'It’s time for Wandsworth council to show leadership on the refugee crisis'
Wandsworth Labour has called on the council to uphold its long tradition of supporting refugees and commit to accommodating at least ten refugee families urgently.
Councillor Fleur Anderson has put forward a motion “to welcome, support and accommodate refugees” to this Wednesday’s council meeting (*full text below). She said, "Like so many people I have been very moved by the stories of so many refugees fleeing their countries and needing to find safety. I felt it could have been me and my family and want to make sure we do what we can to help.
“We can do things like give items for Calais and money, but our Council could play an important role too. I’ve been really disappointed by the Council’s inaction and just saying they will wait to hear from central government. They could be lobbying the government to do more, giving concrete pledges to show that we will welcome refugees in Wandsworth, and supporting local groups who are working flat out to support refugees already living here.
“I hope that they will show more compassion and step up their act after our debate on Wednesday.”
Hassan, aged 5, one of many children that make the journey from Syria to Greece
*Motion to welcome, support and accommodate refugees in Wandsworth
This Council notes that:
Conflicts in the Middle East have created the largest refugee crisis in generations. With many refugees now in Europe and with winter approaching there is a need for urgent action.
The United Kingdom has played a leading role as one of the world’s top international donors to the region. However the UK has only accepted 216 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme since its launch in January 2014, and 5,000 Syrian refugees since 2011.
Wandsworth has a long tradition of supporting refugees, including by the South London Refugee Association who have a drop-in centre in Balham mainly run by volunteers which is currently almost overwhelmed by the numbers of people and severity of needs they see.
Over 700 people have signed a petition to ask that Wandsworth welcome 10 refugee families but received no reply to requests for the Council to make a public pledge.
This Council resolves to:
1) Pledge to accommodate at least 10 refugee families urgently if private accommodation is funded by central government and therefore without displacing those on existing housing lists, and encourage other London Boroughs to make a similar pledge by contacting all other Boroughs.
2) Become the first London ‘Borough of Sanctuary’ and facilitate coordination of refugee support with existing education, housing, immigration, employment, health, arts and other services.
3)Assess support for refugees by the Council and voluntary groups, and make a plan to address any gaps in support, including the South London Refugee Association, and the Katherine Low Settlement, and increase work with these groups to provide long-term support for refugee families.
4)Agree as a matter of urgency to authorise officers to accept refugees from Syria under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which is fully funded by central government for one year and to lobby the government to increase the length of the funding.
October 15, 2015