The Tree of Peace at the Avenue Multicultural Centre (AMC), Southampton, in solidarity with Ukraine. AMC is a welcome place of sanctuary for asylum seekers in Southampton faciliated by CLEAR and Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG).Continue reading
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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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 hereContinue reading
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.”Continue reading
More than 350 people from across Winchester came to Abbey Gardens in Winchester on Tuesday 1st March to show solidarity and support at a vigil for Ukraine.
William Brook-Hart from the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG) said what had been witnessed on the TV was horrendous: “I think we’re all horrified by the events unfolding in Ukraine. We’re all very shocked. It feels quite close to home. The cities being bombarded look very much like our cities… and we can empathise very much with what people are going through and feel great solidarity with them really.”
Canon Tess Kuin Lawton of Winchester Cathedral led with a prayer for peace, followed by a one minute silence in respect for the people of Ukraine.
We are #TogetherWithRefugees and with Winchester City of Sanctuary. We call for fair and humane treatment of people who need sanctuary, and safe routes for refugees.
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Councillors Vivian Achwal, Mayor of Winchester, and Lucille Thompson, Leader of Winchester City Council, joined Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG), Southampton Stand up to Racism, and Winchester Cathedral represented by Canon Brian Rees, in standing Together with Refugees on our parade through Winchester this evening.Continue reading
On 17 November, Southampton City Art Gallery hosted the launch of a new book and walking tour guide by Professor Tony Kushner, of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations and History Department at the University of Southampton, detailing the rich history of Southampton’s migrant past.Continue reading