The Status Now Network (SNN) was set up at the beginning of the pandemic when it became clear that many migrants would be badly affected and that the risk to their lives and livelihood would be huge. The founding organisations were very concerned that undocumented migrants would not seek access to healthcare for fear of being reported to the Home Office, detained and deported. We started to hear about migrants dying alone at home from Covid-19. We also knew that many would go hungry, especially those who rely on cash in hand to survive and those who do not have access to public resources. Due to the lock down, we knew that many migrants had lost the little but sometimes vital support from NGOs as well as the support they were getting from friends and contacts.

The government stated concern about the spread of the virus and wanting to control it and to protect public health. SNN founders discussed the argument that, in order to protect public health, it was essential to stop having any people who were not accessing health care and, later on, the vaccine.  This background created an opportunity to present and to call for regularisation for all undocumented migrants in the UK (including those in the legal process) on 20th March 2020. The call received support from a large number of people including migrant groups, charities, activists, local authorities, MPs and others.

Although, as yet, the SNN campaign has not achieved regularisation, it has contributed to the efforts leading to the government changing its policies and offering access to health care to all (without a proof of entitlement of identity) during the pandemic and, later on, access to vaccine when the vaccine became available. SNN can also be proud of the achievement of some of the member organisations who connected over 700 undocumented migrants online, offering safe spaces for people to communicate, raise issues of concerns and share information and support.

However, the opportunity the pandemic provided for the campaign is no longer viable. We are working now in a different context characterised by the:

  • the economic crisis
  • increasing government attack against the rights of migrants and refugees (and by a more general attack against democratic rights in this country)
  • increasing movements of protest against the government policy
  • shift in public opinion toward a more positive view of migrants and refugees.

The nationality and borders bill and the Rwanda plan show the persistence of the hostile environment with the further restriction of the rights of migrants and refugees in British law, and the hate speeches of Suella Braverman, defining people seeking asylum desperately looking for safety as ‘invaders’ that she ‘dreams’ to deport, promoting a culture of war and fuel racism in the country.

The scapegoating of migrants and refugees is used by the government to hide its failure to govern the country while new laws, such as the ‘Policy, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act’, have been introduced to limit the rights to protest.  Even the Human Rights Act is now under attack.

Despite the request for more immigrants to fill the shortage of workers coming from the business sector, the government insists on demonising immigrants and criminalising people seeking asylum, denying them shelter.

The pledge to stop small boats crossing the Channel, which Sunak listed in his five priorities, can only mean cancelling the right of asylum in the UK in the absence of alternative safe routes to enter the country.

The scapegoating of migrants and refugees, accused of being responsible for the economic crisis, impacts on sectors of the population influenced by the far right (Fascists and Proto Fascists) and fuels the violence of the shocking riots at hotels housing people seeking asylum that have multiplied, and been resisted, over the last year.

The government policy has faced increasing opposition and the Conservative party has lost credibility and consensus. Its immigration policy has been highly criticised. Despite the “dream” of Suella Braverman and the large amount of public money that she has spent in the Rwanda plan, not a single person has been deported there. The Home Office staff refused to breach human rights standards and the Public and Commercial Services Union together with SNN member Care4Calais, took legal action against the deportation plan which is still ongoing with the latest appeal. Forced by the pressure of the public opinion, several airlines have refused to deport people seeking asylums, and many demonstrations in solidarity with refugees have taken place all around the UK.

The demand for a fair immigration system coming from migrants and refugees’ organisations has gained significant consensus in the country. According to a recent report of the think tank IPPR, in 2022 around half of the public expressed positive views about the economic and cultural impacts of immigration, compared with around one-third in 2014. There is now more scope for a welcoming, flexible and fair migration system than many realise, and we need to build on this.

A large majority of the public now think that immigration supports rather than hinders economic recovery. Immigration is no longer considered a top priority by a population that is much more worried by the cost of living. The economic crisis is hitting hard, with 20% of the UK population living in poverty and an increasing number of homelessness, a stagnating economy and the highest level of inflation in the last four decades. Precarious immigrants, already living in destitution and with no recourse to public funds are the most hard hit by the crisis.

Protests demanding better living conditions and social justice are multiplying and an unprecedented number of strikes from all sectors (including for the first time the NHS) is taking place. In this new context we need to re-think how to develop our campaign, extending our network and alliances within the larger movement for social justice and making it clear that guaranteeing settlement status to all precarious migrants is an essential step toward social justice in the UK.


