed about the stance of the Alliance for Workers Liberty

on several international issues. However the PCS NEC have agreed for a number of years for John to

have the International portfolio.

I believe that John has done a good job in the last few years. The one minor criticism I will make is

that he has undersold some of the achievements that he has made. As an example he recently

secured a concession from the Cabinet Office relating to paid time off for safety reps that I was

previously told by PCS HQ was not possible.

My working relationship with John has been better than it has been with Paul and that is a factor in

my personal decision.

I do have my misgivings about Marion Lloyd and when she approached me seeking my support, I

told her what these are. She is a member of the Socialist Party and I am concerned that were she to

become General Secretary her party will have undue influence over how PCS is run. In response she

said that she thought that I have known her long enough not to be concerned about that.

I have known Marion for decades and while I have had disagreements with her, I believe that I can

take her at her word. Some may think I am naive for saying that and that’s fine.

Deciding to vote for Marion and not Fran has been difficult for me. Given the importance of these

elections, abstaining is not an option for me. On a personal level I quite like Fran and if she is elected

as General Secretary I will congratulate her and wish her well. I have decided to vote for Marion

because in my overall objective assessment I think that she is the better candidate.

The good thing about democracy is that my vote does not have any more weight than that of any

other PCS member. I hope that all PCS members participate of the upcoming elections.

Tracey Hylton

I have decided to resign from Left Unity with immediate effect. 

This is something I have been thinking about for quite a while.

 I have found In recent days, it has been on my mind increasingly more, and I have certainly not made this decision lightly.

I have been uncomfortable regarding the process or lack of real democracy in regards to members having a choice for AGS candidate since May.

 This and other factors, with a heavy heart , have led me to believe at this moment in time leaving is best.

I have just partly chaired the PCS National Black Members Seminar and delivered a Workshop on Passing the Baton. I made it clear that it is crucial to not just have the skills but to have political understanding , and good support networks as a Black Activist. 

Although we are a global majority, in the UK we are still a minority, and thus, we can be held back by numbers alone. Allies are also essential.

 I have seen other brilliant Black Trade Unionists leave in recent years, and I stand on the shoulders of giants. 

I will continue in my activism and my current Trade Union roles, delivering for members as I always have done. 

I was delighted to be re-elected as Vice Chair of the PCS National Black Members Committee last week, and I am fully committed to continuing and increasing my work in this role, and will remain available to offer support and mentoring  to anyone who asks. 

I have not quit. I have stood up. 

I will not be standing for re-election to the NEC next year. However, like many Black Actvists, I still have e many roles inside and out of the union. 

I have not been approached by or agreed to stand for positions on any other slate.

I stand with long time Comrade Hector and it is fitting to leave on the last day of Black History Month 2023.   

Black History Happens Every Day. 
Solidarity to all Black comrades. 
The struggle is real. 

Saturday 12 August 2023






To the Prime Minister:

The Society of Black Lawyers

The Society of Asian Lawyers

The Association of Muslim Lawyers

Operation Black Vote

Blak Sox 

Barac UK

We believe the Government’s inflammatory comments calling immigration lawyers “lefty lawyers" is inexcusable when these lawyers have a duty to protect and act in the best interests of their clients.

The Government rhetoric about “lefty lawyers” is increasing the risk of harm to those individuals. We find it abhorrent that a top Human Rights Lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie is now being labelled in the press as the lawyer who is “stopping the boats.”

It has been quoted that the Government sent out a dossier that contained many inaccuracies to the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express. The Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick went as far as giving a radio interview where he repeatedly referred to advisers who were blocking the immigration process but bizarrely wouldn’t name the person, yet he told the presenter to read the article. This act can be described as 'adding fuel to the fire' as the Government has shown that they condone the contents of the article.

The Government has repeatedly behaved in an appalling manner, fanning hatred against minorities by repeatedly making statements by its ministers which just do that - fuel hatred. 

Why does the Conservative Government think it appropriate to target a woman who is reported to have taken security precautions since the articles were published after receiving “an ominous” email. This is appalling and shameful behaviour for a government that says it protects its citizens.

Ms McKenzie spends 90% of her time working on Windrush cases and has also sat on the independent advisory group with Sajid Javid regarding the Windrush Learned Lessons Review. So why the demonisation of Ms McKenzie? 

The reality is that this Government and its race baiting Home Secretary is presiding over a failed system with a backlog of 166,100 cases awaiting a first decision, with a success rate of 76% of cases due to international persecution. The vast majority of migrants are lawfully entitled to claim asylum under the Geneva Convention and have an 80% plus chance of being successful.  Over 50% of cases refused by the Home Office are allowed on appeal by Immigration Judges.

