What does it mean to be a Scottish citizen – for migrants, EU nationals, refugees and native Scots? Who defines that? And is it time for Scotland to rethink citizenship in a bigger, bolder way?
These are just some of the questions posed by our Just Citizens project, which aims to examine the opportunities for a more inclusive definition of citizenship.
Who we are
Just Citizens is led by:
- Jen Ang, one of our founding co-directors, an experienced human rights lawyer and lecturer in law with the Open University.
- Karin Goodwin, our Senior Communications Consultant, an award-winning journalist and expert in advising third sector and community based organisations on effective communications and media engagement.
- Talat Yaqoob, our Senior Policy and Public Affairs Consultant, an experienced campaigner and consultant who has worked on creating system and policy changes for women, focusing on intersecting inequalities.
What we do
Over the next two years we will explore how current policy and practice impacts on the rights of EU citizens and other marginalised migrant groups right across our country. And we’ll look at how rethinking citizenship in legal, political, policy and personal terms could help build a more holistic vision of citizenship in Scotland.
While legal citizenship may be reserved by the UK, social citizenship – which gives us a sense of belonging – can be shaped by local, regional and national governments. That might include the right to vote, to housing, to education, social security, healthcare and wellbeing, for everyone living in Scotland.
We believe our current political and cultural context means this is more relevant than ever. The Scottish Government has taken a proactive approach to migration in recent years, supporting the inclusion of refugees and other new Scots – and it recognises the essential benefit of migration to Scotland’s economy. Yet threats to free movement are ever-increasing both from Brexit and the UK Government’s commitment to the hostile environment.
So we’re continuing our work to raise awareness of the impact of Brexit on the rights of EU migrants in Scotland. But we’re also widening our scope to look at how our current restrictions on citizenship relating to migration status are impacting on us all. We know there is substantial work already ongoing on this, and are delighted to be collaborating with the third sector, legal and academic colleagues – and crucially, migrant-led groups and individuals – to collectively inform and influence both the public and decision makers. Through this collaboration, we want to find strategies that work, and build networks where we can share our knowledge.