11 December 2009

The most important card you’ll send this Christmas

Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church leaders are reminding people to send Christmas greetings to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP, asking him to end the detention of children in the asylum system.

Last month, the Churches launched One More Card, a campaign encouraging people to add Mr Woolas to their Christmas card list. Eight-year-old Moya is among those who have already sent cards. In her handmade card she writes: "To Mr Woolas, Happy Christmas and please stop locking children up in detention." An image of her card is available here: www.flickr.com/photos/methodistmedia.

Britain is the only country in Europe to lock up the children of people who have had their asylum claims declined and the Churches are calling on the Government to keep families together.

Paediatricians, GPs and psychiatrists have described children seeking sanctuary in the UK as among those most vulnerable in society, requiring special and humane treatment.

Dr Rosalyn Proops, Officer for Child Protection at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said; "We are very concerned about the health and welfare of children in immigration detention. These children are among the most vulnerable in our communities and detention causes unnecessary harm to their physical and mental health. The current situation is unacceptable and we urge the Government to develop alternatives to detention without delay."

Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, Revd David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference and Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain have already sent their card and are asking others to make sure they don't miss the last posting date before Christmas.

People should send cards to Phil Woolas MP at the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF and can find tips for drafting their Christmas message at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/childrenindetention.

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