27 February 2017
By Rabbi Danny Rich
Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism’s rabbis and members pioneered the efforts to bring Syrian refugees to the United Kingdom. Sadly, despite many successes, the Government recently announced it would end the scheme whereby lone migrant and asylum seeking children in camps in Europe could come to the UK.
That is why I am urging all Liberal Jews to join a widely supported campaign by writing three polite real letters (by snail mail) to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and your local Member of Parliament.
The so-called ‘Dubs’ amendment (section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016), which is being scrapped, came about because Alf Dubs – himself a Kindertransport child and now a member of the House of Lords, who will be speaking at Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration on 6 June – successfully moved an amendment which demanded that “The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.”
Although the Government could decide on the “specified number”, after consulting with local councils, it was expected that the United Kingdom would welcome some 3,000 children from the 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children across Europe.
The decision to close the scheme is against the spirit of the original decision and, although the Government suggests local councils have no capacity to take more children, this has been strenuously denied.
So Liberal Jews – in keeping with Jewish teachings to look after the most vulnerable – must protest this decision, in the name of our Jewish tradition and in the name of our Movement.
These children are desperately vulnerable, living in appalling conditions in camps in Greece and Italy. Britain can afford to take them. And we could help care for them. Please do write to your MP, to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, and to the Prime Minster, Theresa May. The government must hear that this is not a party political issue, but one of common humanity.
Here is a quick Q&A to make things easy:
What format should my letter take?
It should be formatted as a regular letter, with your name and full address, including post code, on the top right so that you can receive a reply.
How do I address the envelope to the Prime Minister?
The Rt. Honourable Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street London, SW1A 2AA
What greeting do I use at the beginning of the letter to the Prime Minister?
Madam Prime Minister Theresa May, I am writing because… (your own personal letter in your own words goes here).
How do I address the envelope to the Home Secretary?
Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP Home Secretary, Direct Communications, Unit 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P
What salutation do I use at the beginning of the letter to the Home Secretary?
Dear Home Secretary, I am writing because… (your own personal letter in your own words goes here).
How do I get in touch with my local Member of Parliament (MP)?
You can contact your local MP by visiting the UK Government’s website, entering your postcode where requested, then the website will reveal the name, career history, website address and contact address (for hard copy letters), and email address of your local MP. There is also the phone number of their office, which you can use. Bear in mind that contacting by email whilst will certainly be registered and dealt, will most likely result in an automated response. This is a link to the website: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
How do I address the envelope to my MP?
Joe Bloggs MP (or whatever your MP’s name is) House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
What salutation do I use at the beginning of my letter or email to an MP?
Dear Mr/Ms Bloggs MP, I am writing because… (your own personal letter/email in your own words goes here)
What do I say?
This is entirely up to you as it is a personal letter. Keep it short and to the point.
Below is a suggested structure and some suggestions of forms of words:
Paragraph One – Explain why you are writing: For example: As a proud member of the British Jewish Community, As a Liberal Jew and a member of ‘North Shield’ Liberal Synagogue, As a descendent of Holocaust survivors, As a descendent of Kindertransport refugees, As a proud and concerned British citizen, I am writing to you… To express my concern about the Government’s decision to close down its pledge to the Dubs Amendment to request that the Government reverses its current position on the Dubs Amendment that the Government urgently restarts its pledge to give refuge to lone child refugees.
Paragraph Two – Why you think the Dubs Amendment is important: For example, the UK has a long history of offering help to the dispossessed and vulnerable these lone children displaced throughout Europe are vulnerable and deserve our urgent compassion.
Paragraph Three – What action you would like the Government to take now: For example, I strongly urge the Government to reverse its decision to close down the Dubs Amendment.
Final Paragraph and signing off by politely emphasising that you would like to see some action taken and that you would like a response to your letter: For example, I very much hope that our Government will consider revising its decision on the Dubs Amendment and I very much look forward to your response to this letter. Yours sincerely Izzy and Joan Gold.
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