Hackney brewery joins forces with refugee women to condemn government’s illegal migration bill

Lead brewers Alesha Ivey (left) and Alana Lim. Photograph: Olivia Barber

A Hackney brewery has teamed up with a refugee charity to highlight the impact of the government’s new illegal migration bill on women.

Five Points creates a beer to celebrate every International Women’s Day, and this year it enlisted Women for Refugee Women (WRW) to help out.

The resulting witbier, or white beer, is called At Wit’s End and was finally unkegged last week at a launch event at the brewery’s Mare Street taproom.

It was made using Citra hops, coriander seed, lemon and orange peel, with elderflower added post-fermentation.

The beer is now on sale to the public, and £10 from every keg will go to WRW to help fund its work.

Alesha Ivey, a lead brewer at Five Points, said: “We wanted refugee women to contribute and do something that makes a difference rather than just brew a beer.”

Her colleague Alana Lim added: “The brewing part was us, but everyone needed to help. The beer is made by and for women.”

WRW member Olivia Namutebi. Photograph: Brody Rossiter

The illegal migration bill, announced by the government in March, would prevent anyone who enters the UK using “unsafe and illegal routes” from claiming asylum.

It also threatens to remove the current 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women.

The brewery’s marketing manager, Rhona McKeran, explained: “We want to make people feel welcome in Hackney, London and the UK as a whole and encourage people to consider what is going on in the world.”

Sophie Radice, head of campaigns at WRW, said: “For years, we’ve been campaigning against the detention of pregnant women and women who have suffered sexual violence. We’re concerned those wins will be lost.”

The charity supports a network of more than 300 women across London, providing English lessons, drama and poetry workshops. It also runs an LGBTQ group, as well as campaign groups in which participants learn new skills, share stories and push for a fairer asylum process.

At the beer’s launch event, women from the poetry group read from their collections.

Olivia Namutebi, campaigner and WRW member, told the Citizen: “When it comes to refugees, we don’t hear so much about women. The hostile environment affects all women – women with children, women who are pregnant, women in detention.”

She said the collaboration with Five Points “means a lot and will make a difference to the services we provide”.

Radice added: “People can support refugees by contacting their MPs, getting involved in protests, and supporting refugee organisations like WRW.

“It’s important that people find out as much as they can and keep talking about the struggles facing refugees.”