Islington Councillors today met with school children from Hugh Myddelton Primary School to celebrate the council’s pledge that with government funding, it will resettle 100 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
The children and councillors were joined by Holocaust survivor and former child refugee Elsa Shamash, who came to Britain as child as part of the Kindertransport.
Children from Hugh Myddelton Primary School petitioned the council asking it to resettle 100 child refugees over the next ten years, as part of the Safe Passage Our Turn campaign.
Our Turn calls on the government to establish a new ‘Children at Risk’ resettlement scheme to bring 10,000 child refugees to the UK over the next 10 years. The campaign is led by Lord Alfred Dubs, a longtime refugee advocate who was one of 10,000 Jewish and other children rescued by the Kindertransport in the two years before the outbreak of WWII.
Following the petition, Islington Council has pledged to resettle 100 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children over ten years, as part of a future government funded ‘Child at Risk’ scheme.
Cllr Sue Lukes, Islington Council’s Migrant Champion, whose father was a Kindertransport Child, said:
“It’s wonderful to be able to sign this pledge in the same year that we are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of the Kindertransport, which was both a massive rescue operation and a collective decision to shelter and protect thousands of innocent children who were fleeing for their lives.”
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council's executive member for community development, whose grandfather was also a Holocaust survivor, said:
“Today, we know that there are tens of thousands of child refugees currently arriving in Europe, traumatized and alone.
“The UK can and should continue to welcome vulnerable and unaccompanied children into our safe and prosperous country, and we hope that demonstrating our commitment to such a program will encourage the government to provide this funding.”
Elsa Shamash, Holocaust survivor and former child refugee, said:
“We arrived in Britain as child refugees, alone and separated from our families. Now we believe the UK government should give more children the same life-saving opportunity that we had. That is why we call on the government to match the efforts of the Kindertransport by committing to resettle 10,000 child refugees over the next 10 years.”
Tim Barber, Head of Hugh Myddelton Primary School, said:
“Around a year ago, one of our pupils wrote to me with a proposal to assist unaccompanied child refugees in Europe reaching their families in the UK. Since then, she has made links with Safe Passage, met with Lord Alf Dubs and the Rt Hon Emily Thornberry; she was the founding member of the school’s refugee committee, who have now gained the attention of the local authority.
“We are immensely proud of her clarity of vision and wholeheartedly support the determination of our refugee committee in reaching out to children at risk around the world. The power of an individual voice may yet steer the moral compass of the Government.”
Notes to Editor:
- Islington Council currently cares for 25 unaccompanied asylum seeking young people in foster care, and supports a further 77 young care leavers over 18 who arrived in Britain as unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
- Islington has a long history of welcoming and supporting people into the borough. For more information on what support is available to assist those from the refugee and migrant community, please see: https://www.islington.gov.uk/advice/refugees-and-migrants
- People who are interested in fostering a child in Islington are encouraged to contact the council on firstname.lastname@example.org or see: https://www.islington.gov.uk/children-and-families/adoption-and-fostering/fostering
- For more information on the Safe Passage Our Turn campaign see: https://80yearson.org.uk/