Interfaith campaigners aim to lobby Prime Minister over child refugees

James Harrison

There is a ‘real will’ to find homes for child refugees in the UK, campaigners have said, despite a Parliamentary defeat on the issue.

On Tuesday, MPs knocked back an attempt to revive a scheme to provide shelter for unaccompanied youngsters fleeing warzones in Syria.

Known as the Dubs Amendment, it was inspired by Lord Alf Dubs, who was brought to Britain with the Kindertransport organised by Maidenhead’s Sir Nicholas Winton on the eve of the Second World War.

Maidenhead-based rabbis Jonathan Romain and Sybil Sheridan were in the House of Commons for the vote as representatives of an interfaith group in the town which is seeking to lobby the government on the issue.

“There seems to be a real will to help these children,” said Rabbi Sheridan, “and I don’t think the defeat of the [Dubs] amendment is the end of that at all.

“If local authorities can come forward it will be possible to bring these children [to the UK].”

The group includes representatives from the Catholic, Anglican and United Reformed churches in Maidenhead, as well as Maidenhead Mosque and the Hindu Society of Maidenhead.

They now hope to be able to speak to the Prime Minster directly about the possibility of reviving the Dubs scheme in some form.

Rabbi Sheridan, who is rabbi at synagogues in London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, added she thought there was ‘an element of divine providence’ in the group’s involvement.

“Theresa May is Prime Minister and also the MP for the constituency of Nicky Winton at a time when there is a real crisis for children in the world – I think there is a reason this is happening,” she said.

Speaking to the Advertiser last month, Lord Dubs said he though Sir Nicholas, who has been referred to as the British Schindler, would have been ‘horrified’ at the government’s intention to stop taking in lone child refugees.

The Dubs scheme had hoped to help up to 3,000 children stranded in Europe without their families, but is only thought to have provided haven for about 350.

Sir Nicholas helped save the lives of more than 600 mainly Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazis.

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