We welcome the Law Society and Bar Council’s statement in relation to this but more needs to be done to protect human rights lawyers that are abiding by the rule of law and are acting in the best interests of their clients. We stand with Jacqueline McKenzie and all the other lawyers that are lawfully helping those that are vulnerable and traumatised by Government policies that sometimes infringe on their human rights.

Peter Herbert O.B.E, Chair, Society of Black Lawyers states:

"As a former Immigration Judge the targeting of Jacqueline McKenzie is a libellous and dangerous attack on her professional integrity. The Rwandan deportation scheme has been declared unlawful by the Court of Appeal. Anyone who knows the Geneva Convention is aware this Government policy has nothing to do with "stopping the boats" but all about diversionary "culture war" rhetoric designed to avoid discussing a reduction in the huge Tory generated backlog in deciding asylum cases."

Frances Swaine, Solicitor states 

“The rule of law is crucial in a democracy, and fairness and equality are the basis for society. Where central government + media attack an individual lawyer for upholding the rule of law, this is dangerous for the individual, and for the rest of us.” 

Zita Holbourne, Chair of BARAC UK – Human Rights Campaigner states:

“Jacqueline McKenzie is a highly respected senior and experienced lawyer who has done important work in the quest for justice, representing vulnerable people facing the worse types of discrimination and human rights abuses. Her work on the Windrush Scandal is to be commended. This atrocious attack by the Government is irresponsible, putting Ms McKenzie at risk of danger and is racist in intent. All people are entitled to representation in the judicial system and this targeting of Ms McKenzie and other lawyers representing racialised people in human rights cases will not be tolerated."

Yours sincerely, 

Viv Ahmun Founder ( Blaksox)

Peter Herbert OBE (Barrister and retired judge)

Zita Holbourne Barac UK (Chair) 

Lee Jasper Chair (Alliance for Police Accountability)  

Attiq Malik (Society of Asian Lawyers) 

Frances Swaine Solicitor 

David Weaver Chair (Operation Black Vote)


For further information please contact:

D Peter Herbert OBE – SBL 07973 794 946

Lee Jasper 07984181797

Thursday 6 July 2023

Zita Holbourne has been shortlisted for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards


Zita Holbourne has been shortlisted for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards 

Zita Holbourne from London  has been shortlisted for the Lifetime Achiever Award at the National Diversity Awards 2023.

 Hailed as the Golden Globes of the diversity world, The National Diversity Awards will be hosted by world renowned broadcaster, author, presenter and journalist Clare Balding CBE. “I'm so looking forward to hosting these awards and giving everyone the chance to celebrate the substantial achievements of our fabulously diverse community across  a whole range of industries, businesses and charities,” says Clare Balding CBE. “It's an important spotlight on those who make the world a better place for the full rainbow of society.” An astonishing 90,000 people nominated this year alone and the results are finally in for the National Diversity Awards (NDA), with 120 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide. 

Community organisations and role models from across the UK will head to the breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 15th September to witness the countries 2023 winners being crowned the best of British diversity. Amongst those being honoured are charities, campaigners and activists, all of whom work tirelessly to combat injustice and discrimination in very different ways.

Zita Holbourne shortlisted for the Lifetime Achiever Award said;     

"I am delighted and feel honoured to be shortlisted for the Lifetime Achiever Award, in recognition of my work across decades for equality, justice,  human and workers rights through activism and arts. The path of an activist / campaigner is not an easy one  but I have dedicated my life to these causes dear to my heart in order  to challenge barriers which discriminate and marginalise, to make the world a more equal and better place for all."

Donna Guthrie, National Women's Officer,  BARAC UK said;

“Zita has been a tireless campaigner and champion for equality, freedom and justice over many decades, dedicating her life to improving the lives of others in society, locally and internationally. It is extremely fitting that she has been shortlisted for the Lifetime Achievers Award by the judges of the National Diversity Awards 2023"

Hector Wesley, PCS National Executive Committee member said;

“Zita being shortlisted for a Lifetime Achiever Award is deserved recognition of her hard work and dedication over many years in a variety of fields.”

Zita Holbourne FRSA,  is a multi-award winning equality and human rights campaigner, community activist and trade union leader. She has played a key role in exposing the Windrush Scandal and campaigning  for justice for the Windrush Generation.  She is the National Chair and co-founder  of BARAC UK, Joint National Chair of Artists' Union England, a trustee of ACTSA, founding member of African, Caribbean and Asian Lawyers For Justice, an author and multidisciplinary artist,  producing work as a visual artist, poet, writer, vocalist and curator. In 2012 Zita won the Positive Role Model for Race Award at the National Diversity Awards.

