Over the past two weeks civil society institutions, who are members of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, have been taking action and asking their local councils to follow the example of Kevin Davis, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston, who has pledged to resettle 50 refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq, as part of Citizens UK’s call on Government to double the number of refugees that are offered sanctuary in the UK from 750 to 1,500.
Kevin Davis, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston, said:
“Accepting a modest number of refugees into our Borough is not an easy task, but it is the right thing to do. Every council will have challenges such as housing, but by working together with civil society we will find a way to make this happen.
“The UK public and Government has donated huge amounts of aid, but sanctuary is also required for the neediest.”
The actions were timed around the UN High Commission Conference for Refugees in Geneva, on Tuesday 9th December.
Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive Liberal Judaism, said:
“Every day we watch the crisis in Syria unfold. Three million refugees have fled Syria, and more than one million of them are now in Lebanon, a country the size of Wales, yet so far the UK has resettled just 100 refugees from the region.
“The UK has a long and proud tradition of offering sanctuary to the most needy. Many of my fellow Rabbis and I have grown up keenly aware that the history of our own families could have been very different had it not been for interventions such as the Kindertransport rescue mission.
“Communities across the country, united by Citizens UK, are this weekend, taking action and asking their local council leaders to offer sanctuary to modest numbers of refugees.”
Citizens UK’s 300 member institutions include churches, schools, synagogues, mosques and trades unions as well as a number of partner charities and groups. Together the members of these diverse organisations have developed a People’s Manifesto that includes a range of asks; such as doubling the number of refugees to 1,500; dignity for those receiving care, proper training and remuneration for care workers; establishment of a community finance fund paid for by fines levied on banks and high street lenders; and an end to indefinite detention for immigration purposes.
Citizens UK member, The Rt Reverend Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon said:
“Over half of the three million refugees that have fled Syria already are under 18. This weekend is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and a festival for children in many countries. Saint Nicholas has a reputation as a bringer of gifts. What better gift could we offer to some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their immediate families than sanctuary?
“We want our local council leaders, MP’s, the Prime Minister and the delegation of officials attending the UN Refugee Conference in Geneva to know that we want them to increase the number of refugees offered sanctuary in the UK, increasing the number from 750 to 1,500.
"This isn’t about an open door immigration policy. It’s about helping some of the most vulnerable refugees and supporting them to safety."
As part of the People’s Manifesto ask, Citizens UK members have pledged to support the well-being of refugees, welcoming them into local communities and encouraging them to integrate through participation in institutions.
Nora, a recently resettled Syrian mother, faced detention and torture before escaping to a UN Camp, she said:
“As a Syrian in the UK I am very grateful for the support we have received from the government, and from groups such as Citizens UK. The people I meet tell me they want to see more refugees, identified by the UN, to be brought to safety here. I think the UK has given safety to 90 people but the need is so much greater.”