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Fighting for Social Justice 
by Yasmeen Shaeik, Marketing and Business Development Assistant at ACH 
 
At the root of ACH there exists a historical precedence to the work we are achieving today as we challenge systems, tackle inequalities and fight for the rights of refugees, migrants, BME communities and the homeless.  
 
From adequate social housing to fighting for equal rights, social activism has had a long and diverse history in England. Although our work at ACH is unique, providing long-term solutions to complex needs, we are also following in the footsteps of pioneers who have dared to challenge the status quo. At the root of ACH there exists a historical precedence to the work we are achieving today. 
 
Thomas Clarkson stands as a notable and visionary figure in British history. With his foresight, he became an early pioneer in the fight to abolish slavery and establish equal rights. However, the sentiments perpetuated in Clarkson’s infamous essay still ring as true today as they did 232 years ago, warranting a concern that many things still need changing. Many of his sentiments can still be applied to people living within our more deprived communities, as well as to the inhumane treatment of refugees. 
 
Clarkson mentioned how “people, endured with the same feelings and faculties as ourselves were made subject to the laws and limitations of possession.” Albeit, his commentary was aimed at slave traders, the statement rings true today in relation to the treatment of refugees and migrants. All for their want of a better life, refugees and asylum seekers are thrown into harsh environments. They are denied the luxuries of a home, required to stay in makeshift camps or be forced into detention centres. If safety concerns, imprisonment and trauma weren’t enough to deal with, many refugees and migrants then find themselves living in these hostile environments. There is evidence that many migrants are relatively healthy upon arrival compared with the native population, but that this good health can deteriorate over time in the receiving society, due to the overriding issues of poverty they face during the dispersal process. 
 
Furthermore, Clarkson mentioned how “part of the human species are considered as game and that parties of pleasure are made for their destruction.” In our time, it is refugees and asylum seekers who have become “game” for many. The term ‘refugee’ has become politicised, with migrants scapegoated in the political arena and blamed for the current state of their host countries. As such, the dialogue around refugees excludes any long-term viable resettlement solutions, forcing refugees into a state of limbo, as they are neither given permanent stay in their host countries or able to return home. 
 
ACH not only fights for the rights of refugees, but also those within BME communities and those who find themselves homeless. ACH fights for refugees and many within our communities to be seen as human beings, with the right to safe accommodation and employment. In our attempts to help as many as we can, we have taken ACH to Wolverhampton and Birmingham, as part of our quest to become leaders in the settlement and resettlement of displaced people. We’ve embraced and utilised social media as a source of change, spreading the message with our #rethinkingrefugee campaign, in much the same way Clarkson spread his message by travelling throughout England. 
 
History is marked by those who have lit the torch of activism before us, which has paved the way for our organisation and set the tone of our work today. We need to move away from dehumanising expectations and stereotypes of fellow human beings. It is by tackling the inherent systems of inequalities that we can begin to defeat the detrimental effects of subtle discrimination and unconscious bias. In doing so, we can begin to have open and frank discussions, doing more with limited funding and resources to allow people into better and more senior job roles. ACH hopes to create a domino effect of social change, which began with the likes of Thomas Clarkson and now falls to us. It is our duty to carry the flame of activism, careful to not diminish or extinguish it in anyway. 
 
Thomas Clarkson’s Essay: 
 
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