Tuesday, 15 December 2009

UKBA Christmas Card – part 2

I recently blogged about the appalling UK Border Agency Christmas e-card which has generated an extraordinary amount of web traffic. One of the questions I raised concerned how the card was produced and so I thought I’d do a bit of investigating. I haven’t yet tracked whether the card was designed internally or by an outside agency, however, I did discover the company that has produced a series of posters and leaflets for the UK Border Agency.

The agency is Studio Republic who have posted about the commission on their website. Ironically they have titled their announcement Doors Open with the UK Border Agency; witty little pun but not so funny for the many who find the doors of our borders firmly closed. In their announcement the agency says the following:

We designed and produced as series of posters and leaflets for the service that will be displayed nationwide – the only downside we can see to this is that you need to be a very bad boy or girl to get to see enjoy them! Mind you it’s not everyday that you get a captive audience to look at your work.

In all seriousness thank you to all concerned it was a pleasure working with yUKBA logoou.

Well I’m glad they found it so amusing and no doubt made a tidy profit while having such fun.

Now consider the assumption made in the statement, you ‘need to be a very bad boy or girl’ to see the posters. The 35 or so children in Yarl’s Wood are not bad, they aren’t criminals and nor are their families; they are children who are being damaged by our government’s policy of locking up children caught in the asylum and immigration system. In June this year there were some 470 children locked up in the UK immigration detention centres.

Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church leaders are encouraging people to send Christmas cards to Phil Woolas MP, the Minister responsible for the UK Border Agency, calling for an end to the detention of children in the asylum system. You can find more information about the campaign here.

This is what Dr Rosalyn Proops, Officer for Child Protection at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said;

We are very concerned about the health and welfare of children in immigration detention. These children are among the most vulnerable in our communities and detention causes unnecessary harm to their physical and mental health. The current situation is unacceptable and we urge the Government to develop alternatives to detention without delay.

No doubt the staff at studiorepublic and the UK Border Agency apparatchiks will have a great time at their Christmas dinners this year; I doubt the children who will have to look at their posters and leaflets while locked up will be enjoying their Christmas.

H/T Annamdrew at the Methodist Church for the information about The most important card you’ll send this Christmas.

UPDATE: Thanks to Martin Beckford for finding out that the UK Border Agency claims it designed the e-card itself and sent it to 'stakeholders'. They have declined to comment on the language used in the card.

Ekklesia have now posted an alternative UK Border Agency e-card.

David Keen has also posted The Arrest on the Flight to Egypt.


Anonymous said...

I notice that one of Studio Republic's clients appear to be the Everychild charity.

Might it be worth writing to them to inform them of Studio Republic's involvment in such cynical marketing with an organisation that locks up children?

Also, maybe people who feel inclined wish to comment on their blog where they wish everyone "a great Christmas, whatever it means to you" - http://www.studiorepublic.com/blog/index.php/studio-republic-news/have-a-great-christmas-whatever-it-means-to-you/

kimberly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Todhunter said...

Hi there,

My name's Chris Todhunter and I own Studio Republic. 8 years on, we are a very different agency. We don't work with anyone that doesn't tick the ethical boxes any more and are truly an ethical agency - any of our charity / NGO clients will agree. As sole owner I have the autonomy to make this business all I want it to be, and helping organisations and small businesses to do good is what we're all about.

The original blog post was up for a few days and taken down once I realised quite how inflammatory it was (I didn't write it and hadn't seen it prior to going live). Writing about these issues in a flippant way was disrespectful and unkind and was genuinely a one off. At the time we deserved all the flak we received (there was a lot of it).

We've changed a lot since those days and and I'd love to have you in to the studio to see what we're about if you're ever in Winchester.