Council leader should apologise for using vulnerable refugee children to justify council’s financial black hole

A rather unpleasant row has blown up over comments made by Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting on BBC Radio Shropshire earlier in the week. Speaking on why the council is struggling to balance its budget, he said that ten child refugees had been taken into care, claiming they have cost the council £1 million. He identified the nationality of the children. This was careless talk that could turn public attitudes against supporting vulnerable young people. It was also dangerous talk that could threaten the youngsters themselves.

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We are a #RefugeesWelcome town and county – update on the refugee crisis

The response to my last newsletter and online posts on the refugee crisis has been overwhelming positive. Most people want Shropshire and Ludlow to provide a safe haven for refugees.

There have of course been those that do not agree. They say we should look after ourselves before others. They say the refugee crisis is a problem for other countries, not ours. These people I can number on one hand.

Many more people want to help and are already helping. It has been is a heartfelt and encouraging reaction. Across Ludlow, Shropshire and the entire country people are organising collections, offering accommodation and suggesting ways they can support refugees. Shropshire Council has set up a working party to look at what it can do.

No one is suggesting that a large number of refugees should arrive in our county. We have been talking about maybe ten families, though I think we could take more. Ten families will increase the number households in Shropshire by 0.00008%. It is just a one in thirteen thousand increase in households.[1] To put this statistic in perspective, we have around 1,500 long-term empty homes in Shropshire.

Ludlow action

#RefugeesWelcome meeting: 1 October. A public meeting to discuss what our town can do help in the refugee crisis. Chaired by Ludlow’s mayor, Paul Draper, and myself. Open to all: 7.00 for 7.30pm at the Feathers Hotel. It’s an open session to discuss what we can all do to help during this crisis and any that follow. Continue reading “We are a #RefugeesWelcome town and county – update on the refugee crisis”

#RefugeesWelcome: Our county and country steps up a gear – it’s welcome but is it enough?

Is it enough? People will have different views on today’s announcement by David Cameron that Britain will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. My view is that it is a good start. This maximum may well need to be reviewed upwards when we get more details of responses from other EU countries. Some are taking more refugees faster. Others seemingly reticent to recognise their role in this humanitarian crisis.

Cameron’s proposal is for 4,000 refugees a year. My reading of the numbers and understanding of the crisis, and I am far from an expert, is that we will need to take more than 4,000 in the first year to ease the inevitable problems as the coming winter closes in. That will mean a step change in the central and local government bureaucracy we have for taking in refugees, finding them homes and support, and assessing their asylum applications.

Here in Shropshire, the issue will be discussed at an informal (aka private) meeting of the council’s cabinet on Wednesday. Council leader Keith Barrow has issued a statement. It is quite brief so I quote it here in full.

Shropshire Council has yet to formally make decisions concerning refugees, yet the overwhelming response is that we should play our part to help whoever we can. Our hearts reach out to those affected by war and other atrocities. Shropshire communities are already looking to help, generously offering temporary accommodation and other support, including within their own homes. Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome: Our county and country steps up a gear – it’s welcome but is it enough?”

#RefugeesWelcome: Our county and country steps up a gear – it’s welcome but is it enough?

Is it enough? People will have different views on today’s announcement by David Cameron that Britain will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. My view is that it is a good start. This maximum may well need to be reviewed upwards when we get more details of responses from other EU countries. Some are taking more refugees faster. Others seemingly reticent to recognise their role in this humanitarian crisis.

Cameron’s proposal is for 4,000 refugees a year. My reading of the numbers and understanding of the crisis, and I am far from an expert, is that we will need to take more than 4,000 in the first year to ease the inevitable problems as the coming winter closes in. That will mean a step change in the central and local government bureaucracy we have for taking in refugees, finding them homes and support, and assessing their asylum applications.

Here in Shropshire, the issue will be discussed at an informal (aka private) meeting of the council’s cabinet on Wednesday. Council leader Keith Barrow has issued a statement. It is quite brief so I quote it here in full.

Shropshire Council has yet to formally make decisions concerning refugees, yet the overwhelming response is that we should play our part to help whoever we can. Our hearts reach out to those affected by war and other atrocities. Shropshire communities are already looking to help, generously offering temporary accommodation and other support, including within their own homes. Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome: Our county and country steps up a gear – it’s welcome but is it enough?”

#RefugeesWelcome: How you can help those living in the Calais refugee camps

Updated to include further details of collection points.

Ludlow has two collection points for CALAID, a volunteer group seeking to help people in refugee camps in Calais:

  • Nicola North, Sheet Farm: nicjnorth@aol.com, 878528
  • Claire and Peter Whitehead, 2 Julian Road, 875266.

This is how CALAID describes itself:

We are a group of volunteers collecting urgently needed donations for those living in the Calais refugee camps. We believe that no person should be without access to basic human rights like shelter and warmth, and by collecting donations we can work to improve these conditions.

The situation in Calais is part of a wider migration crisis in Europe – caused largely by the displacement of people from war-torn countries such as Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea. In addition to offering support and assistance, we hope to change the perception of this crisis from one of hostility and fear to one of concern and compassion.

CALAID_banner

CALAID list of needed donations

Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome: How you can help those living in the Calais refugee camps”