Open letter to Amber Rudd, MP Hastings and Rye
11th October 2016
Dear Amber Rudd,
As your constituents we write to express our deep concern for at least 387 unaccompanied children in the Calais ‘Jungle’ who have been granted legal right to be in the UK. Your announcement that 100 children will be relocated to the UK within weeks is welcome. But hundreds more children have the right to relocation. Reports say demolition of the Jungle will begin this Saturday, 15th October. Unless action is taken immediately, the camp’s imminent demolition will put all the children at utmost risk. This is a life and death situation. Delaying their safe passage to the UK is a form of criminal negligence by our Government.
We have been assured of this in consultation with a highly prominent QC. This is a question oflaw. ForyouasourMPtobe accused of criminal negligence is a matter of highest concern for your constituents.
On September 1st, the full details of almost 400 children with legal claims to entry to the UK were handed to the Home Office. These documents provided everything needed to proceed. But fewer than 100 children have been transferred, all with family here. MPs from your own party are urging you to allow children from this category to enter the UK “safely and quickly”. We would extend their plea to the second, ‘Dubs’, category of children whom your Government has also given legal right to safe passage. Of this category, not one has so far been admitted.
Everything is in place to welcome the children at local authority and civil society level. It is only the Home Office’s continued dilatory action that is prolonging their time in the Jungle. East Sussex County Council’s Early Help and Social Care Department have informed us that they are “very aware that there is more to be done to provide safe care for this group of children but please be reassured that East Sussex has already stepped forward to offer help.” Hastings Council, meanwhile, has indicated its readiness to help relocate refugees, though they do not have specific responsibility for children.
Hastings and Rye have a strong tradition of stepping up to support those in need. Within the last week, your constituents have donated well over a tonne of aid, and over the last year have made particular efforts to help unaccompanied minors in Calais. Regina Volkmer, a local volunteer, offers personal testimony: “When I worked in the Calais warehouse the most popular donations coming in were children’s clothes and toys. The overwhelming pile is the epitome of the British people’s wish to help these children and it stands in harsh contrast to the lack of action the government has shown so far.” We therefore see the plight of the children in Calais as a matter of local concern. We, the undersigned community organisations and individuals, are proof that Hastings has a strong community in which children of all backgrounds can flourish.
Hastings and Rye are not only ready to welcome our share of child refugees, but are extremely concerned to prevent their further suffering or exposure to criminal abuse. We, as your constituents call on you to do everything in your power to grant safe passage to all of the children with the right to be here immediately, and allow them the opportunity to be part of our safe, flourishing community.
Cllr James Bacon
Cllr Sue Beaney
Andy Bell, Musician
Mark Benton, actor
Rosie Brocklehurst, Journalist and Writer
Liane Carroll, Musician
Marie Casey, advocacy professional
Cllr Peter Chowney, Leader, Hastings Borough Council
Cllr Kim Forward
Professor (Emeritus) Pat Fosh, Imperial Business School
and Cardiff University
Ava Fox, Refugee Volunteer, Calais
Refugee Volunteer, Lesvos
Jane Grimshaw, Company Director Jane Grimshaw Costumes
Gwyneth Herbert, musician/jazz singer
Writer, Screen writer
Dr Chris Husbands, LSE
Hastings International Organisation
Hastings Supports Refugees
Dr Felicity Laurence, composer and music educator
Refugee Volunteer Calais
Jenny Miller, Musician
Lucy Mulgan, Musician
Jamie Osborn, Volunteer, Chios
David Quantick, Broadcaster and writer
Milan Rai, Writer Cllr Alan Roberts
President, St Vincent de Paul Society, St Leonards
Cllr Dominic Sabetian
Jess Scarratt and Michael Smith, Borough Wines, Beers and Books, Hastings
Jess Steele OBE, Founder, Jericho Road Solutions
Transition Town Hastings
Regina Volkmer, Refugee Volunteer Calais
Cllr Trevor Webb
Professor Richard Wistreich
Helena Wojtczak, Writer
Women’s Voice, Community group