Theatres urge Government to honour commitment to refugee children

Yesterday theatre companies across the country urge Government to honour its commitment to refugee children with legal right to enter the UK.

21 theatre companies across the UK wrote to the immigration minister Robert Goodwill to urge the Government to honour its legal commitments under the Immigration Act 2016 yesterday. They particularly urge the minister to speed up the process by which those vulnerable young people currently living at the soon to be dismantled Calais refugee camp who are legally entitled to join their families in the UK can do so.

Though fully aware that a visit to the theatre will not be a priority for these vulnerable young people, the theatre companies are indicating their support for these children and the organisations attempting to protect them by offering the children and their families tickets to a show free of charge.

Those taking part are:  Battersea Arts Centre, Bush Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Chichester Festival Theatre, Colin Callender (Playground Entertainment), Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Lyric Hammersmith, The National Theatre, Nuffield Southampton, The Old Vic, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Exchange Manchester, Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Soho Theatre, Sonia Friedman Productions, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Unicorn Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Young Vic.

This is our joint statement:

We understand that there are currently 1022 unaccompanied young children living alone in the ‘Jungle’ refugee and migrant camp in Calais.[1] 

 Around half[2] of these children have the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK under the terms of the Immigration Act 2016.

 As the authorities prepare for the camp’s demolition in the next three weeks, we urge the British Government to honour the legal commitment it has made to protect these children, to speed up the legal process in view of the impending eviction and to do everything it can to ensure the protection of all unaccompanied children living in Calais before the demolition begins. 

 We know that, on their hoped for arrival in the UK, a visit to the theatre will not be the most urgent of these children’s needs. Nonetheless we will all be delighted to welcome them and their families into our theatres across the country and to offer them seats to a show free of charge in the belief that this is one small expression of the desire of millions of UK citizens to do whatever they can to welcome these vulnerable young people in a generous and open-hearted way.”

 

[1] Help Refugees/L’Auberge des Migrants Census Report, September 2016

[2] Ibid

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