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A Month-long Focus Upon Refugees Draws to a Close with a Mixture of Highs and Lows

October 1, 2020 7:07 PM

Following a month of fundraising and awareness raising about refugees and asylum in the UK, we look back at what we have achieved and the areas where there is more work to be done.

Over £2700 raised for the Red Cross

A team of nine Mid Sussex Liberal Democrats have completed their 'Miles for Refugees' challenge. By walking, running cycling and even rowing, they have travelled more than 1400 miles and raised over £2,700. There is still time to donate here: https://miles-for-refugees-2020.everydayhero.com/uk/mid-sussex-lib-dems

Miles for Refugees - Mid Sussex Lib Dem team

West Sussex County Council Spoke Up in Support of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children

Liberal Democrat county councillor Kirsty Lord secured the unanimous support of the County Council for a motion that recognised the work that WSCC does to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The motion recognised and thanked the contribution that foster families make in helping these children. Councillors also agreed regardless of personal differences of opinion, that refugees and asylum seeker deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. As a result of the publicity that the motion generated, Kirsty has been contacted by new people who are considering becoming foster carers themselves.

If you would like to find out more about fostering generally or specifically for an asylum-seeking child, more information is available here:

https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/campaigns/unaccompanied-asylum-seeking-children-uasc/

https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/adoption-and-fostering/become-a-foster-carer/

Mid Sussex District Council Passed a Motion to Treat Refugees with Dignity Compassion and Respect

A motion about treating refugees with dignity, compassion and respect was tabled by Cllr Benedict Dempsey and seconded by Cllr Lee Gibbs. It was carried thanks to the support of Liberal Democrats, Green, Independent and one or two Conservative councillors. However, the decision by the majority of the Conservative Group to abstain on this motion is a sad reflection of the divides that exist in society at large.

Nationally the negative discourse about how Britain should treat refugees rages on

Our month of campaigning on refugees came about because we were dismayed that a YouGov poll in August said that nearly half of people have little or no sympathy for people crossing the channel in small boats. Writing at the start of October 2020, there are reports that the Conservatives are considering converting disused ferries to process people seeking asylum in the UK. Rather than coming up with ever more nasty and impractical ways of treating asylum seekers, the Government most restore safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees - especially for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The UK has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those in need, and the Liberal Democrats will not let the Conservatives turn its back on them.

The Motions

West Sussex County Council Motion on unaccompanied Child Asylum Seekers

To consider the following motion, submitted by Cllr Lord, notice of which was given on 1 September 2020:

During summer 2020, the number of people arriving by boat to seek asylum in the UK has increased with an associated raised media profile for this issue. In August, Kent County Council announced that it is has now reached its capacity to accommodate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. West Sussex County Council is signed up to the voluntary National Transfer Scheme and has taken six children from Kent since June.

This Council:

(a) Recognises the United Kingdom's proud tradition of welcoming people fleeing conflict and persecution;

(b) Asks the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People to continue to work with other local authorities through the National Transfer Scheme, particularly Kent and Portsmouth, to meet the needs of as many Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children as we are able;

(c) Acknowledges the role of West Sussex County Council's Children's Services and the foster carers who provide a safe home for our Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and expresses our gratitude for their ongoing work; and

(d) Acknowledges that, notwithstanding differing personal views, anyone engaged in discourse on this issue, including elected members, has a responsibility to treat the people involved with dignity, compassion and respect.

Mid Sussex County Council Motion on Refugees

Mid Sussex District Council:

  1. Notes that the issue of refugees and people seeking asylum currently has a raised media profile in the UK.
  2. Acknowledges that the issue of asylum and international migration is a highly complex issue without simple solutions.
  3. Recognises that the UK has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to refugees who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.
  4. Affirms Mid Sussex's pride in having refugees living as part of our communities in the District.
  5. Emphasises that, notwithstanding differing views, anyone engaged in discourse on this issue has a responsibility to treat the people involved with dignity, compassion and respect.