David Chalmers, Liberal Democrat candidate for Torridge and West Devon attended an event to highlight the plight of Syrian Refugees last week in Appledore, which was organised by Community Projects South West.
Afterwards David signed a pledge issued by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants to stand up for rights of all migrants and called on other community leaders to do the same. He said:
“I was struck and saddened to hear stories of the Syrian refugees last week. But at the same time I was inspired by the wonderful community work being done locally to offer a safe and welcoming place for the refugees to re-establish themselves and their families in our area. The work of organisations such as ‘Charis Refugees’ is vital and it’s heartening and uplifting to see local communities coming together over this issue.
Whether or not I am elected as your MP in the upcoming election I will continue to work to support these local initiatives as I am the Chair of local charity “Sunrise” who host the region’s Annual Diversity Festival and have been offering support to the Syrian refugee families who have made Northern Devon their home. This is a cause close to my heart and I urge others from our community to join me. I have signed a pledge issued by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants to stand up the rights of al migrants.
The world today feels increasingly unstable and unsafe. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise in countries across the globe. President Trump has repeatedly acted to cause instability, whether by initiating trade wars or abandoning Kurdish allies in Syria; Putin’s Russia is persistently threatening the international rules-based order; and tensions continue to rise across the world. We may think we are insulated from such events here in Devon but it is not the case.
We must do all we can to protect people forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but Labour and Conservative governments have introduced a harsh system that fails to respect people’s dignity.
Thousands of asylum seekers are forced to wait many months for a decision, unable to work, rent a home or support their families. Too many people are wrongly denied asylum, with 40 per cent of refusals overturned on appeal. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who can make the system work fairly for seekers of sanctuary. We will:
- Give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied, enabling them to work in any role so that they can support themselves, integrate into their communities and contribute through taxation.
- Provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK by resettling 10,000 vulnerable refugees each year and a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years, and expanding family reunion rights.
- Fund community-sponsorship projects for refugees, and reward community groups who develop innovative and successful ways of promoting social cohesion.
- Offer asylum to people fleeing the risk of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, end the culture of disbelief for LGBT+ asylum seekers and never refuse an LGBT+ applicant on the basis that they could be discreet.
- Provide free basic English lessons to refugees and asylum seekers and scrap the 16 hours-per-week rule with respect to financial support for those unable to work due to insufficient English.
- Provide public health services, including maternity services, to people from the moment they arrive in the UK.