Aims and methodology

The national meeting (held in Solihull on 27-29th January 2023) was organised to get to know each other better after three years of online meetings, strengthen our network, and discuss how to develop our campaign in the changing political context.

It involved old members of Status Now Network and new people coming from our signatories and from the Friends of Status Now Facebook group.

The discussion started with the analysis of our story and the change of the political and social context we are operating in, and then it developed into a collective brainstorming on the activities of the network and its plan for the future, organised in small workshop groups and plenary sessions.  

All participants were involved and brought meaningful contributions. They included the personal experiences of people living in limbo (waiting for residence status even for more than 20 years) and suffering the hardship determined by the UK inhumane immigration system, as well as many suggestions on how to develop our campaign, and lead to better identity and articulation of the SNN strategy for the coming years.

We report below the main points of the discussion and the final decisions.

Discussion and working plan

Building on our successes and looking for further improvements

The creation of such a large national network (currently over 140 organisations) involving a plurality of subjects and many people with lived experience of the hostile environment is a clear success that SNN can be proud of, but surely it is not the only one.

People with insecure immigration status have found in the network a safe space where they feel encouraged, being part of a larger community.  This was particularly important during the pandemic and is still an important aspect of the network.

Fighting together we have reached some significant successes. We obtained access to healthcare and vaccines for everyone during the pandemic as mentioned before; since then our campaign has continued to increase awareness in the public opinion on the harsh conditions of undocumented and precarious migrants and has gained new supporters.

Nevertheless, we need to do more and make better use of our resources. Several people stressed the importance of build on existing relationships through:

  • increasing communication within the network
  • reducing the gatekeeping of information
  • sharing our resources to engage people and different communities
  • having more meetings together (not only online)
  • understanding our signatories (what are their skills, resources and capacities)
  • clarifying what their role is in the network.

Building on the existing relationships will also help to bring new people (and skills) onboard, further develop the network, establish new partnerships, and make our voice louder reaching a wider audience and a stronger impact on public opinion.

SWOT analysis


SNN is a large network that has rapidly expanded since its foundation, and it is still increasing. The network is made up of a variety of national and local organisations. They mostly include migrants and refugees’ organisations and their support groups, but also organisations from other important sectors of civil society (such as BFAWU and PCS and other branches of the Trade Union movement), that are spread across the country.

Many members of SNN are people with lived experience of the hostile environment. They know very well what it means not having a settled status in the UK, they experience this every day. Often, they have experienced all the troubles due to the lack of basic rights of this condition for many years. Their experience is at the heart of our work, their resilience and determination to defeat the hostile environment and obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain for all undocumented and precarious migrants is one of our main strengths.

Both these points were stressed in the discussion of the strategy weekend that also highlighted the presence of a mixture of various talented people in the network and their general passion and commitment to the campaign.

Finally gathering and discussing together in an in-presence meeting, getting to know each other after years of online meetings, further developed the passion and commitment of all the participants.  This is clearly demonstrated in the following discussion and in the final feedback, with many people showing increased enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to the development of the campaign.


The lack of funding and of a legal structure of the network seriously limits its activity and urgently needs to be resolved. Presently we are working on these problems looking for grants and preparing SNN’s application to become a community interest company (CIC).

Another point of weakness lies in our internal procedures that must be improved in order to guarantee that any possible problem or complaint within the network is rapidly clarified and resolved.

There is also the need to improve our communication strategy and have more people with lived experience speaking to the media. Precarious residence in the country and lack of legal protection generate fear and not everybody feels confident speaking to the public and telling their stories, but this weakness can be overcome with further development of our safeguarding policy and appropriate media training. Having more powerful voices denouncing the injustice and the suffering caused by the hostile environment will increase our impact on the public opinion and contribute to the success of our campaign.

Furthermore, we need to better articulate our strategy to develop and win the campaign.


The hard work of the migrants ‘rights movement and the clear failure of the government immigration system, now seen by many people as unjust and in-effective, have moved  public opinion toward a more relaxed view about current immigration levels (many think we should have the same or a higher number of immigrants) and a positive opinion about migrants’ contribution to the UK.

The antiracist movement has significantly developed and since 2020 (with the creation of its antiracist work force) the trade union movement has assumed an increasing role in it. Immigration is no longer a top priority in public opinion, people are much more worried of the cost-of-living/corporate greed crisis. There is a demand for social justice coming from many sectors of British society with increasing protests in defence of our democratic rights and asking for better living conditions and a greener future.

