David George (@DavidGeorge96), Grace Jeffery’s, Rosie Melville (@Rolosmelville), James Griffins,
PORTSMOUTH City Council is under fire after asking to be taken off the list of cluster areas for refugees in the South East.
Activists gathered in Guildhall Square on the day of the vote, campaigning to support asylum seekers but despite the protests, councillors still went ahead with the decision.
A handful of people who agreed with the plan to stop more refugees entering Portsmouth, gathered on the balcony of the civic offices.
They wore masks and didn’t respond to anybody who spoke to them, and refused to be interviewed.
The Council plan to write to the Home Secretary, Theresa May demanding that the city should not allow families that are fleeing from their home countries to take refuge in the city.
Between April and June, 142 asylum seekers were placed in accommodation around the city, with Portsmouth housing 43% of the Southeast’s total.
Portsmouth is a designated cluster area where a private company contracted by the Home Office houses asylum seekers. By comparison Southampton has 61 asylum seekers in dispersed accommodation.
Multiple charities have stepped up to give support and aid to people fleeing their country, such as Save the Children, Unicef and British Red Cross.
The Red Cross works closely with other voluntary organisations and the City Council to help ensure asylum seekers are well supported in their asylum journey, and becoming independent within the local community.
Anna Griffin, senior service manager for refugee support at the Red Cross in Portsmouth, said: “The council has a proud history of welcoming asylum seekers, and it has been heartening to see the recent groundswell of support from many of the city’s residents in relation to the current Syrian crisis, alongside so many other communities across the country.
“It would be a tragedy for Portsmouth to step away from supporting vulnerable people at a time when we need councils across the country to step up.
“We are urging Portsmouth City Council to focus its energy on encouraging other local authorities to join them in supporting families as the UK prepares to welcome Syrians as part of the resettlement programme.”