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Philip Toscano/PA Wire
World News

Church leaders unite to urge support for asylum seekers

by Hannah Tooley

They have suggested a number of measures including safe passage and permission to work in the UK so that those fleeing persecution can set up stable lives.

Revd Roger Walton, Chair of the West Yorkshire Methodist District, told Premier's News Hour it is also about making people feel safe once they are here. He said: "We'd like to make sure that when people come they feel at home from the beginning, that they're supported well, that they have enough time to settle and contribute to our community."

What do leaders want: 
- safe, legal passage to Europe
- ensure future citizens protection
- increase aslyum support
- allow permission to work
- prevent homeless by increasing transition period

He said that the government's pledge to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East was generous, but not enough.

"We're also asking that this should be extended, we should be more generous to those who've already found their way to Europe and our seeking to come to our country," he said.

The suggestions include establishing safe and legal routes for refugees travelling long distances to European countries, as well as respecting and protecting people that could be future citizens and allowing them permission to work.

Leaders also want to increase asylum support to at least 70% of Income Support as well as increasing the transition period from 28 to 40 days for any person granted protection in the UK.

A make-shift at 'The Jungle' in Calais, France 

Their public statement refers to Jesus referencing his own life as a refugee. He said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

It was affirmed by members of eight Christian traditions: Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, New Testament Church of God, Quaker, United Reformed Church, and the Wesleyan Holiness Church as part of a tradition where leaders get together for social causes on Ash Wednesday.

Revd Ernie Whalley, Chair of REACH, a project offering support and hospitality for asylum seekers and refugees, said: "We see on TV boats loaded with asylum seekers drifting in the Mediterranean - because of the terrible conflicts in the Middle East and parts of Africa.

"This project is one of the 'welcoming arms' of our church as we reach out in the name of Jesus who always gave a special place to the most vulnerable."

Philip Toscano/PA Wire

'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France 

Listen to Premier's Ian Britton speak to Revd Roger Walton here: 

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