Direct Line Group, Auto Trader and The British Army have recently been announced as sponsors of the pioneering awards that have paid tribute to thousands of grass root groups and diversity champions since its inception. ITV News are also listed amongst a host of companies showcasing their support to recognising diverse talent, providing a platform to our unsung heroes. 

Louise Bailey, I&D Accelerator at OVO Energy said: 

“We are proud to support the National Diversity Awards and recognise positive role models and organisations who are leading the way when it comes to inclusion. This allows us to celebrate all the wonderful people dedicated to building belonging and recognise their work so that we can thank them and learn from them.” 

Designed to highlight the country's most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA's continue to gain endorsements from high profile figures such as Sir Lenny Henry CBE and Graham Norton. Activist Katie Piper, Emmerdale star Ash Palmisciano and Paralympic Gold Medallist Danny Creates were on this year’s judging panel, dedicating their time to help choose the highly anticipated shortlist.

 “Once again, I’m humbled by the sheer number of nominations we have received for individuals, groups and organisations showing outstanding commitment to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion.,” says Paul Sesay, CEO of Inclusive Companies and founder of the National Diversity Awards. “These Awards aim to celebrate the unsung heroes who are changing perceptions and lives through their dedication and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, they seek to inspire the next generation of diversity champions to be brave, stand up and make a difference to their communities.” 

To view a full list of nominees please visit



Tuesday 24 January 2023

The Right to Protest is a Human Right

BARAC UK with 73 other social justice groups, charities  and campaign organisations  are calling on the House of Lords to vote down the Public Order Bill’s anti-protest measures next Monday.

Access the briefing here.


Saturday 3 December 2022

Sign our petition to stop the BBC axing Black and Asian radio shows, model MP letter


Sign the petition here:

Write to your MP, you can use the model wording below and feel free to add something  about the personal impacts on you.

Please ensure you include your full postal address at the end so your MP can see that you are their constituent.

If you don't know who your MP is or how to contact them,  you can find their details here using your postcode:

Model letter


I am writing to you to ask that you lend your voice to the campaign to stop the BBC cutting Black and Asian BBC local  radio shows.

These radio shows are very important to our communities, cuts impact not only on listeners but on the  predominantly Black and Asian workers employed by the BBC, working ok these programmes. 

It is essential that the BBC provides a service to all  and that it is not allowed to simply disregard Black and Asian communities and workers in this way. 

As a public broadcaster the BBC is accountable to the public and communities and also has to comply with its equality responsibilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty. There appears to have been no Equality Impact Assessment conducted
and no consultation with communities impacted has taken place as part of this.

I would be grateful if you were to write to the BBC to raise concerns.

I refer you to the petition by campaigner Zita Holbourne  here;

and the open letter by BEO which some MPs have signed here;

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Address with postcode

Friday 2 September 2022

BARAC UK co-organises National protests against Rwanda Deal, Sunday 4th of September


BARAC UK is part of the Action Against Detention and Deportations group. We have organised solidarity protests at detention centres over the coming days and weeks.

Please see press release below for more info.

Action Against Detention and Deportations Press Release 

2nd September 2022

*For immediate release*

Hundreds are expected to attend the demonstrations at immigration removal centres (IRCs) across the UK to show solidarity with people in detention threatened with removal to Rwanda. The demonstrations will take place on the weekends before and after the High Court judicial review hearing on the Rwanda policy, which begins on 5th September. 

  • Demonstrations will take place on 4th September outside Colnbrook IRC near Heathrow Airport and at the Short Term Holding Facility near Manchester Airport. 

  • On 10th September a demonstration will take place at Yarl’s Wood IRC, which has been used historically to detain women but since 2020 has been used primarily to detain people arriving by small boats across the Channel. 

  • The demonstrations will all begin at 3pm. Further details can be found on the Action Against Detention and Deportations website.

The demonstrations are being organised by Action Against Detention and Deportations, a coalition of groups and individuals, committed to ending the “inherently unjust practices” of detention and deportation, and dismantling the wider “hostile environment” against migrants [1]. 

