This Mother’s Day, children across the UK showed that they know families belong together – will you join them in standing up for children’s right?
On the run up to Mothering Sunday, pupils in many Schools of Sanctuary took the time to reflect on the importance of caring parent/adult figures in their lives and learn about how refugee children continue to be cruelly separated from their parents. They then stood up for their classmates and peers and said loudly ‘families belong together’.
Pupils designed beautiful and powerful Mother’s Day cards talking about what their mothers mean to them and how refugee children should be allowed to be joined by their parents. We were particularly impressed to see so many children tie this call to children’s rights and referencing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the articles 9, 10 and 22. The UK government is a signatory of the UNCRC and so this is a fantastic link to remind our representatives of their responsibility to this important convention protecting children’s rights!
St Dunstan’s Primary School in Birmingham took it one step further: seeing their sanctuary activities as a whole-school effort, they arranged a card-making event with parents and children in the school hall one Friday afternoon. This was a moving and meaningful opportunity for children to talk to their parents about what they had learnt, explain how shocked they are that refugee children can be separated from their parents, and be inspired to tell their adult loved ones what they mean to them. Together, parent/carers and children designed Mother’s Day cards they sent to their MP. Have a look at the video on twitter to see the energy, excitement and enthusiasm as everyone came together to take part in this collective action.
St Dunstan’s didn’t stop there – three pupils were interviewed by BBC Radio West Midlands about their planned activities where they talked about why they were getting involved and how important it was for us all to stand together. As one student said ‘If refugees are here by themselves without their mums – it’s not nice to not know anybody here’. Listen to the full interview here.
Why is the Families Together Action so important?
Currently, refugee children who arrive alone are unable to be reunited with parents and siblings in the UK meaning that they face being permanently separated from their families. Not only is this heart-breaking, but the past month has seen how children who arrive without their families are not getting the care, safety and support they need but instead being housed in inappropriate and inadequate hotel or independent living accommodation without suitable guardianship and protection. This has resulted in hundreds of children going missing and cases of children being abducted from hotels and facing criminal exploitation.
Even worse – the new so-called Illegal Migration Bill intends to penalises children who are already in the UK and on pathways to residency and citizenship should their parents arrive in the UK to seek asylum, taking both of these secure statuses away from them: simply as the result of their parent desperately trying to reunite with them. Learn more here.
Despite these horrific developments, the Families Together call to enable refugee children to be reunited with their parents has got cross-party support and is considered one of the most likely to get passed in coming months and years – together we can all play our part in making this a reality.
What can you do as a school?
It’s not too late to get involved – with Father’s Day coming up there’s another opportunity to get involved. We know that children often feel passionate about this injustice, so we’ve come up with a few ways for schools to join in with the campaign around Mother’s Day:
- Card-making: join in on this simple youth citizenship action by making Mother’s Day cards to send to your MP with a message inside calling on them to reunite refugee children with their parents. Take photos of the cards to post on social media and tag your MP.
- Letter-writing: write a letter to your MP explaining why the Government should allow refugee children to sponsor their parents to join them in safety in the UK. Take photos of the letters and post them on social media, tagging your MP.
TOP TIP: When trying to get your MP’s attention, always speak from the heart and make your cards and messages personal. Ask children to write about what their caregivers mean to them and how they would feel to be separated from them. Include drawings of children’s own families/ community groups and how being together makes them feel.
> You could even invite your MP to the school so you can give them the cards/letters in person!
- Stand in solidarity with refugee families: Make Mother’s Day cards with messages of support inside for refugee children/parents who are separated from each other. Take photos of the cards and messages and post on social media, tagging in @SchsOfSanctuary and @FamTogetherCo.
Need more resources or support? Have a look at the Families Together Children’s Activity Pack. There are template letters and cards available, as well as factsheets to give teachers useful background information for a classroom discussion.
If your school is interested in taking part or you want more information, please contact [email protected].