Last year the Refugees Welcome Campaign was formed in response to the largest global refugee crisis in generations.
The campaign provides resources to assist communities to lobby their national and local government representatives for greater support for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence and persecution resulting from the conflicts in the Middle East.
The campaign recognises that, with huge numbers of people displaced by conflict, there is a need for those countries that can provide refuge to respond appropriately. The campaign recognises that Britain can and should do more to help.
A model resolution has been drafted by Refugees Welcome which calls upon councils to take a number of measures to welcome, support and accommodate their fair share of refugees. The campaign calls upon each local authority to commit to resettling 50 refugees a year.
If every council agreed to this Britain would be able to resettle 10,000 a year across the country and make a real difference to the lives of desperate people.
The response received from a Horsham district councillor when asked whether they would support the Refugees Welcome motion was that the council had already agreed a response to the crisis.
The response to the need of thousands of desperate and vulnerable people seeking refuge is to agree to resettle a maximum of two families a year over five years, or a maximum of ten families in total.
This is a pitiful response from our council and is surely in no way representative of the compassion that citizens of our district feel for those fleeing for their lives.
Many councils across the country, such Birmingham, Kingston, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bradford, have responded with an offer that truly represents our country’s proud tradition of offering a warm welcome and refuge for those in need.
Horsham is a far more affluent area of the country with fewer pressing needs than some of the councils listed above. We can afford to do more and should do more.
Included in the council’s minutes noting the pitiful response to this international crisis there is mention of the council chair’ s community carol service, due to take place a few weeks later.
We hope that any councillors attending the service took the opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of the season of goodwill. Having reflected, we hope that they will resolve to consider the proposals outlined in the Refugees Welcome motion, it can be found at www.refugees-welcome.org.uk.
Any County Times readers interested in helping to lobby councillors and MPs to do more to help refugees can find suggestions on how to do so on the same website.
Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham
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