The coalition, which includes groups such as All African Women’s Group, BARAC UK, Global Justice Now, and SOAS Detainee Support, has decades of collective experience campaigning against detention and deportation and for refugee and migrant rights. They state the Rwanda policy is a “racist, punitive, and illegal move by the Conservative government” [1]. They believe that alongside ongoing legal proceedings, public opposition is urgent and crucial in light of reports that new Rwanda removal notices are being handed out and that the Home Office is planning another flight [2].

Demonstrators, including women asylum seekers at risk of being detained and removed to Rwanda, will describe their experiences and express their outrage at the policy [3], which targets women and men seeking sanctuary from persecution, conflict, rape and other life-threatening situations, including climate displacement. 

The government’s attempt at an initial flight to Rwanda on 14th June was grounded after widespread protest, condemnation, and an eventual injunction from the European Court of Human Rights [4]. Those forced onto the plane were treated with appalling brutality. Surrounded by security escorts, they were handcuffed, restrained, and utterly terrified [5]. Demonstrators will demand that this traumatic process never happens again. Further protests took place at seven detention sites across the UK in July after rumours emerged of a planned second flight [6].


A detainee who has been given removal notice to Rwanda* said: “They tell me I must go to Rwanda. Believe me, if I thought Rwanda was a safe option I would have gone there. And if I thought I would be safe in my country I would go back there in an instant.” 

Gloria Peters, a member of All African Women’s Group, said: As African women, we know that Rwanda isn't safe. The genocide has left an indelible mark. Many of us are survivors of rape and other torture and our lives will be at risk there. Our countries have been bombed, our lands and homes destroyed, our wealth stolen. We have a right to be here.”

Zita Holbourne, National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, said: "This vile policy of targeting vulnerable people who have already had to flee for their lives and dumping them in Rwanda is inhumane and breaches international human rights laws. It is also racist in intent, targeting Black and Brown people, who have found themselves with no other choice but to arrive in the UK by small boats, already experiencing post traumatic stress because of the reason they had to flee and the perilous journeys they have encountered. We have a collective responsibility to resist and stand up against such systemic racism and injustice."

Joseph Maggs, Coordinator of SOAS Detainee Support (SDS), said: The Rwanda plan is the British state’s latest attempt to dehumanise and marginalise people who have fled persecution, war, poverty, climate catastrophe and other forms of life-threatening violence. Seeking sanctuary and a better life, the government wants to permanently expel them to a country they have never been to. This policy is a violent attack on the asylum system, an expansion of the Hostile Environment, and aims to stoke divisions in a deeply unequal society. Despite ongoing legal proceedings, the Home Office is reported to be planning another Rwanda flight. We stand with our migrant brothers and sisters and will not allow anyone to be deported under this brutal plan, which is rooted in Britain's ongoing history of racism and colonialism."

Zrinka Bralo, Chief Executive Director of Migrants Organise, said: “We have had enough. The Rwanda sham is the latest cruel expansion of Britain’s Hostile Environment immigration system. It undermines the most basic principles of refugee protection. This year marks ten years since the Hostile Environment was embedded into policy, building on a colonial legacy of state racism to criminalise migrants and deny us our dignity and freedom. But the state’s legacy of violence is matched by our legacy of resistance. We know that when we take action together, a better world is possible. We need every person who believes in dignity and justice to take solidarity action now - there can be no bystanders in the face of this cruel, inhuman and shameful Rwanda sham.


For requests or more information, contact:

Joseph Maggs, SOAS Detainee Support (SDS): Tel: 07810158502. 

Cristel Amiss, Global Women Against Deportations: Email: Tel: 07456525227.

Zita Holbourne, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK: Email: Tel: 07856181953.


[1] Action Against Detention and Deportations, Statement, 2 September 2022.

[2] Diane Taylor, “Home Office planning new deportation flight to Rwanda”, Guardian, 25 August 2022.

[3] Home Office, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and Rwanda, 14 April 2022.

[4] Diane Taylor and Rajeev Syal, “Day of drama and despair before Rwanda flight called off”, Guardian, 15 June 2022.

[5] May Bulman and Bel Trew, “‘Like I was going to be executed’: On board the failed Rwanda deportation flight”, Independent, 16 June 2022. 

[6] Bethany Rielly, “End the brutal Rwanda policy, protesters demand”, Morning Star, 15 July 2022.


*Name has not been given to protect identity 


Action Against Detention and Deportations is a coalition of groups and individuals committed to ending detention, deportations and the wider “hostile environment” against migrants. Our members stand in solidarity with people seeking sanctuary in the UK, and some are at risk of being removed to Rwanda themselves. Members of our coalition have decades of collective experience campaigning against detention and deportation and for refugee and migrant rights. 

The groups involved are: