Against a bitter tide: How a small UK charity operationalises dissent to challenge the “hostile environment” for migrant children and families


  • Christian Kerr Northumbria University
  • Nick Watts Director, Together with Migrant Children



Dissent, social work, migrant rights, charity sector, undocumented children


INTRODUCTION: Dissent is currently under political and ideological assault in the UK and immigration has long been a target for those looking to quell dissenting practices. At the same time, dissent appears increasingly out of place in the contemporary social work context in England. Yet, as the authors argue, dissent is codified within the professional and ethical standards that social workers in England must adhere to.

APPROACH: This article introduces the work of a small UK Charity, Together with Migrant Children, and applies to it key facets of the theoretical basis for dissent through case study and practice-based reflections on challenges in immigration policy and opportunities for dissenting practice.

IMPLICATIONS: The authors set out the challenges and opportunities for dissent in practice in statutory, non-statutory and wider community development settings, illustrating how dissent can bring individual ‘success’ that is located within a cumulative structural and tactical change that points to dissent and its practice as a necessary feature of democracy.

Author Biography

Christian Kerr, Northumbria University

Lecturer in social work


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How to Cite

Kerr, C., & Watts, N. (2022). Against a bitter tide: How a small UK charity operationalises dissent to challenge the “hostile environment” for migrant children and families. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(3), 61–73.



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