Researchers organise legal walk in Manchester to raise migration awareness at sunset

  • MMU researchers embark on an evening journey to explore Manchester’s hidden stories of migration
  • Walkers reflect on the legal framework that had governed migration and the evolving societal attitudes toward migrants in Manchester. 

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University organised a unique event to raise awareness about the city’s rich history of migration.  

The ‘Legal Walk for Migration’ saw participants visit several historic sites across Manchester, where they provided insightful commentary on the city’s migration patterns and their legal implications. 

Kay Lalor, a reader in business law and lecturer in MMU, led the walk which commenced at 5pm in Business School Hall, Manchester Metropolitan University, where participants gathered to embark on a journey through time and explore the history of migration that has shaped the city.

The legal walk

The legal walk to ST Peter’s Fields: the Peterloo massacre

The group made their way to significant landmarks, including St Peter’s Fields, to capture the story of Peterloo massacre of August 16th 1819, the iconic Castlesfield Urban Heritage Park, Pan African townhall, Rochdale canal, the NHS, and Abraham Lincoln’s Hall. There they delved into the historical context of migration especially the interesting story of window tax law  25 March 1755, and its profound impact on Irish migrants and the development of Manchester.  

the legal walk to Little Ireland: the window tax law

Addressing the participants, Dr Kay explained the walk was a yearly festival for the faculty of social sciences and law school in Manchester metropolitan university and that this year’s version was to raise awareness for Manchester’s migration especially the refugees and asylum seekers.

She said: “The law is effective only when it is sought after out there to experience how it operates and part of what the legal walk will do is to provide opportunity for women, refugees and asylum seekers especially those who would not have time and resources to go in part and space.” 

Dr. Sajida Ismail, co-ordinator of Grass Roots Movement, and human right lawyer, and one of the lead organizers, drew a connection to Manchester’s migration and activism mentioning the fact that Manchester is the headquarters of Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

Throughout the walk participants were captivated with compelling narratives, shedding light on the legal aspects of migration and the challenges faced by migrants throughout history.

The informative remarks provided a deeper understanding of the legal frameworks that have governed migration and the evolving societal attitudes toward migrants in Manchester. 

One of the participants expressed her enthusiasm with the event and its learning outcome, saying: “I think I enjoyed the walk because I learnt a lot of new things about Manchester. I’ve lived here for years, and I knew something about the history of Manchester but the story we’ve heard brought it to life. It was invigorating and it was thought provoking.”  

The walk culminated in a thought-provoking discussion at a designated gathering point, where participants shared their reflections and engaged in an open exchange of ideas.  

Asked in an interview whether the legal walk is a revolutionary movement, Kay said: “The walk is only for research purpose and has achieved its aims.”