What progress have you made with your local council

Around the country Refugees Welcome Groups are organising and getting councils to make commitments to take child refugees. This is a space to post your stories and progress made and connect with others in your area to increase your impact. 

We will collate this information on the Safe Passage website so we can map what commitments have been made to take in refugee children by councils across the country.


Showing 25 reactions

  • commented 2017-03-09 18:43:42 +0000
    Hi, Reigate & Banstead have 3 local Councillor’s . 2 Conservative and 1 Independent. I wrote to them 2 weeks ago and have only had a nice reply from my Independent who agreed we should do something and will take this up with the Leader of the Council who has expressed concern in the past. Disappointed, though not surprised, by the lack of response from the other two (so far). My MP, Crispin Blunt sent a prompt and lengthy reply but very much in line with Amber Rudd’s stance. I realise the debate has now happened with a sad outcome but no reason not to continue the local pressure so thought I’d post an update anyway.
  • commented 2017-02-28 18:57:31 +0000
    Following my earlier posting, I have had the following message from the London Borough of Merton “Merton has and continues to take an active role in the Pan London arrangements for distributing unaccompanied child refugees who continue to arrive in the capital each month irrespective of the Dubs resettlement scheme. We are committed to providing support to UASC and will continue to do so. We have been active alongside our London Council colleagues in continuing to lobby for councils to be properly financially supported to enable us to deliver our duties to these children, and to them as they turn 18 and become care leavers. We need government support not just financially but also to ensure that local authorities outside the capital share the responsibility so that together we can support as many children as possible. In the meantime it is business as usual for our workers receiving and supporting our growing number of asylum seeking children and care leavers – a commitment we will continue to fulfil.”
  • commented 2017-02-28 18:57:31 +0000
    Following my earlier posting, I have had the following message from the London Borough of Merton “Merton has and continues to take an active role in the Pan London arrangements for distributing unaccompanied child refugees who continue to arrive in the capital each month irrespective of the Dubs resettlement scheme. We are committed to providing support to UASC and will continue to do so. We have been active alongside our London Council colleagues in continuing to lobby for councils to be properly financially supported to enable us to deliver our duties to these children, and to them as they turn 18 and become care leavers. We need government support not just financially but also to ensure that local authorities outside the capital share the responsibility so that together we can support as many children as possible. In the meantime it is business as usual for our workers receiving and supporting our growing number of asylum seeking children and care leavers – a commitment we will continue to fulfil.”
  • commented 2017-02-28 17:45:11 +0000
    RE: first post. I meant to write “after i recontacted local councillor” not MP! The councillor that responded relates to Stockton overall, not just the local district.
  • commented 2017-02-28 17:38:09 +0000
    Didn’t get immediate response but a week later after i recontacted local MP got this response from councillor Ann McCoy (who didn’t explain who she was!) :


    “Sorry I didn’t reply directly to you as I thought Paul was going to do that.

    I attended a regional meeting to discuss the issue of unaccompanied children, we asked the Home office a number of questions that we thought we needed the answers to, I have to say that we did not really get satisfactory answers to all of them.

    Stockton had already taken more than the quota of children and at the moment we are at 95% of the number expected of us. I can assure you we will keep this under review.”
  • commented 2017-02-27 11:50:56 +0000
    I emailed you letter to a couple of local councillors at the London Borough of Merton, whom I happened to have met on holiday! They have replied “Merton is very pro refugees, shame the government doesn’t feel the same way. Will pass to key people for their input.”
  • commented 2017-02-23 20:35:51 +0000
    I had an immediate response from my Lib Dem councillor, with a very position message of support, and an update on what the council are doing to try to facilitate young refugees coming to Bristol.