Many business sectors suffer labour shortages and the latest annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called on the government to use immigration to solve worker shortage. Its president, Tony Danker, declared that “immigration is the only thing that’s increased the potential growth of our economy”. In England, care is short of 165,000 workers and health needs 130,000; half of UK building firms are short staffed and a third of all UK firms lack a full complement of staff.

The government has lost credibility and consensus and, probably, we are going to have a Labour government in 2024, which potentially creates a more favourable context for our campaign. Furthermore, the forthcoming electoral campaign gives us the opportunity to press on the Labour and other parties for the inclusion of the rights of migrants and refugees in their electoral manifestos. According to the IPPR report mentioned above, a more liberal stance on immigration policy, corresponding with the current prevalent public opinion, would gain and not lose votes to the main parties. Labour could increase its votes by 3.6% and Conservative by 0.7%. On the contrary, a restrictive stance on immigration policy would make Labour lose 10% of votes and Conservative 0.3%.


It seems that political parties are not aware of the shift in the public opinion on migration policies. While the Conservative party persists in criminalising migrants and refugees and keeps reducing their rights, the Labour party maintains a very cautious position without playing any proper opposition to these policies. The criminalisation of migrants will probably not lead the Tory to win the next election, but it keeps vulnerable minorities exposed to hate speech and violence and tears our social fabric.

The government’s campaign against refugees and people seeking asylum nourishes the rise of racism and the far right, including fascist groups. The number of attacks on hotels housing people seeking asylums is increasing and the government uses them to further demonise people seeking asylum as the “cause” of these attacks, while aims to introduce additional measures to cancel the right of asylum in the UK.

The negative narrative about migrants and refugees is gaining increasing space in the mainstream media with the daily news on the Channel crossings and the Tory’s statements to stop them. While the country is facing the hardship of the economic crisis, suffering austerity and wage stagnation, the government tries to focus again the public opinion on migrants and refugees as the “responsible” of its own failure. Despite the opposition of grassroot movements, with increasing mobilisation in defence of people seeking asylums, a minority of the population ends up believing in the Tory’s rhetoric.

Aims and objectives

We position ourselves within the larger movement for social justice that has significantly developed and gained social consensus over the last years.

Everyone must live dignified life and there cannot be social justice if some of us are condemned to live in constant fear, precariousness and poverty. We fight for a human rights-based migration policy and giving indefinite leave to remain to all precarious migrants and refugees is an essential requirement of it.

Everyone must have the right to work, housing, access welfare benefits, public services and personal safety on the same basis as citizens.

Campaign strategy

We are working to extend and strengthen our network; develop new alliances; create a counter-narrative on migration and migrants that shows, through the evidence of the lived experience of thousands of people, the injustices of the government’s immigration policy and makes it clear how this policy is damaging the whole country, nourishing racism and social division, implementing work exploitation, and leaving businesses in trouble over the shortage of workforce.

We aim to involve in our campaign large sectors of civil society as well as MPs, peers and local authorities.

Target audience

∙       Migrants and refugees

We must fight together to change our conditions and live dignified lives. Precarious migrants are the most vulnerable but, in the hostile environment everyone can be made “irregular” as the Windrush scandal has shown.

We want to involve all precarious migrants and make their voices heard, but also want to involve settled migrants and their descendants as the hostile environment impacts on all of them.

∙       Social justice campaigners

They are our natural allies in the common fight for social justice and we need to join all our forces to defeat the Tory government and the hostile environment.

∙       Trade Unions

Migrant workers (including domestic workers) are workers and must have the same rights as other workers. Having settled status is the basic condition for this and the unity of workers is their strength to win better working conditions for everyone.

Important sectors of the Trade Union movement are already signatories of SNN and support our call for StatusNow4All. The creation of the Anti-Racism Task Force and of the more recent antiracist network are important advancements in the trade unions ‘commitment to fight against the hostile environment and any form of racism. We are working hard to further develop this alliance and ask all union’s branches to support our campaign.

∙       Religious groups

Many representatives of religious groups of different faiths have already repeatedly condemned the hostile environment and support in different ways destitute migrants and refugees. We have created a ‘Faith calling card’ that is on our website. We call all faiths to join our campaign for indefinite leave to remain for everyone.

∙       Businesses

UK businesses are in trouble because of a labour shortage and CBS is calling on the government for more immigrants to fill the vacancies. A third of all UK firms experience a shortage of workers and there are more than one million vacancies in the country.

