IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Pupils pleaded for us to welcome child refugees

23 November, 2018

Syrian refugees Leila and Mohamed Naanaa, who are now living in Upper Holloway, with Yvette Mahon, one of the landlords who have offered homes under a scheme backed by Islington Council and the Home Office

• THIS year is the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, the scheme which welcomed 10,000 child refugees to Britain in the shadow of World War II.

In that spirit, we are delighted that Islington Council has pledged to support the Our Turn campaign, and will welcome a further 100 unaccompanied child refugees to Islington over 10 years.

This pledge has been made in part after a passionate representation from pupils at Hugh Myddelton Primary School at our last council meeting.

Our Turn campaign – supported by refugee charity Safe Passage, and led by Lord Alf Dubs – calls for the establishment of a new “Children at Risk” resettlement scheme to bring 10,000 child refugees to the UK over the next 10 years.

At a recent Kinder­transport commemoration event hosted by Safe Passage, we celebrated the local authorities taking a stand and welcoming refugees in need of a safe place to call home. No local authority has pledged to welcome more unaccompanied child refugees than Islington.

Labour in local government is leading the way in providing a safe and welcoming home to refugees. Labour-led councils are pledging to welcome new residents from all over the world, and asking the government to provide financial support they need.

The government has so far failed to confirm the continuation of the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) beyond 2020. We think this is unacceptable.

Our Turn campaign is collecting pledges from local authorities to demonstrate we would gladly welcome child refugees were the government to confirm that resettlement funding will continue.

Islington recently welcomed our 15th Syrian family under VPRS. We are the only local authority with a Migrants Champion dedicated to pursuing the issues that matter to migrants and refugees, and ensuring their voices are heard.

In our bold 2018 Local Election Manifesto, Labour pledged to continue to welcome people fleeing persecution and conflict, including unaccompanied, asylum-seeking children, ensuring that services are in place to help them build new and fulfilling lives as part of our inclusive community.

We are proud to be fulfilling another of our manifesto pledges with our promise to resettle 100 unaccompanied child refugees in our borough.

As Labour councillors, we are proud of our record of standing up for everyone in our communities, and will continue to champion Islington as a welcoming home for migrants and refugees.

CLLR KAYA COMER-SCHWARTZ
Executive member for community development

CLLR SUE LUKES
Islington Council’s Migrants Champion

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