We are very proud to be a school with strong relationships with our local community. One such organisation is The Ammerdown Centre, a Retreat and Conference Centre that promotes hospitality, peace, and reconciliation. It aims to promote understanding and acceptance of all faiths and those with none. They arranged for Lord Dubs to speak with our students.
Lord Alfred (Alf) Dubs was born in Prague to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. He spoke of his early memories of school in Czechoslovakia during the German invasion. Aged 6 he did not understand the dangers he was leaving when he left Prague on a train alone, knowing no one. He was one of 669 children transported to Britain via the Czech Kindertransport at the start of World War II.
His father met him at Liverpool Street Station, having fled Czechoslovakia a year earlier. They were later joined by his mother who finally obtained a visa to travel. Dubs spoke Czech and German but no English, he learned fast in the playground. Dubs thinks that his early life experiences led him to become a politician.
Political Life and Lord Dubs Amendment
A Labour Party peer who sits in the House of Lords, Dubs is an advocate for child refugees. He is a regular visitor to some of the large EU migrant camps on the Greek Islands and in France. He is keen to offer the same lifeline to today’s refugees as he and thousands of children received in World War II.
The then Home Secretary, Teresa May, asked him to withdraw his proposed amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 which would allow unaccompanied child refugees safe passage to Britain. He refused and despite several setbacks, the Lord Dubs amendment was finally approved. The government decided to support the amendment due to positive public support following the death of 3 year old Alan Kurdi.
This means that there are two ways for child refugees to legally enter Britain – one is as an unaccompanied minor and the other through family reunion (where children can move to a country where they have family members).
Refugees and Support
Lord Dubs spent time talking about the poor living conditions in the refugee camps. He told how clearance of the Jungle in Calais included the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. The refugees did not disappear, some went to other camps, others disappeared but remain in the area. He stressed that these camps are full of humans and humans need hope.
“They might not all be refugees but they are all humans” – Lord Alfred Dubs.
Although the Government states there are not enough resources to take in unaccompanied minors, Dubs has found that most councils say they do have suitable spaces available. Of course, homing these young refugees isn’t enough. They may need other support to deal with the trauma they have gone through. These refugees deserve to have safety and the same opportunities as other children.
He is a believer that people’s power can make a difference. He talked about the young volunteers he met who are working with refugees in the camps. Lobbying can also be a very effective tool. Politicians want to be popular and, if they are aware that people support refugees, they will too.
What is Lobbying?
To lobby means writing or emailing their MP and local Council to state their opinion. It is also possible to do this in person by attending a constituency surgery.
Thanks to Kindertransport, over 10,000 children escaped Nazi Germany and probable death. This is why Lord Dubs is so passionate about helping refugees from Syria and other war-torn nations.