The Refugee Council today announces the first-ever appointment of patrons to the independent charity which works on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
The three new patrons are Emma Thompson; Hari Kunzru and Sir Bill Morris. At the Refugee Council AGM held today Naaz Coker, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said
“I am delighted to announce that these three distinguished and long-standing supporters of the Council have agreed to take on this new role. Their patronage will help to raise the profile of the Refugee Council in so many useful areas as we endeavour to stand up for the right to asylum.”
Emma Thompson released the following statement:
“I am delighted to become a patron of the Refugee Council. I have been a supporter for a number of years and have seen at first hand the great work the Refugee Council does. Helping out at the Festive Party has given me an opportunity to see how remarkable and resilient asylum seekers and refugees are and how they deserve respect and understanding.
It’s only when we imagine for ourselves what it would be like to run from state terror, torture, rape, the destruction of our homes and families that we can understand how vital it would be to find a place that welcomed us and tried to heal our wounds. Fortunately the Refugee Council provides such a place.”
Hari Kunzru released the following statement:
“I am very pleased to become a patron of the Refugee Council. My association with the organisation stems from my refusal of a literary award sponsored by the Mail on Sunday newspaper. In protest at its editorial policy of vilifying and demonising refugees and asylum seekers I suggested that instead of paying £5000 prize money to me, they should write a cheque to the Refugee Council.
I was motivated by my anger at the way refugees and asylum seekers are treated in the UK. Britain is a wealthy country and a safe country. It also has a reputation as a fair country. We have a duty of care for victims of persecution and conflict. At the moment, we are failing shamefully in that duty.
Fortunately the Refugee Council, both through its direct work with refugees and asylum seekers and its campaigning and lobbying, is leading a fightback. I am proud to be associated with this effort and will work to support it in any way I can.”
Sir Bill Morris released the following statement:
“Now more than ever Britain needs an asylum and immigration policy that has integrity, not one that is dictated by hostile headlines or driven by fears about security and terrorism. That is why I am pleased to become a patron of the Refugee Council, which has taken a lead in supporting asylum seekers and refugees.
Whilst holding office as General Secretary of the Transport and General Worker’s Union, I worked closely with the Refugee Council to end the government’s voucher scheme. I believe that refugees, like other immigrants, make a huge contribution to the UK and we should be giving them opportunities instead of denying them basic rights.
The last general election turned into a bidding war between the political parties over who could be nastiest to asylum seekers. We need to keep working with the politicians to make them see how dangerous such policies are. The Refugee Council has a huge role to play in the years to come and I will be supporting it in every way I can.”
Notes to Editors
1. The Annual General Meeting of the Refugee Council takes place on 23 January 2006 in the Camden Centre, Town Hall, London WC1H 9JE.
2. For further information contact press office: Bob Deffee 020 7346 1213 (Switchboard: 0207 820 3000). For urgent or out of hours inquiries ring 0870 0555500 and ask for pager 865169.