Published On: 29 November 2021

The Race Equality Foundation has signed a joint statement with over 150 other organisations, asking the Government to put safety first.

Following the tragic deaths of at least 27 people in the English Channel – including children – it is time for serious action. We cannot stand by and let this Government’s harsh rhetoric and ill-thought-out approach go unchecked.

This Government’s policy of grabbing cheap headlines and blaming the French authorities while paying them millions of pounds to build fences around the Channel ports has not worked. Now people fleeing conflict, persecution and war have paid the ultimate price. We know from the warehouses overflowing with donations for Afghan refugees that the public believes in the right to seek safety. That same public cannot stand for this.

Instead of trying to blame people seeking safety for its own failures, this Government must step up to its responsibilities and focus on saving lives.

For a start, parliamentarians must rethink the Nationality and Borders Bill. Not only will these new laws take a wrecking ball to the very principle of refugee protection, but we know they are unworkable. They will push desperate people further into the arms of smuggling gangs and will only inflame our international partners who we need to work with to ensure people seeking sanctuary can do so safely.

We also need a cast-iron commitment from this Government that it will not pursue its policies on offshoring or pushbacks, which will cause even more harm and make deaths in the Channel even more likely.

Above all, this tragedy shows how urgent it is for this Government to work with its international partners to create more routes to safety for refugees. This Government demands refugees take official routes, but for most people, these simply do not exist. Refugees are left with little option but to arrive here hidden in a plane or lorry or crammed onto a small boat.

We are calling on this Government to make a long-term commitment to:

  • create a compassionate asylum system that treats all people seeking asylum in the UK with kindness and dignity
  • resettle at least 10,000 refugees each year from around the world
  • reinstate the Dubs Agreement to protect child refugees from exploitation
  • expand family reunion so that more people can be reunited with their loved ones
  • introduce a humanitarian corridor

We ask the Government to sit down with people who’ve gone through the asylum system, and their advocates, to create a new, more compassionate, and effective process which puts safety first. Now, if ever, is the time to do so.

Signed by 

Barrow Cadbury Trust, Dame Sara Llewellin DBE

Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton, CEO

Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, CEO

Freedom From Torture, Sonya Sceats, CEO

Scottish Refugee Council, Sabir Zazai, CEO

Asylum Matters, Andrea Vukovic & Paul Hook, Co-directors

Abigail Housing, Amanda Church-Mcfarlane, Co-Chief Executive Officer

Action for Refugees in Lewisham, Sophie Wickham, Director

ACH, Fuad Mahamed, CEO

Allies for Justice, Steven Shyaka, Lived experience campaigns coordinator

Amber Film and Photography Collective Laura Laffler, Director

Asylum Aid, Ian Kane, Legal Services Manager

Asylum Link Merseyside, Ewan Roberts, Centre Manager

Asylum Support Appeals Project

Asylum Welcome, Mark Goldring, Director

AVID (Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees), Ali McGinley, Director

Baca, Jimmy Zachariah, CEO

Bail for Immigration Detainees, Annie Viswanathan, Director

Big Leaf Foundation, Evie Booton, Campaigns Coordinator

Baobab Centre For Young Survivors in Exile, Jodie Bourke, Senior Manager

Boaz Trust, Ros Holland, Chef Executive

Body & Soul, Emma Colyer, Director

Bradford City of Sanctuary, Will Sutcliffe, Chair

Breaking Barriers, Matthew Powell, CEO

Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers Campaign, Jo Benefield, Coordinator

Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL), Mark Williams, Founder

British Association of Social Workers, Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive

Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees, Yvonne Rendell, Chair

Calais Action, Libby Freeman & Caroline Gregory, Founder

Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group, Catharine Walston, Chair of Executive Committee

Campaign Bootcamp, Sarah Miguel, Co-Leader

CARAS, Eleanor Brown, Director

Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, Founder

Caritas Diocese of Shrewsbury, Ben Gilchrist, CEO

Carlisle Key, Diana Vlad & Iain McNee, Housing Support Officer and Operational Manager

Channel Rescue, Kim Bryan, Co-founder

Choose Love, Cherno Jagne, COO

Citizens of the World Choir, Becky Dell and Matilda James, Musical Director and Exec Producer

City of Sanctuary Sheffield, Tom Martin, Director

City of Sanctuary UK, Sian Summers-Rees, Chief Officer

Civic Leicester, Ambrose Musiyiwa, Facilitator

Common Space Common Humanity, Dave Plumb, Coordinator

Compass Collective, Leah Gayer, Co-director

Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, Toni Soni, Centre Director

Curious Monkey, Zoe Connel, Project Coordinator for Arriving

Detention Action, Bella Sankey, Director

Doctors of the World, Ellen Waters, Director of Development

Donate4Refugees, Amber Bauer, Founder

ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking), Patricia Durr, CEO

Equanicity, Cryton Chikoko, Co-founder

FAST (First Aid Support Team), Nynke van Dijck, Founder

Fences & Frontiers, Lewis Garland, Founder / Chair

FODI (Sunderland), Steve Newman, Chair

Good Chance Theatre, Naomi Webb, Executive Director

Govan Community Project, Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, Denise McDowell, Chief Executive

Haringey Migrant Support Centre

Hastings Community of Sanctuary, Jane Grimshaw & Polly Gifford, Co-Chairs

Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees , Ailsa Dunn, Secretary

Helen Bamber Foundation, Kerry Smith, CEO

Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees, Terry Morin, Chair

Herts for Refugees, Angus Clark, CEO

Homeless Network Scotland, Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive

