“Welcome in My Backyard” campaign to welcome migrant workers and debunk prejudices against migrant workers

“Welcome in My Backyard” campaign to welcome migrant workers and debunk prejudices against migrant workers

In light of migrant workers rehousing efforts due to the surging number of COVID-19 infection within the migrant workers dormitories, a community movement called “Welcome in My Backyard” (WIMBY) has been launched, aiming to mobilise the ground in creating a safe space for migrant workers within neighbourhoods while challenging existing prejudices against migrant workers.
Initiated by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Anthea Ong and partnering with Beyond Social Services and My Community, WIMBY will build a bridge between Singaporeans and migrant workers by engaging the online community through a social media wave as well as the local community in Bukit Merah through a local integration wave.
WIMBY said of this campaign, “It pre-empts tensions wrought by the sudden change and seeks to counter NIMBYism [Not In My Backyard] by amplifying the message that migrant workers are Welcome In My Backyard (WIMBY).”
Casting the old habit of NIMBY, NMP Anthea Ong asserted that WIMBY campaign will help citizens to practice appreciating the essential role of migrant workers in their lives while welcoming migrant workers into their common living spaces.
“I hope this project can hold up a mirror to these biases. How do we see the similarities that we have instead of looking at the differences of the other? Because when we only see differences, we might hold fear and distrust towards our migrant workers which may then translate into alienation or even rejection. I hope this project breaks down these walls that the residents might have, and inspires them to invite their migrant neighbours into their backyards,” Ms Ong added.
In the first social media wave which began last Friday (17 April), WIMBY shared the campaign messages and initiatives through its own Facebook and Instagram accounts to encourage the larger online community to welcome migrant workers into their communities.
WIMBY invited the online community to post Welcome Notes for migrant workers on its website, or on their own social media accounts with the hashtags #WelcomeInMyBackyard and #WIMBY.
“Over the course of the campaign, we hope to garner up to 1,000 Welcome Notes and at least as many #WIMBY post.” WIMBY remarked.
On top of this, WIMBY also plan to publish a WIMBY Facebook profile frame with more social media content amplifying humanising and myth-debunking messages from both locals and migrant workers.
Noting that migrant workers who work in essential services have been moved into 21 refurbished blocks of HDB flats in Redhill Close, WIMBY hinted that there could be more rehousing efforts implemented in relevant communities.
As such, a local integration wave will be launched by WIMBY on 1 May as part of efforts to debunk racist myths and target the entrenched “hostile mindsets” towards migrant workers while raising awareness of supporting migrant workers during this unprecedented time.
To reach these goals, WIMBY is set to roll out community engagement sessions, which are virtual dialogue sessions between local residents, well-established non-profits for migrant workers’ advocates, and healthcare professionals as well as the rehoused migrant workers if the condition is allowed.
Also, WIMBY will appoint ambassadors who live in Bukit Merah and relevant communities to reach out to their families, friends, and local networks about the initiative of this campaign.
“We look towards our efforts in the relevant communities as a pilot for future local integration waves in other neighbourhoods,” WIMBY noted.
The social media lead of WIMBY campaign Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen stated that this campaign acts as a unique platform during this circuit breaker period, allowing the “organic interactions” between local communities and migrant workers, aligned with “the long overdue connection – for we are one Singapore.”
“A note of encouragement can go a long way in lifting anyone’s day. I have been hearing stories about our migrant workers being scared and fearful. If you are in a comfortable position with the ability to do something simple to lift their spirits, like writing a welcome note, why not?” said Nicholas Oh, co-lead of WIMBY campaign.
Anyone interested in getting involved or learning more about WIMBY can follow WIMBY’s Facebook and Instagram, share their content using the hashtags #WelcomeInMyBackyard and #WIMBY, spread WIMBY campaign within social networks, families and friends, while encouraging own followers to write Welcome Notes at WIMBY website and donate to non-profits supporting migrant workers.

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