Today was a big day for unaccompanied child refugees currently stuck in camps in Europe.
This afternoon, the House of Commons MP’s voted on an amendment to allow more children (who are ALONE), into the UK.
The result: they voted AGAINST it…by 20 votes (287 to 267).
I can’t believe it.
It’s another moment, another decision that will go down in history. One we will all look back on in complete shame. We took 10,000 children who were fleeing the Nazi’s, so why now, when we have even more capacity, even more access to information and even more children desperate for help, have we taken only 350?
It just doesn’t make sense.
The bill would have required the government to ask local councils how many more children they would each be able to take. To date, they have made no effort to do so, suggesting that we do not have the capacity to take in any more.
I know however, from personal experience, that this is incorrect.
A year and a half ago, my parents fostered a 14 year old Eritrean refugee. My new little brother settled amazingly into family life, proceeded to learn English and is now at our local school, doing his GCSE’s.
He brought so much joy to all of our lives that in November 2016 my parents decided to take another child into our home. They thought long and hard about it but they knew they had more love to give to another child…a child left alone through war, genocide, persecution and other crazy, horrible things.
So they applied, thinking that the process, would be more straightforward the second time round. They were wrong.
My mum and dad were told that there were no more child refugees to foster. The UK are not taking any more by legal routes, so we would have to wait for them to arrive illegally, by risking their lives under trains, in the back of lorries or at the hands of people smugglers.
This seemed too crazy to me.
Here we were…a family ready to welcome a child with open arms, and on the other side of the water, I knew, were many children desperate for this opportunity.
So desperate in fact, that they WERE risking their lives on a daily basis to try and make this a reality.
I have since found out that many local councils have registered the capacity to take on more children. Birmingham has 79 places, Lewisham has 22 and Hastings and Rye have 48 more to name a few…
But today, our government still said no…
How have we gone from a country that prided ourself on being welcoming and open, a country that supported human rights, that protected the most vulnerable and did the right thing….to quite the opposite.
I grew up thinking I was from a country where I could trust that clever people, who knew much more than I did, were making good decisions on behalf of the rest of us…
So I guess it’s time now, more than ever, to take things into our own hands… to take responsibility ourselves and do everything that we can to continue to support these kids stuck in a nightmare.
Please help us continue to do so. Making a regular contribution would be a game-changer.