Refugees, Asylum-seekers & the Media Project Bulletin

Bulletin No 14, 27 April 2000


  • Introducing our new project co-ordinator
  • RAM goes to Paris
  • Communicate with Barbara Roche
  • Direct action in Birmingham & London
  • RAM Research Network
  • RAM report back
  • Useful websites

Introducing our new project co-ordinator
Funding for the RAM budget from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is now exhausted, but PressWise Trustees want to ensure that the voice of refugees and asylum-seekers are heard in the media and have agreed to underwrite the project while fresh funds are sought.

West Midlands based journalist Terry Williams, a member of the NUJ Ethics Council, has been appointed by PressWise to develop communication networks in dispersal cluster areas, following the success of similar events in Leeds and Birmingham. PressWise Director Mike Jempson remains in overall charge of the project, with consultants Nick Cater and Hildegard Dumper as advisors.

Over the next few months Terry hopes to arrange Communications Days for refugee/asylum seekers’ organisations and their support groups in East Midlands, Wales and North-West & North-East and Media Training workshops in the Birmingham and Leeds. If you want to take part, contact him c/o

NB. The Media Trust has organised a meeting between community organisations and media executives from Carlton TV, local radio and the Birmingham Evening Mail, on Wed 10 May. It costs £35 a head. Places can be booked from Nigel Gregory Business Development Co-ordinator, Tel: 020 7874 7609; Fax: 020 7874 7644; Email:

RAM goes to Paris
The RAM Project will be making its presence felt at the Biannual
Delegate Meeting of the European Council for Refugees and Exiles, at the Hotel Ibis in Paris, 12 – 14 May. The theme of the event is ‘Refugees in Europe: Campaigning, Public Awareness and the Media’, and PressWise Director Mike Jempson and former Project Co-ordinator Nick Cater will be running media workshops and providing advice for delegates. For more information visit

Communicate with Barbara Roche
Current controversy about the use of prejudicial language by politicians and journalists, and the cynical way both have blamed the other for stirring up race hatred makes effective communications and accurate and unequivocal information all the more important. Although the Home Office has not budgeted for media work as part of the One Stop Shop service for asylum-seekers and refugees, it is clearly anxious about the risks attached to relocating vulnerable people into hostile environments – and the need for organised action to defend asylum seekers – as can be seen from this largely overlooked section from its consultation document on dispersal:
2.19 Freedom from Fear
2.19.1 Refugees, by definition, have suffered before their flight to safety. It is of primary importance that refugees, their communities and existing local populations can live together comfortably and successfully free from fear and insecurity. Development of partnerships should help communication generally and be linked to programmes to promote positive attitudes towards those in receipt of protection among other communities and groups. The identification of likely community leaders, who will be both male and female, within refugee groups to help promote self-development could contribute to regional networks and assist communication within refugee communities. A communications strategy should be drawn up by local stakeholder groups to support the integration process and to promote racial harmony.

The RAM Project understands that Barbara Roche, the Minister responsible, and her advisors, are still keen to hear about how such communication strategies should operate. PressWise would like to furnish her with some views from the grassroots. Send your comments and suggestions to by the end of April, if possible, so that we can produce an appropriate response.

Direct action in Birmingham & London
There were successful demos outside newspaper offices on Thurs 13 April, organised by refugee support groups in protest about prejudicial coverage of refugees and asylum-seekers. One particular target for criticism, the Daily Mail, that day ran an editorial backing columnist Paul Johnson, who claimed that Simon Hughes MP and others who object to the way the debate is being conducted are enemies of free speech who are ‘playing the race card’. However the paper did give two pages to the personal stories of three ‘successful’ black refugees from the past – although their circumstances might not have made them eligible for asylum status under current laws.

RAM Research Network
Tammy Speers at the University of Cardiff is co-ordinating information about academic and other research projects concerned with media coverage of refugees. If you know of any work that is being conducted please let her know c/o Tammy is also reviewing the RAM survey of European refugee support groups. If you have not completed one of these survey forms you will find a downloadable copy on

RAM report back
We have produced a summary report of our activities over the last 6 months, and a programme of action for the future which was presented to a gathering of national agencies at the end of March. If you would like a copy of these reports, send your request c/o

RAM Databank
A selection of useful websites, most of which can be visited via the links page on this site:

Campaign Against Racism & Fascism
Diversity Online
Institute of Race Relations
The Media Trust
Refugee Council

If there are any other sites you think should be added please forward details to

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