Mary Dines

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Biographical Information

Mary Dines 1927-2011.

"Employed by the London Council for Social Service during the 1960s, she became a member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD). As it began to break up, she with Vishnu Sharma (of the Indian Workers’ Association) and Oxford don Michael Dummett decided in the late 1960s that there was a need for an organisation to provide welfare support and immigration advice to newly arriving communities from the ‘New Commonwealth’ who were being totally neglected by social and welfare services and discriminated against at every turn. They established the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, an affiliation of a host of groups including the Pakistani Welfare Associations, the Indian Workers Associations and the West Indian Standing Conference. JCWI, where Mary and Vishnu were to work, sent someone to Heathrow to help those refused entry, and was first based at Toynbee Hall in Tower Hamlets, later on in Pentonville Road in Kings Cross, and is still currently hard at work in Old Street. There were precisely two solicitors and one barrister in the whole country then who had any knowledge of immigration law. ...

"From 1976 to 1979 she was general secretary of War on Want where her concerns about injustice broadened from individual plights to group rights. Apart from the courageous stand she took in defending the organisation against the Right and the Charity Commissioners when staff and board members were under attack for making a donation to the Grunwick strike fund, she is remembered for the way she took War on Want in a new political direction – to address the structures that perpetuated poverty and oppression worldwide and support campaigns for global justice. It was at War on Want that Mary became involved in supporting the liberation movement of the people of Eritrea, a passion of hers for the rest of her life. In 1976, using her connections with larger charities like Oxfam, she helped set up the Eritrean Relief Association and in the 1980s helped found and house the Eritrean Community in the UK – both still flourishing today.

"Mary’s support for peoples seeking self-determination extended when, with the support of David Astor, she set up Rights and Justice after leaving War on Want. Then she took on a whole host of causes close to her heart including those of the oppressed Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Kurds. Mary helped to set up the Kurdish Workers' Association in 1986 and later an All Party Parliamentary Kurdistan Group. Asylum Aid was established in 1990 as a casework organisation to complement the work of Rights and Justice..."[1]  


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  1. IRR Mary Dines 1927-2011, organizational web page, accessed May 26, 2013.