Leeds charities hold community gathering to challenge proposed Government bill to remove rights from refugees

Local charities held a public gathering on Friday to offer support to refugees after the Government proposed a new Nationality and Borders Bill.

Local charities held a public gathering on Friday to offer support to refugees. Photo: Asylum Matters
Local charities held a public gathering on Friday to offer support to refugees. Photo: Asylum Matters

The event took place on Friday 22 October at Mill Hill Chapel and saw Leeds citizens gather together to make and share messages of welcome.

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These messages were written and displayed on orange hearts- as the orange heart is the symbol of welcome to refugees.

Citizens gathered together to make and share messages of welcome. Photo: Asylum Matters

The event, organised by Conversation Club Leeds, Mafwa Theatre, Asylum Matters, and with support from Refugee Council and Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network, was created as part of the Together With Refugees week of action.

Thousands of people across the country joined forces during the week of action to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill and to call for a kinder, fairer and more effective approach to how the UK supports refugees.

Diana Flores, a law student, local business owner and refugee herself, said:

“Standing together to protect refugees is what makes Leeds the amazing city it is.

Leeds is the best city a refugee can call home.

It is the place where strangers become family to refugees”.

This comes as MPs return to Parliament to consider the Nationality and Borders Bill, which would mean that most people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules – meaning those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following rigorous official checks - would no longer have their rights recognised in the UK due to their method of arrival.

Other events protesting the bill include rallies in London, Glasgow, Penrith and Lancaster, a week of events and craftivism at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, school children writing messages of welcome on orange hearts to display in Halifax and a public discussion with politicians and people with lived experience.

On the proposed bill, volunteer at Leeds Conversation Club and organiser of Friday's gathering Dot Reed said:

“Volunteers at Conversation Club regularly see the misery caused by the Home Office's current self-declared 'hostile environment'.

We see people living in limbo, sometimes for years on end, unable to work or contribute to society, living in constant fear of deportation back to their countries, from which they fled in fear of their lives.

This Bill’s aim is to make life even harsher for these unfortunate people, including criminalising them simply for the way they arrive in the UK, when often they have no choice.

It is inhumane and goes completely against the values of this country.”

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