The UK government's decision to close down numerous safe routes for individuals escaping conflict, persecution, or extreme hardship has created an appalling situation. This absence of safe routes, coupled with the criminalisation of those seeking refuge, has compelled a growing number of people to undertake perilous journeys across the Channel, with devastating consequences. Tragically, since November 2021, 35 people, including children, have lost their lives or are presumed to have perished. The situation may become even more precarious this year as the Government attempts to pass the Illegal Migration Bill, worsening the already dire situation.
It is for these reasons that MSF has launched a campaign to urge the public to call upon the Home Secretary to halt this senselessly cruel approach. We want our leaders to recognise that we will not idly stand by as individuals are forced to embark on life-threatening journeys to reach the UK.
On behalf of MSF, The Good Ideas Group created a compelling animation that tells the story of a woman seeking asylum in the UK, incorporating genuine soundbites from the UK home secretary. Using the animation as a catalyst, MSF has reached out to the general public through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter. By collaborating with influencers, engaged with the animation, MSF has encouraged the public to tweet the UK home secretary, demanding the implementation of safe and legal routes immediately.
Our aim was to bring the human stories behind the data to the forefront, rather than simply displaying numbers or locations on a map. To achieve this, we carefully considered the art direction to create a powerful impact on a minimal budget. Hand-drawn illustrations were used to provide a human touch to the video, and were animated as if they were being created in real-time. This approach allowed us to create highly imaginative scenes that gave the audience a unique and memorable experience of the story. Scenes included a live TV washed up on a beach, people drowning at sea, and portraits of people and children to remind viewers of who is truly affected by the crisis.
To symbolise the route to safety, we used a striking red ribbon that was contrasted against the black and white illustrations. The ribbon was integrated into each scene, providing a powerful visual representation of hope and safety. The video was narrated by an MSF employee with lived experience of life as a refugee, adding authenticity and emotional depth to the story. We also incorporated real soundbites from Suella Braverman, the UK home secretary, taken from a recent home affairs select committee hearing, to underscore the gravity of the situation.
Through organic distribution alone, the campaign managed to reach 7,952 people on Facebook, garnering a 13% engagement rate. On Instagram, the campaign achieved an impressive 80,169 views, whilst on LinkedIn, it reached 7,923 views. The campaign also had a respectable performance on TikTok, with 922 views, and 1.3k views on YouTube. However, it was Twitter where the campaign received the most attention, with 359,000 impressions and 12,791 engagements. MSF focused its outreach and engagement activities on Twitter, collaborating with influencers, like-minded individuals, and organisations.
Examples from Twitter include Dr Philippa Whitford (MP) Tweeting “There simply are #NOSafeRoutes to claim asylum in UK unless you fit one of the narrow country-specific schemes…” as well as the journalist Peter Stefanovic adding, “This is superb from @MSF_uk”.
MSF was fortunate to have received support from a diverse range of organisations and individuals across the UK refugee and migration sector, as well as a smaller number of influencers from other sectors, including the medical field.