As MP’s were debating whether to trigger Article 50 in the House of Parliament, residents of Ipswich were trying to keep the idea of Europe alive at an informative gathering with local community leaders, politicians and EU citizens.
On the 1st February, one hundred people packed out Burlington Baptist Church in Ipswich to find out ‘what next for EU nationals’.
The meeting wasn’t about whether Britain should be in or out of the EU, rather, focus was on the position of EU citizens living in the UK – what is happening now, and what might happen in the future?
The event was organised by New Europeans, a campaigns organization which provides a voice in the unfolding debate on Europe and supported by Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) and the3million.
The panel included the Deputy Mayor Glen Chisholm and leader of the council Bryony Rudkin as well as TUC Southern and Eastern Regional Secretary Megan Dobney, the co-founder of the3million Anne-Laure Donskoy and director of ISCRE Audrey Ludwig. The meeting was chaired by Michal Siewniak, New European’s Regional Coordinator.
This public meeting for EU citizens was part of the Living Rights project run by the Law Centres Network, encouraging EU citizens in the UK to participate in local and civic life and to inform them of their rights. The event also offered practical support; those in the audience who felt they needed to seek legal advice on residence cards or citizenship applications could book a free appointment with ISCRE, which has set up a stall at the back of the hall.
Michal Siewniak said after the event
This very well attended event was a fantastic opportunity to listen to many genuine concerns. Our fruitful gathering provided a very important platform to have a sensible, rational conversation about the future of Europe and its citizens. We are delighted that we were able to launch the New Europeans ‘branch’ in Ipswich. We must be part of the process. We must do everything we can to cherish and champion diversity and challenge prejudice. The conversation and debate continues!