People seeking asylum are not allowed to work, and the government spends millions to keep them in limbo and lodged in horrible housing conditions.

Giving indefinite leave to remain to all precarious migrants would help the businesses and the economy of the country.

∙       MPs and Peers

Precarious migrants live in their constituencies and their rights need to be protected with a change of law. Some MPs already supported our call during the pandemic, but we need to reach and involve many more of them to ensure that our call for ILR to all precarious migrants gets on the parliament agenda.

∙       Local councils

They cannot change national laws, but they can put pressure on the government to make this happen. Most importantly, they play a crucial role in supporting their local communities to welcome people who are making the UK their home and can work to make sure that all locals, with no regard to their immigration status, can access support when they need it. We aim to develop our regional work in all the areas of the country and, working together with local councils, create friendly and inclusive environments.

  • University students and academics

Social justice should be a crucial point in any educational programme.

Many academics have already analysed and denounced the injustice of the hostile environment and the damages that it is producing in the country. Some of them, such as the Social Scientist Against the Hostile Environment, are already part of Status Now Network and are contributing to our campaign.

The positive shift in immigration attitudes is common to all demographic groups, but the shift is much more relevant among people aged between 18 and 35 (+22%) and a percentage of them are university students. They study together with many international students and can be more sensitive to our call. We aim to involve them in our campaign.

  • General public

Although the public opinion is now more favourable toward migrants and refugees, the government campaign to criminalise them (which will probably increase getting closer to the next general election) impacts on the public and it is largely spread on the mainstream media. We need to develop a counter-narrative on who migrants and refugees are and what is the impact of a precarious residence status on their lives.

Communication tools

We plan to expand our audience and gain new support to our campaign through an increasing presence in the media and the organisation of several events and initiatives.

The lived experience of our members will be at the centre of our campaign, and we are going to profile a large number of personal stories to evidence the injustice of so many people condemned to live precarious lives in the hostile environment.

Currently SNN has a website and a newsletter that are working quite well and have increased their audience over the last year.  Our social media accounts are still underused though, with the partial exception of the Friends of Status Now Facebook page that is bringing new people volunteering in the network. We are looking for volunteers to develop our work in social media.

Most importantly, we aim to reach the larger audience of the mainstream media, developing connections with journalists and letting the general public hear our voices and know our experiences.

We are also going to organise some important public events. Presently we are working on the SNN manifesto where we present our analysis of the development of the hostile environment and articulate the reasons for our call for indefinite leave to remain to all precarious migrants. We will launch this manifesto in a public event that we are going to organise in the next months. We are also planning an event in parliament, where people with lived experience will share their stories in conversation with MPs, and we have started to work on the creation of a people’s tribunal on migrant justice.

In the meantime, we are supporting the general mobilisation against the hostile environment, taking part in protests and events, and are working for closer cooperation among our signatories and with other organisations.

We encourage our members to develop their contacts with all the target audiences and we are going to organise training to improve our communication skills.

Empowering our voices and developing skills

Empowering our voices with training on media and public speaking is one of our priorities for the development of our campaign.

Not everyone feels confident speaking in public. This can be even more difficult and highly emotional when it involves sharing personal stories and suffering experiences, but it is a way to empower ourselves and launch powerful messages.

Our training in public speaking will help people with lived experience to tell their stories and promote SNN campaign in a safe and impactful way, being this speaking in a public event, being interviewed by a journalist or having a conversation with your local MP.

Training will also be offered on how to best communicate your story and messages on mainstream media and social media.

We look to recruit people willing to take the training and invite everyone to contact us (specifying your location) at if interested. Having a list of interested people will help us to organise the training.

Getting legal status as a Community Interest Company (CIC) will probably facilitate access to funding to finance our activity and contribute to improve the internal organisation and management of the network.


The SNN strategy weekend marked the starting point of a new phase of development of our network that we now need to move forward, and we plan to organise other in-presence meetings in the future as many participants required.

Our discussion generated increased enthusiasm and commitment from all participants. They felt stimulated to involve their own organisations more in the work of the network and to personally contribute in various ways to the development of the campaign, promoting it in their networks, starting to attend the meetings of the reference group, and volunteering in SNN.

The meeting led also to some immediate actions, such as the approval of a motion in support of our call for status now for all by the executive committee of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) just a few days later. This was in fact the result of a proposal that emerged in the discussion of the strategy weekend, and we will work to ask other unions to approve similar motions.

This report aims to extend our discussion to all those who could not attend the strategy weekend and asks their contribution to move forward together in our plans.