MEP is a space and an idea which started floating around a small group of people during the spring 2003. We referred ourselves to the Cowley Club in Brighton and we were all involved with migrants’ rights and the struggle against migration controls in some way. We chose to call the space/idea ‘The Migrant English Project’ to reflect our aim to help all migrants and to move away from categorizations.
When we started talking about setting up a project to support migrants, we first of all tried to figure out what was actually needed out there. We realized that there wasn’t a place in Brighton and Hove where migrants could get together, meet and get some help. The Cowley Club was closed on Mondays; we thought the social centre was a perfect place for the project.
MEP was officially started in September 2003.
It is a community organisation, not a charity, with a constitution and policies. From its early days MEP has prided itself on being an independent project; it sustains itself by small fundings.
MEP is run entirely by volunteers and the students themselves, in a very inclusive and anti-authoritarian environment, contributing to what has become one of the most successful and popular projects in Sussex. We provide free English lessons and conversational English. We try to help with legal, housing, benefit and health issues by advocacy, referral and signposting. We provide an informal space where people can meet others and feel a sense of belonging. We try to create a space where we can demonstrate our political solidarity with migrants.
MEP acknowledges the racism migrants face and the draconian and punitive asylum system, and in reaction to this we try to create a space where migrants feel welcome and supported.