NJPN has produced a sample letter to send to your MP urgently requesting that the Syrian refugee programme in the UK be properly supported and funded, and expressing concern that funding is to be taken from the Overseas Aid Budget.
It is good to hear that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) has increased the number of Syrian refugees invited to the UK.
It concerns me greatly whether UK has allocated sufficient and appropriate, housing, funds and integration services.
We are told that the refugees invited to the UK will be the most vulnerable, the most needy.
We know that these will include those with disabilities, serious injuries, and mental health problems, and the most elderly.
I believe that we should provide not just the barest minimum, but the facilities necessary and sufficient to rebuild their lives with dignity, and with the health care, and social & mental health services we expect as citizens.
Yet we are hearing that the HMG plans to pay for only the first year of accommodation, and then hand the responsibility and cost over to Local Authorities. The least that HMG should do is guarantee housing funding for 5 years. Furthermore, some if not a considerable proportion of our refugees will have special housing needs, and require specialist support for some, if not all of those 5 years and beyond. Support services are themselves under severe financial constraint in because of Government and Local Authority cut-backs.
Is it true that HMG proposed that the ‘faith communities’ should bear the living costs (not housing) of these 20,000 refugees? Is this a humble recognition that ‘faith-based’ workers may have the best rapport and willingness to attend to refugees’ day-to-day needs. It may be flattering, even true, but smacks of opportunism and a poor regard, if not abandonment of the Government’s responsibility.
What is the estimated cost of the refugees’ living expenses? Has there been any feasibility study as to whether the faiths can raise, and distribute the funds in a fair way, not dependent on postcode. Will funds be pooled, and then redistributed?
Is HMG not aware that most faith-based organisations are also experiencing severe financial constraint?
Finally, HMG has said it will use the Overseas Aid budget to pay for their contribution to funding the housing costs of our refugees. How is this better that taking it from the Emergency Aid budget already being spent on these Syrian refugees?
Overseas aid budget should be spent overseas, working to prevent bad governance overseas, one of the major causes of refugees in the first place.
I fear that HMG is doing too little too late, without a clearly formulated plan so that our guests may be treated as no better than second-class citizens.
I am also concerned that several weeks after the announcement was made very little seems to have happened to put this programme into place and would be grateful for any information you could obtain as to what progress is being made. As winter approaches it is essential that vulnerable refugees not be left in the camps any longer than is necessary.
Please can you pass on my concerns to the appropriate minister, and can you assure me that you will fight for proper provision of housing and care to those who have already suffered so much.
Name and Address inc Postcode.’