Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees, a voluntary group set up in Wandsworth with the aim of encouraging the borough to welcome more refugees, will be holding its first large-scale public meeting this Thursday (June 30).
The meeting takes place to coincide with National Refugee Week.
Currently, the Council houses around 55 individuals defined as “destitute”, a little over half of whom are asylum seekers.
Carmel Dann, a local resident whose son recently played in a football tournament in the Calais jungle, said “I feel there’s more that Wandsworth could do to help refugees and asylum seekers. I am attending this meeting because I want to be part of the discussion to encourage Wandsworth to provide more support for them”. She added “I am fearful that given the referendum result, it will become harder to welcome refugees in Wandsworth”.
Fleur Anderson, Labour councillor in Bedford ward, said: “The Labour Group in Wandsworth is a firm supporter of the Wandsworth Welcomes Refugee network. In a post-Brexit Wandsworth it’s more important than ever to be a welcoming community. If the number of emails I have received is anything to go by I think the meeting will be extremely well-attended”.
Lord Alf Dubs, who will be speaking at the meeting, said: “The UK has a long and proud tradition of welcoming refugees, myself included. I congratulate Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees on its work to date and look forward to cooperating closely with them. Never has there been a greater need for this group, to help and support refugees coming here, but also to argue against the alarming increase in racism and xenophobia”.
Alf Dubs, the former MP for Battersea and Chair of the Refugee Council, successfully tabled an amendment to the refugee bill to welcome unaccompanied refugee children to the UK.
The meeting will be chaired by John O’Farrell, well-known local author and comedy scriptwriter.
Councillor Fleur Anderson said: “the meeting will give us the opportunity of hearing from refugees and from members who’ve recently visited Calais. The Labour Group tabled a motion for debate on welcoming more refugees in the borough, which was sadly defeated, but there are still things that residents can do to encourage Wandsworth to support refugees and we hope the Council will reconsider their position. Other boroughs are doing more.”
The meeting takes place this Thursday June 30th at 7.30pm at the East Hill Baptist Church, SW18 2HD