REFUGEES: We must help people like us

We are very disappointed with Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s letter (Northumberland Gazette, September 10).

Firstly, we are appalled and ashamed at her Government’s inadequate and belated response to this crisis. The Government has shirked any leadership and failed to challenge xenophobic sentiment. It is mean spirited to raid the overseas aid budget to fund the insignificant numbers that this country is offering to accommodate. Additional money should be provided – Britain is richer than most other countries.

Secondly, her words were just a re-statement of her party’s line, with little personal commitment or leadership exhibited. Whilst she is quick to challenge her Government’s policies when they affect local matters to her disadvantage, she meekly follows the Government policy on issues outside the constituency border.

What is she proposing to do to galvanise local support to assist the thousands of displaced people?

Many individuals – people like us – from many countries, are on the move across the world, fleeing war, sexual violence, oppression and/or poverty. This movement will continue as climate change exacerbates these problems by making other areas uninhabitable. An acute crisis will soon become chronic.

As individuals, a county and a country we can and should act to offer much more than our politicians are proposing to help our neighbours in our global village. Many other Europeans are very welcoming to and supportive of this movement of people. We should be equally accommodating.

We do not accept the rhetoric that we are a small, overcrowded island – are islands different; are people in danger of falling off the edge into the sea?

We have plenty of space and plenty of rooms (spare bedrooms) and could, nationally, easily accommodate hundreds of thousands of people.

We also do not accept there is a significant difference between “genuine refugees” and “economic migrants”.

Both are in need, both deserve support. Both are people like us.

It was a Conservative, Norman Tebbitt, who said “Get on your bike” to seek work and a better life. A bike would be a fine thing as thousands of men, women and children walk hundreds of miles across many countries, risk their lives in unseaworthy vessels and give their last savings to traffickers, all to seek refuge in Europe.

We could be proud that we are such an attractive prospect and welcome people who exhibit so much initiative and drive. They are likely to prove a great asset to any neighbourhood. Britain has a long history of welcoming new people. Now is our turn to join this proud tradition.

Yes, taking action may be inconvenient, incur costs and require us to change and maybe take some risks. That is insignificant given the experiences and needs of our neighbours from towns and villages across the world. At a time of acute crisis, national borders and “migration controls” are almost meaningless.

Like many residents we migrated to Northumberland for the peaceful environment, and yes, economic advantage.

We have now given clothing and offered our spare bedroom and other assistance for displaced people. Our hope is to provide a safe place, food and care whilst they settle and decide their future. We do not seek any financial assistance from government (national or local). We also support charities that help UK people without a home.

Join us; together we can make a difference.

Geoff and Ros Hoskin,

The Old Butchers Shop,

Whittingham