    No response from either of the two Conservative councillors my letter went to as well though…
  • commented 2017-02-20 23:52:00 +0000
    Firstly, this is the email I sent to the three district councillors:

    Dear Frank Pearson, Linda Gemmell and Victoria Weston,

    I have been following the issue of refugees – and especially child refugees – since the current crisis began. I have found the overall response by the government lacklustre if not actually shabby. However, I was heartened last year by an (apparent) decision by the UK government to support 3,000 of the child refugees through a safe route to sanctuary in the UK – only to find this then whittled down to 350. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/dubs-amendment-refugee-scheme-closes- 350_uk_589b3f45e4b0a1dcbd043448 and https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/26/fresh-proposal-to-help-child- refugees-stranded-in-europe-tabled . And now we hear the government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year. This is news of grave concern and so I am writing to ask for your leadership in order that humanitarian priniciples prevail.

    In 2016, the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which, as mentioned, established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK for unaccompanied children. This didn’t call f or Britain to help all unaccompanied children in Europe, but for us to do our bit – an important point. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme – another important point. And so, I ask you to demonstrate leadership on this issue and join other councils across the country in pledging your support for keeping the scheme open.

    Lord Dubs is himself only alive because of the efforts of our grandparents and the Kindertransport programme, which saved 10,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution. His campaign united both parliament and the country, calling us to live up to the high bar set by previous generations. To date, around 200 children have been transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment. Just the other day the government announced that only 150 more will arrive from the freezing camps of Greece, before the programme is closed along with the financial year.

    It seems to me that 350 out of a potential 3,000 (itself only a fraction of the estimated hundred of thousands of child refugees needing help (ref. Unicef and Save the Children) is not good enough. In 2016 of the 30,000 child refugees who arrived in Europe, only 8 were acccepted by the UK. Therefore, I am asking you to commit to keeping the scheme alive beyond this financial year, and to offer to work to identify further spaces for eligible children. We know the consultation process nine months ago was rushed, and of course your capacity is dependent on the financial resources central government is prepared to make available for these children.

    Even so, more can and must be done. Many of these children are now experiencing terrible conditions when what they need is love and care. The support of councils is key to the government’s ability to make this happen. We know councils are responding compassionately even if the government is not so your leadership in ensuring the scheme continues is imperative. https://amp.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2017/feb/13/home-office-lyi ng-capacity-care-child-refugees . Now is not the time for Britain to be pulling up the drawbridge, but rather to be opening our arms to welcome refugee children as our grandparents did years ago.

    Please stand with us on the right side of history. Thank you so much.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mik Norman (You can see I adapted the template and added some references/contextual links).


    I received three emails – two from one of the councillors and one from another. They are not encouraging. They are these:


    Cllr Vicki Weston first said:

    Dear Mik

    Thank you for your email, I will pass your concerns and take this up with our MP George Hollingbury and also MP Steve Brine for Winchester.

    Kind regards

    Vicki


    A couple of days later she replied:


    Dear Mik

    Thank you for your email.

    I attach a link to the answer to a question from Yvette Cooper to the Secretary of Stare for the Home Department Amber Rudd on the 9th Feb. This specifically says that the Dubs amendment that is in place is not closed.


    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-02-09/debates/441DB6F3-2F20-4A12-A13C-9CB86838707E/UnaccompaniedChildRefugees


    As you will see, the Minister said:


    ‘…The United Kingdom has contributed significantly to the hosting, supporting and protection of the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis. In the year ending September 2016, we granted asylum or another form of leave to more than 8,000 children. About 50% of the 4,400 individuals who have been resettled through the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme so far are children. Within Europe, in 2016, we transferred more than 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to the UK, including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s support for the Calais camp clearance. As Home Secretary, I am proud that the UK played such a key role in helping the French to close the camp safely and compassionately.


    Yesterday the Government announced that, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, we would transfer the specified number of 350 children who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision. That number includes more than 200 children who have already been transferred from France under section 67. I must make it absolutely clear that the scheme is not closed. As required by the legislation, we consulted local authorities on their capacity to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children before arriving at the number. We are grateful for the way in which local authorities have stepped up to provide places for those arriving, and we will continue to work closely to address capacity needs.


    The Government have always been clear that we do not want to incentivise perilous journeys to Europe, particularly by the most vulnerable children. That is why children must have arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016 to be eligible under section 67 of the Immigration Act. The section 67 obligation was accepted on the basis that the measure would not act as a pull factor for children to travel to Europe and that it would be based on local authority capacity. The Government have a clear strategy and we believe this is the right approach.


    Here in the UK, we have launched the national transfer scheme and we have also significantly increased funding for local authorities caring for unaccompanied asylum- seeking children by between 20% and 28%. The Government have taken significant steps to improve an already comprehensive approach and we are providing protection to thousands of children in this year. I am proud of this Government’s active approach to helping and sheltering the most vulnerable, and that is a position that will continue…’


    And also (my underline)*


    ‘…I have listened carefully to the right hon. Lady’s questions and I will try to address them all.


    I repeat that the Dubs amendment that is in place is not closed*. We have done what we were obliged to do, and we have correctly put a number on it. The right hon. Lady implies that this is a business of accepting the children and that it is all about numbers; I respectfully say to her that these are children who need looking after over a period. When we accept them here, it is not job done; it is about making sure that we work with local authorities and that we have the right safeguarding in place. That is why we engage with local authorities—why we make sure they have sufficient funds, which we have increased, to look after those young people.

    I completely reject the right hon. Lady’s attack. The UK has a strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after the most vulnerable. That will continue. We have a different approach to where the most vulnerable are. We believe that they are in the region, and that is why we have made a pledge to accept 3,000 children from the region. We are committed to delivering on that. They are the most vulnerable.

    I am clear, through working with my French counterparts, that they do not want us to continue to accept children under the Dubs amendment indefinitely. They specify that that acts as a draw, and I agree with them—[Interruption.] It acts as a pull. It encourages the people traffickers. I know that the right hon. Lady does not want that, and I ask her to think very carefully about the approach that she prefers…’


    *Cllr V Weston had underlined the sentence beginning: “I repeat…etc.” – the underlining is lost when I cut and paste into this box.


    Meanwhile, Cllr Frank Pearson replied:


    Dear Mik,

    I am afraid you are ‘firing your arrow’ at the wrong target. This is an issue for Westminster.

    Immigration, as you are aware, was/is a major issue for the Brexit vote in June. The figure suggested major concerns over too many, in too short a time.

    Children (how do you define their age?) Are another situation; one that catches the emotions. I am not prepared to get into a debate as to whether, or not U.K. Should we accept xxxx numbers without asking why they have reached the Channel without asking for succor from countries they have migrated through? In these circumstances we must argue – why should we accept unlimited numbers? It is, after all a EU question and not just one for the U.K.

    Meanwhile it is U.K. policy that these people should stay close to their country of origin and substantial sums are spent by Government Aid to provide food, shelter and care in those locations.

    Sincerely, Frank


    Cllr Frank Pearson

    WCC Cllr – Central Meon Valley Ward


    Note: I have not amended this reply in any way – it is cut and pasted exactly as it was sent.


    I have emailed my MP twice on this issue in recent weeks; each through other campaigning organisations and amending the text. I have not yet had a response; he does usually reply but occasionally not.


    Mik Norman
  • commented 2017-02-20 20:26:00 +0000
    This is the response I had from the leader of the London Borough of Sutton:

    Thank you for emailing me about this very important issue. I completely agree with you!

    Sutton Council has been pleased to take in unaccompanied child refugees and ensure they have a safe home and all the support they need. These children are now in our care and we intend to provide them with every opportunity to put the horrors of the past behind them so that they can have every opportunity in life.

    I think it is an absolute scandal that the Government has decided to close this scheme. It is shameful and an abdication of our responsibilities as members of the human race.

    I have joined a cross party group of London borough leaders who will be lobbying the Government to overturn this decision. We cannot continue this scheme without Government support – both financial but also diplomatic and administrative. Councils do not have the powers to negotiate with other countries so we are reliant on the Home Office to ensure that procedures are in place to be able to offer safe refuge for these vulnerable children.

