The venue was small, and located at the head of a council estate in Balsall Heath, south-central Birmingham. Gentrification’s climbing tendrils were digging deep, with an antique bar serving upmarket elderflower and ginger drinks; a rustic aesthetic barely concealing this ‘hip’ establishment in the middle of a traditionally working-class area.
One Day Without Us was inspired by a rise in anti-migration and anti-refugee rhetoric and actions that has been building as a result of Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Over the past year, the national mood towards migrants has taken a sour turn.
Following vigorous national debate about the role of migrants in the UK after Brexit, there has been an upsurge in racially and religiously motivated hate crimes across the country. Racially motivated crimes have increased by 15 per cent since 2014/15, and religiously motivated crimes have increased by 34 per cent over the same period.
Migrants from Islamic countries also find their loyalty in question. Evidence submitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the government's counter-terrorism strategy in January 2016 has also said the Prevent program is "clearly suffering from a widespread problem of perception" and that "the lack of transparency in the operation of Prevent encourages rumour and mistrust to spread and fester."
Upstairs, three organisations had set out their leaflets, trinkets and freebies across the tables. I took the opportunity to talk with the representatives, to ask what the day was about, and why they had turned out that day: