One day without us: ‘There’s more than just one way to be defined’

There is a sense of unity across Britain today as cities, towns and organisations celebrate the contributions to our country made by migrants.

The One Day Without Us campaign is a national day of action which coincides with the United Nations World Day of Social Justice.

For 24 hours, migrants from inside and outside the EU, and non-migrants are invited to celebrate and show their support to all of the benefits to our society that migrants have brought.

There have been protests outside Westminster, the Tate Gallery in London is running tours exhibiting and highlighting all of the artwork created by migrants, some people are taking days of action out of work and others are creating artwork, taking selfies and sharing images showing their support.

Sheffield is holding a 24-hour poetryathon where people can submit positive poems online about their own experiences or views relating to this day of celebration.

Shahida Siddique is leading the Sheffield poetryathon, who said she wanted to get people to be creative.

She said of the poems: “Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, some are moving”.

Arrival by Debjani Chatterjee

“The cardinal winds have brought us here.
Now battered, now buoyant, we survived.
What mattered most was getting it clear:
no longer strangers, we have arrived.”

Shahida said she wanted to give a platform and an opportunity to people from migrant communities to show a different depth, diversity and a spark.

She said: “The recent rhetoric has been xenophobic and this poetryathon is the antidote to all of that – there’s not just one way to be defined.”

Exile by Sophia De Mello Breyner
translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith

When the country we have isn’t ours
Lost because of silence and renunciation
Even the voice of the sea becomes exile
And the light all aound us is like bars

Shahida said she hopes that people will come back to the poetry, that will remain online, and she said they decided on the poetryathon because poetry has the ability to connect with people emotionally.

You can submit your own poems on the Sheffield Poetryathon website, here.

The University of Sheffield has also been celebrating their migrant students and staff members.

The university’s archaeology department, where approximately a third of the staff and students are from outside the UK, have taken to Twitter to express their gratitude and celebrate the contributions that migrant faculty members and students bring to the archaeology department.

Jane Rempel, Classical Archaeology Lecturer who is originally from Canada but lives in Sheffield, said “Migration is part of both my work and my life.

“Archaeology, the study of humanity, is inherently international.

“People in the past migrated in ways that were not limited by our current borders and studying those movements of people involves working with material and colleagues that come from many different parts of the world.

“The Department of Archaeology is supporting the #1DayWithoutUs action today because we are a community for whom migration ­is a vital issue in both the past and the present and we want to recognise the important contributions that migrants make to our world.”