    I’ll let you know how we get on

    Best wishes

    Ruth

    Cllr Ruth Dombey

    Leader of Sutton Council
  • commented 2017-02-19 20:36:47 +0000
    I received this response from my local councillor “Thank you for your e-mail. Decisions about the Dubs scheme were taken centrally so you should really contact Mike Freer, your MP. Apart from the children who have come here under the Dubs scheme the government has also accepted significant numbers of refugees from Syria. Barnet has accepted our obligations John”.
  • commented 2017-02-19 16:18:33 +0000
    They have expressed concern about a lack of foster homes/carers for vulnerable young refugees:


    *

    Thank you for contacting me about your concern over the Government decision to close the Dubs scheme.

    I understand your concern about the thousands of vulnerable children still needing a home.

    We have a massive issue in Northamptonshire as we already have the 4th highest number in the UK of unaccompanied asylum seeking children from around the world arriving on lorries in our County. These children are highly traumatised by their experiences and if they are under 18 we are responsible for their ongoing care in a foster home and we also have to find them a school place.

    Northamptonshire will be like many other parts of the country where we do not have sufficient foster carers to meet the existing demand and we desperately need more individuals to come forward to register as a foster carer.

    If as a nation we had 1000s of families waiting and willing to become a foster carer then the country could take in many more children.

    *



    You might also be interested in the upcoming protest in support of Dubs, scheduled for Saturday, February 25 at 2 – 5 PM, organised by Help4Refugee Children.


    In Solidarity,

    Nina
  • commented 2017-02-19 14:00:20 +0000
    Tim East, councillor, replied: passionately in agreement and suggested I wrote to local MP Clive Lewis, which I had already done: awaiting reply.
  • commented 2017-02-19 10:24:47 +0000
    Positive response from Steve Criswell county councillor who replied – Thanks Malcolm

    I share your concern and am already following up on this with our MP Shailesh Vara.

    Kind regards,

    Steve
  • commented 2017-02-18 16:08:38 +0000
    I had already liaised with Bristol City Council on the issue this January. (This was for an item I prepared for the regional news on lone child refugees for Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th Jan).

    Bristol CC were already committed to taking around 30 children initially but had not set a cap on the upper limit.

    Bristol City Council has been inundated with offers of help from local residents to support lone child refugees.


    At their first two public meetings on the subject both were fully booked in advance with 300/400 people at each. One in Nov 2016 and then Feb 2017.


    With more British children coming into care currently this emotive subject is bringing more potential foster carers into the system.


    I’ve ensured my MP Thangam Debbonaire has the information. She is already a supporter of the issue and has spoken in the House on the subject after the announcement to stop taking children under the Dubs amendment.
  • commented 2017-02-18 14:30:31 +0000
    I have written to my MP Jo Churchill – no response as yet, and I suspect I’ll get the party line as & when she does reply – but when I wrote to Colin Noble, (conservative) leader of Suffolk CC I was pleasantly surprised to get a detailed response almost immediately. He outlined the work done so far re unaccompanied child refugees in Suffolk, how that work has been co-ordinated across LAs in East Anglia and highlighted work underway to increase local capacity by growing the pool of foster carers. His view is that the mismatch between supply and demand is currently a real logistical constraint on expanding numbers. He also confirmed that with other council leaders he is actively working through the LGA to lobby the Home Secretary regarding a re-think on shutting down the Dubs scheme. So overall I was more heartened than I’d anticipated to hear that work continues on the ground, and that there appear to be influential local govt voices even in the shires urging a Home Office re-think.
  • commented 2017-02-17 16:53:40 +0000
    I have written to both my MP and Councillor. So far no action but they are both Conservatives. My MP voted for the rescinding of Dubs so I wrote this (as standard letters are not replied to)

    Attn: Peter Bone MP

    Wellingborough


    Dear Peter Bone,

    I have taken this step in writing to you because I am personally shocked at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year. According to figures from the Refugee Council, to date, only around 200 children have been transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment and only 150 more will arrive from the freezing camps of Greece, before the programme is closed along with the financial year. This follows the closure of facilities such as Cedars to house families whilst their applications are being processed.


