Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


  • I’m Making a List

    demonstration outside Dungavel detention centre, people holding up placards saying I was a Stranger, a banner on the ground saying Refugees welcome

    This is the official photo on the Justice and Peace Scotland Facebook page. Here we are outside Dungavel, again, at a solidarity demonstration organised by the Ayrshire branch of Hope Not Hate. We have been there continuously for years and it gets no better. The first time we went, and it’s too depressing to think of how long ago that was, I wrote this poem:

    The Army Camped at Dungavel

    For the Eurydice Socialist Women’s Choir, Glasgow

    The Eurydice choir
    sings as if at Jericho,
    as if the new loud hailer
    could break Dungavel’s walls.
    A butterfly, sun-fuelled,
    rides the autumn wind like ocean,
    makes land-fall, leans its burning
    trivial weight against the steel.
    To move a mountain, faith
    needs such moments of temerity.
    We do not know our strength,
    the butterfly and the choir.

    There have been many moments of temerity since then, but there we still are. And I am tired. I am tired of the manufactured paranoia about immigrants, of the casual cruelties of the asylum system, of the assumption that it’s what the British people want. We don’t. When there was a dawn raid in Kenmure Street to deport people (who were still in the middle of their appeals process, which they won), people turned out in their thousands to stop it. When Nigel Farage attacked the RNLI for bringing in people from small boats in the Channel, a fundraiser to build more lifeboats attracted enormous support, and there is now a new lifeboat, with Farage’s name on it. We don’t want concentration camps for refugees. We don’t want them deported to Rwanda. We don’t want to be a zenophobic, insular, smug, hateful country, we want to be welcoming, inclusive and unworried by difference.

    So I’m making a list. I’m not going to find out who’s naughty, they are not worth my time or yours. I’m paying attention to who’s nice – the people and groups and organisations who are helping. If you have time or money or headspace to spare, please put it here

    Extra organisations added from the comments via Helen Boden!

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