On Tuesday, November 6, Wiltshire for Refugees hosted Wiltshire Council together with some locals and representatives from Corsham Town Council to the launch of their Our Turn Wiltshire campaign at the Pound Arts Centre.
The group hopes to secure a commitment from Wiltshire council that it will accept ten unaccompanied refugee children yearly if the government provides financial support.
The event had performances by Kate Duffy and Syed Najib of Phosphoros who gave stories of child refugees and asylum seekers. There were also some films about child migrants by Eithne Nightingale and an audio of Michael Morpurgo’s Imagine followed by the Our Turn video.
According to Isla Russell of WFR, “The evening was really well attended and people were deeply moved by the plight of unaccompanied refugee children and keen to do more. The current resettlement schemes are due to end in 2020.
“We can’t just turn our backs. We need to establish new routes to safety for these children. We hope to build on the good work already done by Wiltshire Council and to encourage them to make this pledge. We are asking people to sign our open letter, join our Wiltshire For Refugees Facebook group and spread the word.”
The town council chairman, Coun Steve Abbott, said: “This year marks 80 years since communities across Britain came together on the eve of World War Two to put pressure on Neville Chamberlain’s government to open its doors to child refugees escaping Nazi-occupied Europe.
“That action resulted in 10,000 children’s lives being saved in just a matter of months. I am supportive of members of the Corsham community wanting to show the same compassion to today’s child refugees as we did 80 years ago and was pleased to be able to join them at the launch of Wiltshire’s Our Turn campaign.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “Wiltshire provides a welcoming home to refugees of all ages and we have worked hard to support them so they can build new lives here and contribute to their communities.
“We were one of the first to welcome Syrian refugees three years ago and now we have more than 100 settled and contributing to their communities. Around half of these are children who have settled in schools across the county and are helping their parents with language and culture.