    I have read the standard letter (issued in response to letters like mine and which I hope you do not send me!) about how many refugees have been allowed to resettle and how much money the UK has spent. The problem with this is that these are derisory numbers in comparison to other countries in Europe and to the continued need of so many desperate people and does not even meet the promises made by David Cameron when he was PM. The letter also suggested that the closure of the scheme deters those from making the perilous journey to the UK, when research has consistently proved that refugees do not leave their homes desperate, desolate and alone with any real idea of where they are going but end up settling most frequently where they can speak the language or have family connections. This therefore is not a concerted migratory effort to come to the UK and so, by offering these places to these poor children, we are not incentivising them to leave! I believe they deserve better from the UK than to have this chance rescinded, when so few have so far been accepted.


    I do not buy into the horrible headlines and sentiment stoked by such outlets as the Daily Mail and am totally against the direction that the Conservative Government is taking this country; which is turning us into an inward looking, niggardly, narrow-minded enclave. We need to reset the balance and set an example, as we have done in history and in our actions during in WW2, so those of us who believe in decent human values of compassion, acceptance and humanity are able to feel proud of this country again, instead of ashamed.


    I am of course aware of your voting record on this issue and am upset that as my representative you have voted as you did. However, I would ask that you would reconsider your position and, at this critical time, commit to keeping the scheme open beyond this financial year by re-evaluating what provision we could as a constituency make to identify further spaces for eligible children.


    Yours sincerely,


    Karin Brawn


    Will let you know if I have any response!
  • commented 2017-02-17 15:36:39 +0000
    Warren Morgan head of Brighton and Hove Council has agreed to back this.
  • commented 2017-02-17 15:31:49 +0000
    My local councillor has approached the Cabinet member with responsibility for refugees. The Cabinet member has instigated discussion with officers and has indicated a willingness to take the issue up at a regional level. N.B. I live in Kirklees.
  • commented 2017-02-16 19:06:00 +0000
    Dear Sir/madam

    We are deeply concerned at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year, and are writing to ask for your leadership.


    Last year the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK for unaccompanied children.


    The amendment didn’t call for Britain to help all unaccompanied children in Europe, but for us to do our bit. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme.


    Now, once again, we ask you to show leadership on this issue and join other councils across the country in pledging your support for keeping the scheme open.


    Lord Dubs is himself only alive because of the efforts of our grandparents and the Kindertransport programme, which saved 10,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution. His campaign united both parliament and the country, calling us to live up to the high bar set by previous generations.


    To date, around 200 children have been transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment. Yesterday, the government announced that only 150 more will arrive from the freezing camps of Greece, before the programme is closed along with the financial year.


    At this critical time, we ask you to commit to keeping the scheme alive beyond this financial year, and to offer to work to identify further spaces for eligible children. We know the consultation process nine months ago was rushed, and of course your capacity is dependent on the financial resources central government is prepared to make available for these children.


    However more can and must be done. The support of councils is key to the government’s ability to make this happen. Now is not the time for Britain to be pulling up the drawbridge, but rather to be opening our arms to welcome refugee children as our grandparents did years ago.


    Please stand with us on the right side of history.


    Thank you,

    Tim Kerman
  • followed this page 2017-02-16 16:55:03 +0000
  • commented 2017-02-16 16:11:50 +0000
    They have passed a resolution deploring the Government’s stance on the Dubs question, and will publicise this. Yet another council proving the duplicity of the Government.
  • commented 2017-02-16 15:06:16 +0000
    I have just written to my County Councillor and MP. The MP, Jonathon Lord, sent an automated response which included that he ‘may not always be able to respond to web generated campaign group emails’! Will let you know how it goes
  • commented 2017-02-16 14:57:56 +0000
    Sadly we have a UKIP council & MP. Not much compassion there i’m afraid
  • commented 2017-02-16 14:25:43 +0000
    Hi there.


    I’ve written lots of letters to my councillor Michael Fallon about this issue but I feel like he is one of the last people who will take action in leafy Sevenoaks. Please let me know your thoughts.


    Thanks


    Mike
  • commented 2017-02-15 15:24:22 +0000
    I wrote to Waltham Forest. No response yet.

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