Dear Isata Kanneh, Chair of the Trustee Board of ASIRT,

This is an Open Letter that the University of Birmingham branch of UCU have agreed in a recent all-members’ meeting to send to you in your capacity as the Chair of the Trustee Board of ASIRT.

We note and are deeply concerned about the recently announced decision by the Trustee Board to close ASIRT at this time.

We are in a context of ever-increasing government hostility towards migrants, who are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society. This includes the toxic normalisation of government discourse targeting “illegal migrants”, those arriving on “small boats”, and “Albanians”, as well as the “Rwanda Plan” and the ongoing fallout from Brexit. All of this has a highly damaging impact upon members of our society who are amongst the most vulnerable, including upon staff and students within the University system, where we are based.

ASIRT has been a pillar of support for migrants within Birmingham for many years and we are deeply saddened and concerned about the decision to close it down at this crucial time.

We understand that the reason given for the closure is a failure to recruit a CEO. However, it seems difficult to understand why this should be a reason for closure given ASIRT’s ongoing work. We also cannot help but notice that this comes in the middle of an industrial dispute with the employees of ASIRT. Closing a charity, if this were chosen to coincide with it’s employees taking part in trade union activities, would be an extremely questionable move.

We call for you, in your role as the Chair of the ASIRT board, to lead a reconsideration of the questionable decision to close ASIRT, or otherwise for the Board to step down to allow an alternative board to be formed that is more clearly committed to ASIRT’s long-term survival.

on behalf of the University of Birmingham branch of UCU

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