Hackney campaigners urging the council to support more child refugees are to host a free evening of short films and debate tomorrow.
Refugee charity Safe Passage wants the Town Hall to pressure the government into resettling 10,000 child refugees in the UK by 2028, and help by offering 10 of them a place in the borough every year.
Hackney has so far taken in six families as part of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Scheme and says it has been working with other councils, central government, refugee organisations, and partner agencies to develop a robust resettlement model for the borough.
Local campaigners from Safe Passage are set to make their case, and deliver a petition, at the next full council meeting on 31 October.
The films, under the banner ‘Are child migrants welcome?’, document the experiences of child migrants arriving and living in the UK.
They include people who came to Hackney on the Kindertransport – German for “children’s transport” – which was the informal name for a series of rescue missions during the second world war that brought thousands of Jewish child refugees to Britain.
The films also feature Syrian children living on the Isle of Bute, and the tales of youngsters who travelled unaccompanied across Europe and through the so-called Calais Jungle.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, a Hackney resident whose mother and father arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport, said: “We have to try and put ourselves in their [child refugees’] shoes to think what it would be like if, god forbid, we would be refugees, how we would feel?
“And how we would expect others to treat us and have a more compassionate, more understanding, deeper appreciation of the refugee experience and what we can do to help them and integrate into British society?”
This year marks 80 years since the first Kindertransport rescue effort.
A spokesperson for Safe Passage said of the Sutton House event: “Eighty years later, and children are still fleeing war and still do not have a safe passage to the UK.
“This screening is in support of a petition to mark this important anniversary by asking our council to pledge to take in 10 unaccompanied child refugees a year over the next 10 years, and as part of the national campaign led by Lord Alf Dubs, who arrived in the UK as a child refugee on the Kindertransport.”
Eithne Nightingale of Child Migrant Stories said the films will “present a snapshot of the diverse range of experiences of child refugees arriving in the UK over the last 80 years”.
She added: “We hope to give the audience a first hand perspective on what it means to be a child refugee, and to encourage debate on how we as a community can help these incredibly vulnerable and resilient children.”
Mike Hamilton, a Safe Passage activist in Hackney, said “We’re calling on Hackney Council to pledge places to welcome more child refugees, to help us convince the government that it’s time to resettle more children.”
Fellow activist Rosie Rooney added: “We’re really hoping that Hackney residents will back the campaign, by coming along on to the film screening and coming along to the deputation of Hackney Council on Wednesday 31 October.”
The screenings take place from 6-8pm on Wednesday 24 October at Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, E9 6JQ.
Entrance is free but raffle tickets and contributions to refreshments are encouraged.
Book your place at actionnetwork.org