Hope for the Young, Matt Blacker, CEO

HOPE not hate, Nick Lowles, CEO

Hope Projects, Phil Davis, Director

Host Nottingham, Rebecca Kogan, Project Coordinator

Humans for Rights Network, Maddie Harris, Director/Founder

IMIX, Emma Harrison, CEO

Immigration Law Practioners’ Association, Nicole Francis , Chief Executive

Interfaith Scotland, Maureen Sier, Director

JRS UK, Sarah Teather, Director

Justice and Peace Scotland (Catholic) Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Jill Kent

Justice First, Jason Hussein, Project Manager

Kids in Need of Defense UK (KIND UK), Katie Fennell, National Coordinator

KRAN, Dr Razia Shariff, CEO

Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Elizabeth Jiménez-Yáñez & Dolores Modern, Policy co-coordinators

Leeds Destitute Asylum-seekers Support, Jenny Willison, Trustee

Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, Rosario Guimba-Stewart, Chief Executive

Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, John Skipworth, Chair of Council

Liberty, Martha Spurrier, Director

LOSRAS (Lewes Supports Refugees), Gill Tipping, Co-Chair

Love Welcomes, Abi Hewitt, CEO / Founder

Love 146, Philip Ishola, CEO

Malvern Green Space

Methodist Church, Geoff Charlton, Local Preacher

Micro Rainbow, Sebastian Rocca, CEO

Migrant Destitution Fund, Sian Mullen, Action Group Member

Migration Mobilities Bristol, Bridget Anderson, Director

Migrants’ Rights Network, Fizza Qureshi, CEO

Migrant Voice, Nazek Ramadan, Executive Director

NACCOM, Bridget Young, Director

NATECLA, Rachel Öner, Co-Chair

Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, Jake Rose-Brown, Founder

North East Law Centre, Rachel McPeake, Project Administrator

Nurses United UK, Anthony Johnson, Registered Nurse and Lead Organiser

O’s Refugee Aid Team, Onjali Rauf, Founder and Author

Open Aye, Becky Duncan, Director

Our Second Home, Amos Schonfield, Director

Pathways Trust, Tara Pollitt, Operations Manager

Pollination, Yasmine Balfour-Lynn, Co-Founder

Praxis, Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO

Race Equality Foundation, Jabeer Butt OBE, CEO 

Rainbow Home (North East England), Alessandra Mondin, Project worker

Rainbow Migration, Leila Zadeh, Executive Director

RAMFEL, James Tullett, CEO

Reading City of Sanctuary, Maggie Filipova Rivers, Manager

Reading Refugee Support Group, Nick  Harborne, CEO

RefuAid, Anna Jones, Co Founder

Refugee Action, Lizzie Hobbs, GPP Team Administrator

Refugee Education UK, Catherine Gladwell, Chief Executive

Refugee Legal Support (RLS), Efi Stathopoulou, Programmes Manager

Refugee ReSETTLEment, Paul  Kelly, Project leader

Refugee support East London and Essex, Pam Derwin, Admin

Refugee Survival Trust, Elaine Cameron, CEO

Refugee Trauma Initiative, Zarlasht Halaimzai, CEO and Co-Founder

Restore (a project of Birmingham Churches Together), Jeremy Thompson, Manager

Right to Remain, Lisa Matthews

Room to Heal, Elli Free, Director

Routes, Daisy Jacobs & Leyla McLennan, Co-directors

Royal College of Nursing, Geoff Earl, Council Member (personal capacity)

Runnymede Trust, Alba Kapoor, Senior Policy Officer

Rural Refugee Network, Nadia Potts, CEO

Safe Passage, Beth Gardiner Smith, CEO

Samphire, Indre Lechtimiakyte, Legal and Migrant Support Manager

Say It Loud Club, Aloysius Salle, Executive Director

Screen Share UK, Moses Seitler, Director

Scotswood Garden, Karen Dobson, CEO

Seeking Sanctuary, Phil Kerton, Co-Director

Settle Area Refugee Support, Angie Pedley, Treasurer

Social Workers Without Borders, Naomi Jackson

Solidarity With Refugees, Ros Ereira , Director

Sophie Hayes Foundation, Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO

Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group, Chris Stephens, Chair of Trustees

Southampton Action, Nikki Walters, Chair

Stand for All, Daniel Sohege, Director

Stories of Hope and Home, Stephanie Neville, Project Manager

Student Action for Refugees, Emily Crowley, Chief Executive

Swindon City of Sanctuary, Nicola Wood, Charity Manager

Tees Valley of Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, Housing Co-ordinator

The Cotton Tree Trust, Janet Gilbert, General Manager

The Iona Community, Robert Swinfen, Convenor of Migration & Asylum Network

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director

The Mercy Hub, Jeremy Cain, Coordinator

The Pickwell Foundation, Susannah Baker, Founder

The Refugee Rights Project, Izzy Hughes, Founder

The William Gomes Podcast, William Gomes, Director

the3million, Nicolas Hatton, CEO

Together with Migrant Children, Nick Watts & Jane Goldsmid, Co-Directors

Trauma Foundation South West, Judy Ryde, Founder/Clinical Director

UKCEN, Claudia Holmes, Founder

Vauxhall Community Law and Information Centre, Siobhan Taylor-Ward, Solicitor

Voices in Exile, Mel Steel, Director

Voices Without Borders, Joss Duncan & Ewa Lelontko, Co-founders

Waging Peace, Maddy Crowther & Sonja Miley, Co-Executive Directors

West Cumbria Refugee Support Network, Kelly Davis, Chair

West End Refugee Service, Hannah Barnes, Director

Women for Refugee Women, Alphonsine Kabagabo, Director

Young Roots, Jo Cobley, CEO