Brighton couple’s refugee offer blocked by ‘callous’ Government policy

Catherine Marchand and Duncan Blinkhorn outside their home in Brighton. (Photograph: Office of Keith Taylor MEP) SUS-170103-102225001
Catherine Marchand and Duncan Blinkhorn outside their home in Brighton. (Photograph: Office of Keith Taylor MEP) SUS-170103-102225001

A couple from Hanover willing to offer a safe home to a child refugee said they have waited seven months to no avail.

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for the South East and a former Brighton councillor, said the pair have spent the last seven months going through a rigorous fostering process in the hope of offering a safe home to a vulnerable child fleeing conflict.

He said they are just one of many families, communities and local authorities across the UK waiting to help vulnerable child refugees, but they are unable to.

Catherine Marchand and Duncan Blinkhorn, both 55, spoke out about the Government’s ‘callous abandonment’ of child refugees ahead of today’s (March 1) Commons vote on the Dubs Amendment.

The pair said they hope to demonstrate to MPs that there are compassionate families across the UK keen and able to care for and provide homes for the 3,000 unaccompanied minors the Government had originally promised to bring to safety.

Catherine, a community nurse who has worked in the NHS for more 35 years, said: “The Government’s decision to renege on its promise to thousands of the most vulnerable refugee children is utterly appalling.

“Our lives, like many others in our position, are on hold as we wait to see whether Theresa May will let us open up our home and provide the safety and security that these unaccompanied minors so desperately need.

“The success of the World War II Kindertransport scheme, to which my family and countless others will forever owe a debt of gratitude, relied on the goodwill of national governments and their peoples. The British people’s compassion and goodwill is not lacking - so where is our Government’s? History will not judge us kindly if Theresa May insists on maintaining her callous approach to a refugee crisis that is driving unaccompanied children into the arms of human traffickers and extremist groups.”

Duncan, the co-ordinator of the Brighton Bike Hub, added: “We have invested much of the last seven months in making preparations to help. We are lucky to have the support of our community and are proud that Brighton and Hove identifies as a ‘city of sanctuary’. Ours is not an isolated case, there are families like ours in communities across the country that are keen and able to help.

“Our message to politicians is: we are here, we are waiting to help, and we are not alone; now is not the time to pull up the drawbridge, it is the time to embrace your humanity and uphold a promise you made to three thousand vulnerable child refugees.”

Keith Taylor MEP, said: “I share, wholeheartedly, Cathy and Duncan’s sense of anger and frustration at the Government’s behaviour towards the most vulnerable child refugees. While I want to commend Cathy and Duncan for their patience and their compassion it is important to recognise that their story is not unique; there are families and local authorities across the country that are waiting to provide the support and security these vulnerable children need.”

“The UK has taken just 350 lone child refugees which is nowhere near the 3000 originally proposed by Lord Dubs and is equivalent to fewer than one per local authority in the UK.”

“Britain has a proud tradition of welcoming those most in need. We stepped up to rescue 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi persecution. Which is why I am echoing Cathy and Duncan’s calls for MPs to stand by the country’s values and fight to reverse Theresa May’s decision and keep the Dubs scheme alive.”