Loughborough Town of Sanctuary
Migrants and Asylum Seekers
What are your first thoughts when you think about immigration within the UK? Is it that Britain is far too small to cope with many nationalities? Is it about benefit tourism? Is it about taking jobs away from our own workers. Is it about taking advantage of the NHS which is free at the point of entry? Do you think that Britain needs to exercise control over the number of immigrants entering the UK? Do you think that we should welcome strangers to our shores? There are a good many half truths about the arguments against allowing migrants to our country, but there are some clear principles outlined in the Birmingham Declaration which are in line with Catholic Social Teaching:
All asylum seekers, refugees and migrants should be treated with dignity and respect.
- A fair and effective process to decide whether people need protection should be in place.
- No one should be locked up indefinitely.
- No one should be left sick or destitute in our society.
- We should welcome the stranger and help them to integrate.
Loughborough was formally adopted into the national City of Sanctuary organisation earlier this year when a group of likeminded people, set up the Loughborough Town of Sanctuary(LTOS). LTOS is a grassroots humanitarian voluntary group responding to the needs of people who are required to attend the East Midlands Immigration Enforcement Reporting Centre (EMIERC) in Loughborough.
Around 180 to 200 report every working day, travelling mainly by bus from Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
The aims of LTOS are to
- Engage individuals and groups in the local community in promoting and developing a culture of welcome and hospitality to those seeking asylum and to other migrants.
- Raise awareness in the local community of the difficulties that people seeking asylum and other migrants face and of their need to feel welcomed and supported.
To achieve its aim, LTOS:
- Raises funds to purchase refreshments and other items, as may be determined, to offer to people who are required to attend the EMIERC.
- Recruits and supports volunteers.
- Produces literature and vouchers.
- Works with local organisations that can provide relevant services and information.
- Greets and welcomes people who attend the EMIERC.
- Offers and provides information about possible sources of assistance in the cities in which they live.
- Offers and provides refreshments and other items as may be determined at no cost to people who attend the EMIERC.
- Publicises and promotes its aims.
- Explores new ways of achieving its aims.
We have now established ourselves as a group of about 20 volunteers who provide a few sessions per week to meet and greet people as they arrive at the Centre, providing them with handouts such as a small flyer with a message and a town centre map showing where buses can be accessed. We also provide vouchers for free tea or coffee (paid for by fund raising) at a local community café and provide then with details of organisations who can offer advice and support in the 3 cities, should they not be aware of them.
With 20 volunteers we cannot cover the full working day, every day of the week so we urgently need more volunteers. We ask volunteers to undertake shifts of no more than an hour and a half. If anyone is interested in joining the group, please contact me on 01509 620889 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
-Paul Carroll, St Gregory’s, Sileby, Justice and Peace Group.
LTOS Update – Word Document of above.