Nationality and Borders Bill: Meeting with Royston Smith MP

Several Trustees of Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG) met with Royston Smith MP today to discuss the shortcomings of the Nationality and Borders Bill now in its final stages before Parliament.

I quoted part of an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by 1000 faith leaders criticising the bill.

“Criminalizing and punishing vulnerable asylum seekers who have little choice but to arrive in the UK through ‘irregular routes’, when the majority are subsequently able to prove that they have a legitimate basis for their asylum claim, is a disgraceful and dishonourable policy, and should be abandoned.”

I also cited three ways the faith leader’s letter suggested the Bill might be improved.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill provides a wonderful opportunity for the Government to stand by its traditional values of family life, community service and respect for human dignity (values that we share) and,
1. Expand family reunion rules to ensure safe passage of those children and vulnerable adults trying to reach family members in the UK,
2. Open new safe routes for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Europe and,
3. Create and implement ambitious new resettlement schemes – always setting compassionate and ambitious targets.”

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Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine

A Peace Vigil for Ukraine was held in Southampton’s Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, addressed by religious and civic community leaders including the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton;  The Right Reverend Debbie Sellin, Bishop of Southampton; Councillor Daniel Fitzhenry – Leader of Southampton City Council; Nikki Walters – Southampton City of Sanctuary; Dr Parvin Damani MBE – Muslim Council of Southampton; Chris Webb – a pastor at Above Bar Church and William Brook-Hart – City of Sanctuary and SWVG.

Watch videos of their messages here

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Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine Videos

Many people in Southampton joined together at the Peace Vigil for Ukraine in Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, which was addressed by religious and civic community leaders.

The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton welcomed people and said “it’s truly humbling to see how the people of Southampton, including those with Polish, Ukrainian and Russian connections, have come together to help the people of Ukraine.”

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Southampton: City of Sanctuary

As a city of sanctuary, Southampton has a long history of welcoming people from around the world, and in recent months we’ve worked closely with the Home Office and other local organisations to help resettle a small number of refugee families.

The volunteers who make up the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group provide vital support services for refugees and asylum seekers, providing one-on-one English language teaching, advising on legal matters, and organising activities like parties, visits and walks to help broaden residents’ experience of British life.

Cllr Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Heritage, met with the team this week to thank them for their efforts and speak with some of those being supported.

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Winchester City Council Welcomes Refugees

Heartfelt thanks to all the members of Winchester City Council, who have unanimously voted to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum to the City. Eloquent speeches by many members reflected the public’s goodwill for people who need sanctuary and appreciation of their contribution to our society and culture.Councillors expressed support for Together With Refugees campaign calling for a fairer, kinder and more effective approach to supporting refugees in the UK and to support organisations such as the University of Winchester (which is a University of Sanctuary), the community group Winchester City of Sanctuary, the Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group, Hampshire Cultural Trust and other key charities and community groups in their work to make Winchester a place of sanctuary.

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