The government has made the decision to close the Dubs Scheme by the end of the financial year. The scheme was spearheaded by Lord Dubs and started in May 2016, requiring the government to arrange for the transfer of an unspecified number of the most vulnerable unaccompanied children in Europe to safety in the UK.
It was widely assumed that 3,000 unaccompanied children would be helped by the scheme but it will actually only have benefited 350 children in total (200 children have already arrived in the UK and 150 more will come by the end of the financial year). Nearly 90,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Europe in 2015 alone.
The government argues that council capacity is a reason behind the closure of the scheme. It is maintained that only 350 children have been helped by the scheme due to the number of places offered to unaccompanied refugee children by councils in response to a consultation carried out 9 months ago. Citizens UK and Help Refugees contend that the consultation with councils was poorly-run and know of councils that have come forward since the consultation to offer places to children arriving under the Dubs scheme. Help Refugees states that if each constituency offers refuge to just 5 unaccompanied minors then 3,000 children could be brought to Britain.
Please join the campaign to keep the Dubs scheme open. Lord Alf Dubs’ statement calls on us to stand on the right side of history: “Today Theresa May put Britain on the wrong side of history. To our country’s shame, she has decided to shut down the Dubs Scheme, which promised child refugees a safe future in the UK. We fought tooth and nail to win this last year. I won’t let it slip away. Join me in saying YES – I want Britain to rescue the most vulnerable child refugees. The Dubs Amendment was a promise to us – to honour our proud British tradition of welcoming those most in need. I saw that compassion and courage in Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued me as a child from the Nazi regime, along with 669 Jewish children. Acts of heroism like this define our country. They characterise the values we hold dear. Now we are faced with another such turning point in our nation’s history. Will we choose to follow Trump, or to honour our tradition of generosity, compassion and courage? Begin by signing a petition to keep the Dubs Scheme alive. Forward it widely. We won’t stop there. We’ll need to fight harder than ever, organising our communities in the days to come. In the streets, in the offices of MPs, by joining local actions. We’ve won before. We will win again.”
Citizens UK has produced a Dubs Campaign Pack. Suggested actions include:
- Signing the Citizens UK petition: www.citizensuk.org/dubs_petition
- Writing to your local council (please find a suggested letter template from Citizens UK below). Key asks: (1) Support the call to keep the Dubs scheme open and (2) Pledge to make further spaces available for children. You can find who your local councillor is here. Once you have written to your council, you can share your progress here.
- Getting in touch with your local MP and calling for an immediate re-consultation.
- Writing to your local paper
- Raising awareness through social media (you could join The Citizens UK Child Refugee Campaign Facebook Group).
- Donating to the Alf Dubs Children’s Fund – find out more here.
- Coordinating your action:
- Get in touch with your local group supporting refugees and asylum seekers to coordinate your efforts. You can find your local City of Sanctuary group here and a map of organisations across Wales can be seen here.
- We are a local coordinator for the Citizen’s UK campaign network #RefugeesWelcome and you can find information on how to join the network here.
Suggested Letter Template from Citizens UK
Dear [councillor/council leader],
We are deeply concerned at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year, and are writing to ask for your leadership.
Last year the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK to unaccompanied children.
The amendment didn’t call for Britain to help all unaccompanied children in Europe, but for us to do our bit. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme.
Now, once again, we ask you to show leadership on this issue and join other councils across the country in pledging your support for keeping the scheme open.
Lord Dubs is himself only alive because of the efforts of our grandparents and the Kindertransport programme, which saved 10,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution. His campaign united both parliament and the country, calling us to live up to the high bar set by previous generations.
To date, around 200 children have been transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment. Yesterday, the government that only 150 more will arrive from the freezing camps of Greece, before the programme is closed along with the financial year.
At this critical time, we ask you to commit to keeping the scheme alive beyond this financial year, and to offer to work to identify further spaces for eligible children.
We know the consultation process nine months ago was rushed, and of course your capacity is dependant on the financial resources central government is prepared to make available for these children.
However more can and must be done. The support of councils is key to the government’s ability to make this happen. Now is not the time for Britain to be pulling up the drawbridge, but rather to be opening our arms to welcome refugee children as our grandparents did years ago.
Please stand with us on the right side of history.
[on behalf of group x]