Locals rally for refugees

HEARTBREAKING images of Syrian refugees splashed all over the news recently shocked a St Johns mum into action.

Shyne Adcock (below), who’s 40 and lives in St Johns Rise with her husband Kevin and their two children, explained: “After baw-ling my eyes out seeing the horrors of children washed up on beaches, I decided to set myself up as a donation station for the Woking area to help the refugees in Calais, via CalAid.”

Shyne’s ‘Cram My Van’ online campaign has quickly gained momentum. She said: “The support has been fantastic. I’ve only been collecting for a week and the van is already full.

“I’ve also received £900 for transport costs: each time the van is full I will make a trip.”

Shyne has also set herself up as a hub for Bags of Hope, providing refugee children with backpacks of supplies.

Collections are being set up all over the country and people have even offered up their spare rooms.

Meanwhile, mounting pressure on the Prime Minister resulted in him announcing on Monday that the Government would make provision for  20,000 refugees from camps in Syria over the space of five years through the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme.

Following this, Woking Borough Council released a statement to the News & Mail revealing that today (Thursday), the Executive will be considering taking up to 12 Syrian families a year over the next five years, with the scheme to be reviewed after the first year.

It said the families fleeing the war-torn Middle East would come from UN-administered refugee camps in Syria, rather than those who have crossed into the country illegally. They will be security checked by the UN High Commission for Refugees and be brought to this country.

Council Leader John Kingsbury told the News & Mail: “Following the PM’s announcement that Britain will join other European countries in offering sanctuary to those fleeing conflict in Syria, all local authorities now have a duty to contribute what they can.

“It is important that, by offering to host the refugees, we do not place a strain on services and infrastructure or exacerbate waiting lists for our most vulnerable residents.

“I am confident the policy to be considered strikes the right balance in terms of meeting our int-ernational obligations and offering a safe haven for those in need, while not placing an unmanageable burden on taxpayers.”

Councillor Kingsbury added that a large number of Woking families had been in touch offering to open their homes to Syrian refugees, or to foster or adopt unaccompanied children.

He said: “I have been touched by the generosity of all those who have offered to assist in whatever way they can.”

Woking MP Jonathan Lord added: “Our Prime Minister has made the right decision. Europe has a long and broad history of giving refuge to those whose lives are at risk. We will be taking them from the camps in Syria and not encouraging them to go through a perilous journey.

“A lot of the migrants in Calais are not in fact refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis.

“The Syrians who have made it to Europe should be processed and assessed in the country in which they arrived.”

Last Thursday, prior to David Cameron’s announcement, Euro MP Catherine Bearder visited the refugee camps in Calais. She called on the UK Government to take action, along with French authorities, to respond to the humanitarian crisis.

She visited Calais with the BBC to take part in the first radio show broadcast from the ‘jungle’, where the refugees are held.

She said: “Germany has set an example by allowing refugees to stay and apply for asylum, while the UK Government had been ignoring calls to do more to help thousands coming into Europe.”

Ms Bearder is calling on the UK to work with other EU countries to establish a common response to the crisis, including setting up common centres to process asylum claims and distributing refugees more fairly around the EU.

She added: “On Thursday I met Syrians, Afghans, Eritreans and Sudanese men and children. Many had undergone appalling journeys. It’s a dreadful place to end up and their goal is to get to the UK. I am incredibly frustrated with Mr Cameron’s political posturing instead of standing up for humanity, decency and compassion.

“We need to assess these people and work with our European partners to find a solution to this encampment.

“It’s not the British way – we have a long and proud tradition of looking after the vulnerable and those fleeing conflict and persecution. We have always managed to do the right thing.”

Local Lib Dem Leader Will Forster said: “The photos of drowned Syrian refugees were shocking. It tears my heart out to see these images.

“The UK has a strong track record in supporting human rights across the world. Local government stands ready to help, but the Conservative Central Government should be ashamed for failing to work with other countries in addressing this issue earlier.

“All local authorities should say how many refugees they will accept – and the Government must say what it will do to make sure refugees get the funding needed.  The UK cannot sit by and watch the suffering and death of refugees fleeing violence.”

For more details and to donate to Shyne’s collection you can search for ‘Cram My Van’ on Facebook, visit gofundme.com/bz3f7xr4 or send an email to cram.my.van@email.com.

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