Yvette Cooper MP
Shadow Home Secretary
House of Commons
0207 219 5080
Cllr Peter Edwards
Leader of the Council
Exeter City Council
The humanitarian crisis unfolding across Europe is on a scale not seen on our continent since the Second World War.
Daily, we see news reports of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from a new form of totalitarianism. And you will have seen the heart breaking pictures of children and families.
In the 1930s Britain offered sanctuary to 10,000 Jewish children as part of the Kindertransport. And we did so because communities across the country offered to help.
I believe we all need to help together again today. I don’t believe this should be a party political issue – I hope everyone will agree that our country should offer sanctuary to desperate refugees fleeing conflict and persecution.
I have asked the Prime Minister to lead a national mission to help refugees. I have also asked for the Home Office to provide more support and longer term funding for councils to help refugees. I have asked for Ministers to work with communities and councils to see how many places we can offer to refugees from Syria and surrounding areas.
If every city took 10 refugee families, if every London borough took 10 families, if every county council took 10 families, if Scotland, Wales and every English region played their part, then in a month we’d have nearly 10,000 more places for vulnerable refugees fleeing danger, seeking sanctuary.
And it is to that end that I am writing ask your views on practical issues.
1. Would your local authority be willing in principle to engage with a humanitarian scheme along these lines?
2. Would your local authority be willing to formally take part in a convention to progress this issue as a matter of urgency?
3. Would you be able to work with the LGA on establishing workable support arrangements with the Home Office?
4. Would you ask your council officers to do an immediate assessment of how many refugees your communities would be able to give sanctuary to?
As part of your deliberations on the issue, I would urge you to also look at the work done at Sheffield and Birmingham councils to become “Cities of Sanctuary.”
We are working with Citizens UK and the Refugee Council to organise a conference, details of which will be circulated next week.
If we all do our bit, we could make an immense difference to desperate families who have no safe home to return to.
I look forward to hearing from you.
With best wishes,
Yvette Cooper MP