Safe passage

The apostle Paul has featured prominently in Morning Prayer this week (9am in StM&AA) as we have covered the closing chapters of the Book of Acts. Paul’s dangerous missionary journeys are symbolic of the chaotic and dramatic nature of faith and action within the early Church environment. Storms, shipwrecks, prison escapes are part of the pattern of what it is to be a follower of Christ. The early Christians were forced to face their own mortality through persecution and natural disaster. They were prepared to risk everything to proclaim the gospel – it meant the world to them! 

Last Sunday, Alyson Peberdy spoke about the gospel of hospitality. She described the time that she was called to the Home Office’s Visa & Immigration centre in South London to be an accompanier for child asylum seekers and refugees, making sure that they had an interpreter and a fair hearing. Alyson focussed on one child out of many, many more who had to overcome appalling violence, persecution and death of family members. This one child had to travel across seas and borders in search of safety and hospitality – but was able to do so under the so-called Dublin Regulation. 
Soon, it will not be possible for any child to seek asylum safely in the UK:

“Every year thousands of unaccompanied child refugees arrive in Europe in search of safety. They find themselves stuck in squalid camps or sleeping rough on city streets unaware of their legal right to travel safely through Europe.”  

(Safe Passage website)

The ‘Mother of all Parliaments’ will this week decide whether to end the safe passage route, after the Brexit transition – under the current Dublin Regulation. This is the only transfer allowing refugees to travel to Britain from the continent. A cross-party group of MPs is putting forward Amendment NC29 in the Immigration Bill. This amendment would prevent more children being forced into dinghies and lorries as well as protecting them from human trafficking and child slavery. The law presently enables a safe way for child refugees to reach their relatives (in the UK) and start rebuilding their lives.

I am appealing to everyone who reads this message (and please do send it to friends and relatives – anyone who can make a difference) to write to their local MP and add their name to Amendment NC29. Those in your contact group who have a Conservative MP are particularly important because the vote will hopefully be called on moral, rather than political party lines. The amendment would also reinstate a requirement on the government to give a legal route to the UK for child refugees who don’t have family here. We are asking for safe passage for children who have suffered storms, shipwrecks, persecution and prison. We must ‘do God’ and we must act now – the vote is on Monday, 19th October. This is the link, please complete it and send it. This is the gospel of justice and hospitality!


Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.