10/11/2016

If we can't offer a helping hand, a safe place to raise children, a refuge from war and terrorism, then I don't believe we are fufillimg our role in this world.

I've refrained from writing anything about refugees coming from Syria and other wartorn countries for a number of reasons. Primarily because of the negative, hateful comments people who have expressed any sort of opinion or compassion have been hit with.

Tonight, I met some members of a refugee family who have moved to the area.

The young boy is at the local high school and spoke impeccable English to say he has only been here for a matter of months. His father also spoke good English. They, along with the rest of their family, have been having English lessons since they arrived.

The young boy is taking part in this weekend's remembrance service, lighting a candle to signify 'peace'. A poignant and fitting choice.

He was chatting away, talking about his love of playing football with his friends at lunchtime as his dad looked on. He will be there, watching his son's big moment, on Sunday along with his three other children and his wife.

The young boy really made the conflict in Syria and the refugee situation hit home. In his school uniform, looking so relaxed and happy, it broke my heart to imagine what he has seen, and experienced, in his young life.

Barely into his teens, he and his siblings will have experienced situations that no person - let alone a child - should ever have to witness or go through.

I couldn't imagine even begin to imagine the horror this gorgeous little boy has lived through in his short years.

Now, however, he's safe, happy, and healthy. As, I'm sure, the other refugees are who have been resettled around the country.

Of course, there are issues in this country - people are struggling, the NHS is at breaking point - but we can help people. There are people in this world who need our help. Who need the safety and security that we can offer. If we can't offer a helping hand, a safe place to raise children, a refuge from war and terrorism, then I don't believe we are fufillimg our role in this world.

There are issues surrounding refugees, I understand there's a limit on resources and that people at home need help and support too, but imagining gorgeous little babies, children and young adults going through the horror that is war and terrorism breaks my heart. As a parent, all you want in life is to protect your child.

Parents shouldn't feel pushed, desperate, to escape their country to save their babies. It says a lot about where they are coming from if they view a dinghy in the sea as a safer option to the land. No parent would risk their child's life crossing oceans on unsuitable transport methods if the water wasn't safer.

Mark Stone's recent report of, literal, life and death in the Med was heartbreaking to watch. It was eye-opening in every sense the risks these people take to seek a better, safer life. Or simply just to preserve their life. If you haven't watched it, I would recommend it. (Not like I'd recommend Shrek or Toy Story, it's a completely harrowing watch, but I think it's an important one.)



There must be some cap on accepting refugees, I accept that. We can't, unfortunately, take them all. If I had my own island, I'd take as many as I could to protect and save the children of this terrible, heart breaking war.

I'm not writing this to open up a debate about refugees, or to say we should take in every refugee out there.  I'm writing it to explain how the whole refugee issue has been humanised for me. I had my own opinions on it before, but they have just been consolidated after meeting this family. I'm sure they, along with the other refugees, would have preferred to stay in their home country. To not have to move to a foreign land, learn a new language, and start a new life. Only, when they felt they had no choice, would that have ever become an option.

These people have lived through hell. I can't stop seeing the gorgeous little boy's smiley face and wonder how long that smile was absent from his face. How long was it replaced with tears for? With fear, anxiety and worry?

You hear everyone else's opinions all the time. We're drip fed information through the media and influential characters. Often, it can be racist and heartless. Not all the time, of course, but a proportion is. This only fuels extremist views, with many using the information gained from media outlets to form their own opinions. That is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It's the beauty of Britain - freedom of speech.

It's rare I agree with Piers Morgan, generally I think he speaks antagonistic nonsense, but on this I do. Nobody wants Britain to be taken for a ride, or our kindness to be taken advantage of. But I would like to think if ever, god forbid, we needed help and refuge that another country would be kind enough to welcome us; and not leave us to perish.

To those who say 'refugees shouldn't be allowed here, it's not their country' - we shouldn't look at it as an us vs them. We are all part of one huge community, sharing this earth with each other. If we can't lend a hand to those in the most desperate of situations when they need it most, then I am genuinely worried about the future of society.


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