We are a grassroots abolitionist group. A vision of a world without borders or prisons is at the centre of everything we aim to do. These two systems – the border and the prison – are not separate. They are overlapping, mutually supportive regimes of violence and control. As abolitionists, we don’t want a migrants justice movement that only fights for the “legal” non-criminal migrant, and we don’t want a prison abolitionist movement that only fights for the imprisoned “citizen”. We want an abolitionist movement that fights for a world without violence, where every person, regardless of who they are or where they were born, can move freely and live with dignity.
Solidarity, not charity
We believe in solidarity, not charity. We reject the liberal view that often treats migrants as victims in need of saving. We stand with people who are detained to take control of their cases and resist their imprisonment and deportation. Our approach emphasises respect and mutuality. We listen to people we support, and organise to meet their needs. When we act from solidarity, we foreground the views and needs of those who are directly harmed by our immigration system. When we organise in opposition to hierarchies, we can build the power and networks needed to dismantle the racist and oppressive immigration system for good.
We work on the basis of non-hierarchy, where every member has equal power, regardless of their background or experience. With regards to our governance, we have coordinators who are responsible for casework administration and facilitating the group’s organising activities, and a board of directors who oversee SDS’ legal obligations and help preserve long-term organisational memory to inform our struggle against border violence. Our visitors and working groups operate autonomously, and we coordinate through bi-weekly organising meetings, where we make decisions based on consensus. We work to create a safe and inclusive organising space where everyone can participate and contribute in any form, rooted in respect and mutuality.
Collective care and accountability
SDS strives to practice collective care within and around the organisation. Collective care means we view everyone’s wellbeing – whether a visitor, an organiser, or the people we visit in detention – as the group’s shared responsibility. We also see collective care as a means to practice community accountability and to build collective power. We understand that living under and fighting against violent, oppressive systems like the immigration regime takes a significant amount of labour and can inflict a heavy toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. We also recognise that we are all capable of enacting harm and reproducing oppression through our own actions. By committing to collective care, we consciously acknowledge our flaws and limitations, whilst nurturing our growth. We commit to a transformative justice approach to develop accountability mechanisms when harms occur. We understand that collective care is a challenge and a process, but it is the only way we can dismantle oppression and grow caring communities in its place.