|The old Huddersfield Sports Centre- not a Refugee Reception Centre|
My better half came up with the great idea of getting Huddersfield Sports Centre out of mothballs to make it into a reception centre for arriving refugees. Large halls, showers, secure, it seemed a good idea. Next let's look at what accommodation we could bring into use to address medium term needs. I was thinking of conversions of empty buildings such as Crown Court Buildings, Huddersfield Technical College, St George's Warehouse to provide personal space as an interim measure before people became embedded in the community. These refurbished units could also fulfil a role to address longer term local housing need and support. It became clear as the meeting unfolded that these ideas were far too radical and sadly unnecessary. The UK Government had not been in touch with Councils like Kirklees to ask for our assistance. Our views and support were not sought. No Minister wrote to us calling for plans on how we could best help at this time of desperate need. It is almost as if hey didn't care.
The UK Govt plan is to help 20,000 refugees over the next 4 years. That is equivalent to 96/week for the whole UK. Hungary were seeing 2000/3000 pass through their borders daily just a few weeks ago so we clearly are playing a very small Part. Given our role in destabilising the Middle East it could be argued we bear more responsibility than most European countries for the refugee crisis, but the UK Govt approach is paying money to support camps abroad so we don't have to have actual people coming to our country. I don't know whether you could call his conscience money but it sure does look like an excuse.
Ultimately I think the UK could be the losers here. The interviews with refugees showed people in crisis but also many resilient people who will make a success of their lives and bring real benefits to any community they become a part of. On that basis it looks like the new tranche of refugees could be Germany's gain and our loss. Of course people will raise the issue of population and the impact that this has on local services but if we duck our humanitarian responsibilities we abandon our humanity. Of course we have to work for a more just world and one free of conflict but if that can't be achieved then we have an obligation as fortunate people of the same species, on the same world, to help 'our own'.