UK's 'hostile environment' for asylum seekers highlighted by children in modern retelling of the nativity story


A new film released today highlights some of the challengesfacing asylum seekers in the UK through a modern retelling of thenativity story. This release comes the day after new figures fromthe Government were published revealing that in September of thisyear 37,958 asylum seekers in the UK were in receipt ofaccommodation and/or financial support of less than £6 perday.

Whilst primarily focusing on a young Mary and Joseph's effortsto find somewhere safe to stay in the UK, the film, 'A Very British Nativity', also includes a cameo from the wise men who have ditchedtheir trusty camels in favour of Micro Scooters. However, theirmission to deliver gifts is quickly scuppered by an ImmigrationEnforcement Officer, who is concerned by the group's unspecifiedtravel plans…

Martha, aged 8, who attends a Methodist Church and played Maryin the film said:

"Mary must have felt tired because she did so much walking withher suitcase and her baby. She would have been sad because shecouldn't find a home and worried about her baby. I think peopleshould watch this film. We all need to help people who have lefttheir home because something bad has happened."

The film was produced by a coalition of four Churchdenominations in the UK: the Baptist Union of Great Britain, theChurch of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United ReformedChurch.

Director of the film and policy adviser for the Churches, GracePengelly commented:

"Our Churches are very concerned about the degrading treatmentand challenges faced by asylum seekers in the UK. It is sometimesall too easy to forget that many seeking asylum have alreadyexperienced a great deal of trauma. Rather than providing thestandard of care that we would wish for ourselves, many aspects ofthe UK's asylum system appear to add to the suffering alreadyendured by those seeking refuge.

"Our hope is that in seeing this film people will be more awareof how hard this Christmas will be for some of the poorest membersof our society."

'A Very British Nativity' launches the day after therelease of the Government's quarterly migration statistics, whichshow that in September 37,958 asylum seekers received support fromthe Government's National Asylum Support Service, which means theyqualify for accommodation and/or financial support of less than £6per day. The report also reveals that so far in 2016, 45% ofappeals made by asylum seekers were allowed, indicating that thesystem currently in place is struggling to adequately assess theneeds of asylum seekers


  • A background briefing 'A Very British Nativity: the factsbehind the film' is available here
  • Behind the scenes photos from the film are available todownloadhere
  • The Government's Office for National Statistics released itsMigration Statistics Quarterly Report: November 2016 on 1 December2016. A copy of the report is available here
  • The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, theMethodist Church and the United Reformed Church collaboratetogether on issues of justice and inequality as part of the JointPublic Issues Team. For more information, please visit www.jointpublicissues.org.uk
  • The hashtag #averybritishnativity is being used to promote thefilm