www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
People gathering in town to support those in need

People gathering in town to support those in need

Appeal to Amber to help refugee children

Jamie Osborn of the Hastings Supports Refugees (HSR) Facebook group wrote to HOT’s Zelly Restorick about their campaign “to get Amber Rudd to act immediately on the several hundred children in Calais who have the right to be in the UK.”

“We feel very strongly, as Amber Rudd’s constituents, that she should be doing more for these children,” said Jamie. A petition has been set up and HSR urges everyone to sign up, spread the word and use social media to put pressure on Ms Rudd to give this issue her urgent compassionate attention.”

Food and goods collected on Saturday

Food and goods collected on Saturday

Awareness raising and Food Donation Day

HSR organised an event on Saturday to raise awareness of the situation and to collect food and other items for those in need. “By the end, we’d made several trips with goods for the food bank,” writes Jamie, “and filled two cars and a van with donations for Calais. People were singing, there were some nice ‘Thank you’ speeches – a really good community atmosphere. Not a sign of the ‘South Coast Resistance’ group, though there were a couple of police officers with us all the time.”

Jamie also attended the Global Justice Network meeting – “Is this a Migrant Crisis?” – in Bexhill the same morning. “The point was raised there that we are working to help refugees while there is significant poverty in this country,” he writes. “Somebody else pointed out that we have to ask why there is such poverty in this country – often it is to do with the same entrenched inequalities and the same lack of political will that are causing or at least exacerbating the refugee crisis. Jane Grimshaw (one of the founders and coordinators of Hastings Supports Refugees) gave a great speech in response, to cheers and applause, in which she said that the ‘Food Donation Day’ was a solidarity event for all; not a demonstration so much as a celebration of what Hastings could do for everyone. It certainly felt like that this afternoon.”

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Dubs Amendment and the children

“The bringing of the first Dubs children to safety is very welcome news,” writes Jamie Osborn. “As Alf Dubs himself said, ‘a great start’. But volunteers on the ground, like academic and filmmaker, Sue Clayton, say that there are hundreds more children who may have the right to asylum in the UK but who the Home Office hasn’t identified. The task of identifying those children has fallen to volunteers, but it should be the Home Office’s responsibility. It looks like the #DubsNow battle has been won insofar as the Home Office is at last acting to bring children to safety. But now we need to follow up on this good start by pressing Amber Rudd to do all she can to make sure no children are left behind in the rush to clear the Jungle, when they could have the right to a flourishing life here.”

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Local people supporting refugees and those in need

Open letter to Home Office Minister and our MP, Amber Rudd

This letter can be found on the HSR Facebook Page. It has been signed by – to name a few – Mark Benton, actor, Liane Carroll, musician, Steve Furst, actor and comedian, David Quantick, broadcaster and writer, as well as Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, and seven other councillors. And local people who have volunteered with refugees in the camps and local businesses.

11th October 2016
Dear Amber Rudd,
As your constituents we write to express our deep concern for at least 387 unaccompanied children in the Calais ‘Jungle’ who have been granted legal right to be in the UK. Your announcement that 100 children will be relocated to the UK within weeks is welcome. But hundreds more children have the right to relocation.

Reports say demolition of the Jungle will begin this Saturday, 15th October. Unless action is taken immediately, the camp’s imminent demolition will put all the children at utmost risk. This is a life and death situation. Delaying their safe passage to the UK is a form of criminal negligence by our Government.

We have been assured of this in consultation with a highly prominent QC. This is a question of law. For you as our MP to be accused of criminal negligence is a matter of highest concern for your constituents.

On September 1st, the full details of almost 400 children with legal claims to entry to the UK were handed to the Home Office. These documents provided everything needed to proceed. But fewer than 100 children have been transferred, all with family here. MPs from your own party are urging you to allow children from this category to enter the UK “safely and quickly”. We would extend their plea to the second, ‘Dubs’, category of children whom your Government has also given legal right to safe passage. Of this category, not one has so far been admitted.

Everything is in place to welcome the children at local authority and civil society level. It is only the Home Office’s continued dilatory action that is prolonging their time in the ‘Jungle’. East Sussex County Council’s Early Help and Social Care Department have informed us that they are “very aware that there is more to be done to provide safe care for this group of children but please be reassured that East Sussex has already stepped forward to offer help.” Hastings Council, meanwhile, has indicated its readiness to help relocate refugees, though they do not have specific responsibility for children.

Hastings and Rye have a strong tradition of stepping up to support those in need. Within the last week, your constituents have donated well over a tonne of aid, and over the last year have made particular efforts to help unaccompanied minors in Calais. Regina Volkmer, a local volunteer, offers personal testimony: “When I worked in the Calais warehouse the most popular donations coming in were children’s clothes and toys. The overwhelming pile is the epitome of the British people’s wish to help these children and it stands in harsh contrast to the lack of action the government has shown so far.” We therefore see the plight of the children in Calais as a matter of local concern.

We, the undersigned community organisations and individuals, are proof that Hastings has a strong community in which children of all backgrounds can flourish. Hastings and Rye are not only ready to welcome our share of child refugees, but are extremely concerned to prevent their further suffering or exposure to criminal abuse. We, as your constituents call on you to do everything in your power to grant safe passage to all of the children with the right to be here immediately, and allow them the opportunity to be part of our safe, flourishing community.

HSR Facebook Page

For updates since Saturday, please connect with the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook Page here.

Other links

These links were received from Sue Clayton, film-maker and Goldsmiths professor, who has been filming in Calais and is deeply involved with the situation. Here is her report on the situation and an interview with her on Sky News.

A report on Calais Mission and Peers and MPs demand action on Calais Migrant Camp.

You can donate here: Calais Gebnet Urgent Appeal and Calais Children Facebook.

Posted 13:03 Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 In: Campaigns


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