Our campaigns

End the Home Office’s “Go Home” Hate Campaign

Our campaign to scrap the Home Office’s “Go Home” message to refugees, ran in 2013, and contributed to ending the racist go home vans and posters by the UK government to force refugees to return to the persecution that they fled.

The "Go Home" vans were part of a controversial 2013 advertising campaign by the British Home Office in which advertising vans with slogans recommending that illegal immigrants should "go home or face arrest" were sent to tour areas with high immigrant populations. It was eventually scrapped in Scotland after a concerted campaign by Positive Action in Housing. 

The posters displayed in the Home Office reporting centre in Brand Street in Glasgow asked “Is life here hard? Going home is simple” and the stickers on the seats with the text “Ask about going home".

The material displayed was shocking. Giant posters depict a destitute refugee sleeping rough and the headline: 

"Is life here hard? Going home is simple".

There was a picture of an airplane and the line:

"The plane can take you home. We can book the tickets."

Even the chair you sat down upon bore advice:

"Ask about going home", reinforcing the hostile message to asylum seekers who report there every day or once a week.

The Home Office claimed,

"These posters are designed to ensure people know that we can provide sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home with dignity." 

"Go Home" is a well-known racist taunt that has been used for decades in this country by fascists and racists against those of us from immigrant communities. That a government agency should decide to take up the same racist and xenophobic refrain while "processing" would-be refugees to this country, is shameful and deeply offensive. 

The "Go Home" poster campaign exposes the Border Agency's attitude and gives us a small idea of what refugees in this country go through when they seek asylum.

In a letter to The Scotsman, senior Kirk minister, the Rev Dr Iain Whyte, a supporter of our charity, wrote: 

“To bully vulnerable people by this poster campaign is an appalling violation of human rights. To do so in an area which is closed to the public is an insidious, covert act.”

Dr Whyte called on the Scottish Government to make “strong representations” to the Home Office to have the posters removed.

Claiming refuge is a human right. The reality is that refugees coming into the UK are caught up in the incompetent bureaucratic mess that is the British asylum system - a system that in November 2012 failed to deal with its asylum backlog, and left more than 100,000 items of post relating to asylum cases unopened. The asylum seekers concerned were left in limbo for an average of 7 years.

The government's "Go Home" campaign is a reminder of the slogans used by the National Front in the 1970s. It is an not so much dog-whistle politics as an entire brass band ... It is akin to scrawling 'Paki go home'. it's a policy designed to stoke fear and resentment."

The posters, which read: "Is life here hard? Going home is simple", before adding "Ask about going home," will also be removed from display in the UK Border Agency (UKBA) offices London.

Mrs May admitted that the Go Home Vans had been "too blunt an instrument".

The Coalition also admitted that just 11 immigrants volunteered to leave the UK after seeing the "go home" vans.

An official report revealed that the phone number used in the near £10,000 campaign, dubbed Operation Vaken, received a total of 1561 text messages, 1,034 hoaxes.

"It was a disgraceful personal error of judgment by Theresa May - she signed off the vans, the slogans and the funding and defended them for months before her recent U-turn."

Mr Harper said the 60 people who left - 11 who saw the vans and 49 who left after hearing about the van campaign - will save the taxpayer £830,000, based on the average £15,000 cost of an enforced removal.

This motion was put forward in October 2013:

Early Day Motion 488: Home Office Returns Pilot Scheme
That this House deplores the recent Home Office poster campaign running in UK Border Agency offices in Glasgow and London advising people seeking advice to 'go home'; believes that this poster campaign is an insensitive and ineffective way of dealing with illegal immigration and is unlikely to encourage voluntary returns; notes that this is not the only instance of this type of campaign following the heavily criticised vans carrying similar messages; further notes that charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed their concerns about the campaign; further believes that this scheme is likely to undermine its stated aims whilst creating an environment of fear; and urges the Government to halt immediately this pilot scheme and to work with local authorities, community groups and NGOs to encourage voluntary returns in a more effective, liberal, sympathetic and humane manner.

 Sponsors: Huppert, Julian / Corbyn, Jeremy / Hancock, Mike / McDonnell, John / Shannon, Jim   -   House of Commons: 09.09.2013

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