Three students from Westminster Cathedral RC Primary School in Pimlico, with their Headteacher, Mrs Alexandra Stacey, delivered letters written by their Student Council to the Home Office on Friday 21 June, to express their concern about the safety and protection of unaccompanied refugee children during and after Brexit.
The initiative began after Mrs Stacey, invited JudyAnn Masters from Safe Passage, to give an assembly at the school for the start of Refugee Week 17-23 June, explaining what the charity does.
After the assembly, the Student Council went to the IT room to compose letters to Julia Farman Head of European Intake - UK Dublin Unit, Home Office London. The twelve students wrote about their concerns for the unaccompanied refugee children and asked questions about how Brexit will impact the children. There were also lots of suggestions on what the children might need, offers of sharing toys and the desire to have them at their school. Several students mentioned the children needed love. The school's mission statement is: Love one another as I have loved you. The students have taken this to heart.
On Friday morning 21 June, the pupils, with Mrs Alex Stacey and JudyAnn arrived at the Home Office to deliver their package of letters. Amie Anderson Head Girl, Julian Penne-Stuart Head Boy and Edward Stacey representing Student Council were ushered into a conference room by Nicola Blacoe UASC and Adult Transfer Operations, who was standing in for Julia Farman who had unfortunately been called out of London. Nicola and her aide had refreshments waiting for the students, and then took the three seats directly across from the Home Office representatives. They had a sense of purpose.
Nicola explained the three ways unaccompanied minors may enter the UK legally: the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme available to children at a high risk of harm and exploitation along with their families; the Dublin Regulation, among other conditions, says refugee minors have a right to join family members in their present country; and the Dubs Amendment, that is reminiscent of Kindertransport from 1938-40 when the German Jewish children were given asylum, stipulates that refugee children are given asylum.
She also explained that the Home Office works with other departments, agencies and charities to help the refugees. Nicola also said that local authorities then have input once the children are settled in their jurisdiction. No one is completely sure what will happen after Brexit, but, she said, the Home Office endeavours to be vigilant for all refugees especially the unaccompanied children.
The students asked questions about regulations, emergencies and the types of support the refugee children would get in various circumstances. WCPS students were also given samples of the books given to refugee children and young adults.
The morning ended with photos and an invitation for Julia and Nicola to visit WCPS to meet more students. Both women have expressed a great interest in interacting with the younger generations in hope to educate them regarding the Home Office and finding ways to work together.
On the ride back to school the students said how much they enjoyed learning about how things work and that the Home Office was a powerful place and that they felt powerful too!
Westminster Cathedral Primary School www.westminstercathedralprimary.org.uk/
Safe Passage (Charity) http://safepassage.org.uk/
Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme - Refugee Council