We had a fringe meeting on this at Lib Dem Party Conference, and were pleased to have Professor Brad Blitz, founder of the Migration Observatory in Malta, with Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Associate Professor in International Refugee Law speak to us. You can see the interesting presentation from Brad here Blitz Lib Dem presentation
We were particularly pleased that Liberal Democrat Voice had provided much needed refreshment, which will have helped to draw the crowd that we had in the room. You can read all about the event on the LDV site, and join in any discussion, here http://www.libdemvoice.org/discussing-the-european-refugee-crisis-and-the-uks-responsibilities-55384.html
We had a surprise visitor, The High Commissioner for Bangladesh, who was welcomed by our Chair, John Skipworth, and invited to speak too. He spoke of what is happening with the Rohingya people, and how 100,000 had crossed the border into Bangladesh recently, and they are still pouring in, fleeing from the terrible atrocities.
As expected at a fringe meeting of ours, there were a lot of questions, and lively, informed discussion.
We are delighted that our policy motion “Learning to Communicate in English” was agreed at conference. This motion recognises the difficulties experienced by asylum seekers in developing an understanding of both written and spoken English, and calls upon the government to develop an “English for Speakers of Other Languages” (ESOL) strategy for England similar to that in the devolved administrations with funding provided. It recognises that being able to communicate in English is one of the crucial elements in enabling asylum seekers and others now residing in the UK to contribute to the local community and ultimately gain employment, as so many express the strong desire to do. ESOL teaching is best done locally and it calls for local authorities to have key responsibilities in the delivery of such strategies. It was moved by Wera Hobhouse MP, (pictured) in her first speech as MP. You can see the whole debate here, and it starts 37 minutes in. Wera started by quoting the preamble to our constitution, saying how the motion was fulfilling just that, and how important it was to put into practice what we stand for, and how important it was for all to be able to take part in our community. Layla Moran MP spoke on her amendment about the shameful blight of Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre, and how badly those detained needed to be able to express themselves. She pointed out how schools were where issues were first identified, and the Local Authority needs the resources to help. As well as others, LD4SOS members spoke up in the debate. Suzanne Fletcher spoke on local experiences of the desperation of new asylum seekers to be able to speak and understand English, and Maureen Rigg On how teaching English is not about targets but learning to live in the UK. Margot Wilson spoke on the wide range of provision needed, including the provision of crèches for mothers with small children. Jonathan Brown spoke of his experiences with Syrian refugees and their wish to learn, and integrate – but pointed out that integration was about more than fitting in, it was about having a say on their own future
Nobody spoke or voted against the motion, giving our party a clear policy on this important issue. We all need to keep on campaigning on the issue until those with the power to do so adopt what is asked for here
Many people don’t know the facts on issues around asylum seekers and refugees. Do you ?
We did a quiz at our stall at Lib Dem Conference, and although nobody got every question right, here is the winner for the second time – Bill Town, with quiz writer Jacqui Bell, being presented with Fairtrade Divine Chocolates by our chair, John Skipworth.
Here is the quiz, if you would like to use it for anything you are doing locally ? LD4SOS Quiz Autumn2017
And here are the essential answers ! LD4SOS Quiz Autumn2017 with answer
A range of information documents have now been updated on our website, under “documents”.
These range from 20 Top Facts, information on immigration detention, housing, hosting, Azure Card, Right to Work, and Refugee Resettlement. Our 2017 election manifesto is there too.
we know that facts are few and far between, and also that real information is needed when campaigning – so do have a look and download what is needed.
links are below, but for future use, go straight to “documents”
20 top facts, courtesy of Refugee Council. Do download, use and share and get the facts out there.20 TOP FACTS 29.08.2017