Leeds Unitarians hold refugee vigil to protest ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’

26 October 2021

Local organisations in Leeds came together on Friday 22 October for a vigil and gathering at Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel in the city centre to support refugees and asylum seekers, protesting against the government’s new Nationality and Borders Bill.

Rev. Jo James, minister of Mill Hill Chapel, said: “The Refugees and Asylum Seekers Conversation Club (founded in 2016 at Mill Hill Chapel and working towards safely re-starting after lockdown threw the very popular community resource into disarray) organised an ‘Orange Heart’ event as a symbol of compassion for refugees and to oppose the government’s Nationalities and Borders Bill. Mill Hill regular Ann Callarman worked with Leeds Asylum Seekers networks to invite local officials and we were pleased that the Leader and Deputy Leader of the council and Lord Mayor Asghar Khan showed up as well as 30 plus friends and supporters including many refugees. As Liz Slade (Unitarian Chief Officer) was visiting Yorkshire Unitarians this week, she was delighted to join us too. Events like this serve to demonstrate compassion, support and solidarity as well as strengthen individual links and community resilience.”

Volunteer at Leeds Conversation Club and organiser of Friday’s gathering Dot Reed said: “Volunteers at Conversation Club regularly see the misery caused by the Home Office’s current self-declared ‘hostile environment’. We see people living in limbo, sometimes for years on end, unable to work or contribute to society, living in constant fear of deportation back to their countries, from which they fled in fear of their lives.

This Bill’s aim is to make life even harsher for these unfortunate people, including criminalising them simply for the way they arrive in the UK, when often they have no choice. It is inhumane and goes completely against the values of this country.”

You can read more about the event in the Yorkshire Evening Post here.

You can view more photos from the event here.