As British Future heads off to one of the first Jubilee street parties of the weekend to celebrate with refugees in Brixton, the Times has published this letter in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee, celebrating the contribution that refugees have made to British society during her reign.
Read the letter below.
To the editor
As Britain comes together to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, among the British citizens who will take most pride in the occasion will be those given sanctuary here during her reign.
Across those six decades, Britain has given protection to those who needed it most, whether they were fleeing the Soviet tanks which rolled into Hungary in the 1950s, or were Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin, those who left Vietnam in boats with nothing in the 1970s, or fled civil war in Sri Lanka, genocide in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, or torture in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe most recently.
Britain should be proud of doing the right thing in the six decades since Winston Churchill’s government signed up to the UN Convention protecting refugees, and which took force as the Elizabethan age was beginning. 2012 is also a year where we should now celebrate the proud and positive contribution which those who have come here as refugees have made to the fabric of British society during the Queen’s reign, in every walk of life, from business to the NHS, academia to sport, arts and culture.
There are many important, and often heated, political and policy debates about immigration. But we believe that those on different sides of these debates can agree on this: we should add our voices to those of Britain’s proudest new citizens in celebrating their “Queen of Sanctuary”, and in thanking our country for giving them refuge as well as the opportunity to contribute to our shared future.
Gavin Barwell MP
David Blunkett MP
Julian Huppert MP
Alan Johnson MP
Rt Hon the Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Rt Hon the Lord Dubs
Rt Hon Baroness Williams of Crosby
Grace Adok, refugee and charity founder
Donna Covey, chief executive, Refuge Council
Remzie Duli, refugee and youth worker
Ram Gidoomal, refugee and philanthropist
Sunder Katwala, director, British Future
Jay Rayner, writer
Paul Sathianesan, refugee and Newham councillor
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive
Cyrus Todiwala, chef and restaurant owner
Bob Vertes, refugee and academic
Christie Watson, novelist
Max Wind-Cowie, director of Progressive Conservatism project, Demos
Check out some of our Jubilee interviews with refugees here. More information on sixty years of refugee protection from the Refugee Council.
Photo: Phil Gyford