Refugees (Family Reunion) (No.2) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:58 am on 16th March 2018.

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Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Opposition Whip (Commons) 10:58 am, 16th March 2018

I thank my hon. Friend and absolutely agree. We have so many wonderful organisations in Lewisham that do so much great work.

The Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network recently told me about a woman from Gambia who fled and claimed asylum in the UK with her youngest child in 2011, after finding out that Government forces were looking for her husband and family. Although she has now been reunited with her husband and one other child, her eldest daughter turned 18 in the intervening years and has not been allowed to join her family in the UK. A further child also remains in Gambia.

These are vulnerable people. As my hon. Friends will know, it is stressful enough to negotiate the Home Office system without adding the extra difficulties associated with having suffered significant trauma. The cost of making a visa application and instructing an immigration solicitor is also a significant barrier for many.

If Members will allow me, I will lighten the mood slightly and say that I am proud of the great work that my local council, the London Borough of Lewisham, has been doing to support refugees. After formally agreeing to join the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement programme in September 2016, Lewisham Council has housed 15 families from Syria, which, last time I checked, was the second highest number of any London borough. Lewisham Council also informs me that it has offered 24 care places for unaccompanied refugee children, but the Home Office has only used one of them. That is completely unacceptable.