Author Archives: Suzanne Fletcher

Sanctuary in Parliament

iving a voice to those with no voice that anyone in a position of power will listen to, is surely one of the key things we believe in as Liberal Democrats.

There was the opportunity for just this at Sanctuary in Parliament last week.

Asylum seekers and refugees from throughout the country were able to go to Parliament to meet with their MPs, and tell them of the impact on their lives of living in poverty, or being destitute, and not having the right to work.

I had gone, with a non-political hat, with a team from Tees Valley, including 2 people seeking asylum who are awaiting decisions, one asylum seeker who is destitute, 2 refugees.

The MPs had been invited to attend beforehand, and with a fair bit of chasing up nearly all of those from Tees Valley did.

Also four Lib Dem Peers, Brian Paddick, Roger Roberts (and his researcher Helen Byrne), Sally Hamwee and Shas Sheehan came along, and we met Sal Brinton there too.  Ed Davey sent his caseworker as he was unable to attend himself, and Layla Moran’s researcher came as she was unwell.

One of our delegates spoke from the platform with a very moving and beautifully delivered speech.  All met with the parliamentarians, and told their stories, specifically relating to the theme, and generally got involved.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Shas Sheehan challenges the government over Calais refugee crisis

Baroness Shas Sheehan is no stranger to the refugee camps in northern France, and especially those in Calais. She has been making visits there for a year now, collecting and taking much needed supplies for those stranded there, and finding out for herself exactly what the facts are, what the problems are, and what needs to be done to remedy them.

As we know little notice has been taken of the forceful and informed pressure put on by her and the many voluntary organisations, and other individuals and groups that are doing sterling work out there. The issues have been constantly raised in the House of Lords by Shas and her colleagues, Lord Roger Roberts and Baroness Sally Hamwee in particular. Receiving only bland assurances, they have kept on pressing the case.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

A Liberal idea to empower claimants

 

At Conference we agreed a policy motion, “Mending the safety net”, on ways of stopping people from falling into poverty caused by problems with social security nets. Leaving aside the heated arguments for how this would best work, how about involving those we are talking about in having a needle and thread too ?

Whatever the ways we have of mending the safety net, those who need it must be able to understand the letters that they are sent from the officials concerned.

I am not blaming the officials, they don’t necessarily know how what is written is perceived, but what can be done is listen to the recipients.  I was a volunteer advisor with CAB for 40 years, and know how many people just do not understand what they are being told.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 16 Comments

A lifetime achievement, but still much to be done

Suzanne Fletcher 2

Suzanne Fletcher with Guy Verhofstadt

Our visit to Brussels has been one of terrific highs and awful low points.  The only thing that was consistent was the pouring rain, and the lovely welcoming help from people wherever we went.

I was there at the invitation of the committee of the regions for the ALDE-LeaDeR Awards.  I had been taken aback by being shortlisted for the Lifetime Achievement Award for long service as a councillor, for my work on environmental issues long before everyone woke up to it ( I got the first bottle – and then can – bank in Stockton in 1982), and more recently as founder member and chair of LD4SOS, an organisation within the Liberal Democrats that stands up for and campaigns on issues around asylum seekers and refugees.

The room filled with those nominated from throughout the EU for a range of different awards. There was only one other from the UK, Ray Georgeson from Otley, up for a different award from me.  I didn’t want to win; what I wanted more than anything was for the amendments from the Lords to be agreed in the House of Commons in the immigration debate that afternoon.  I silently prayed for 3,000 unaccompanied children to be given safety in the UK.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

What you can do to make a difference to the Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill returns to the House of Commons on Monday, April 25th. Some very important amendments will be coming from significant wins in the House of Lords, when it was debated there. ALL MPs need to be lobbied and told how important it is that these amendments are incorporated into what is a terrible Bill, to at least make a difference to many asylum seekers already in the UK, as well as the 3,000 unaccompanied children seeking refuge, already in Europe.

Please do take the time to write, meet, or otherwise lobby your own MP on these issues.

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: Media misunderstanding on Lib Dem immigration policy

When will the BBC begin to do its job properly, and understand what it is talking about? I woke up yesterday to a news bulletin telling me that Nick Clegg was considering raising the time limit for someone from an EU country to claim benefits. It was suggested that it would be 6 months. It then ended by saying that the Liberal Democrats were now joining other parties in concern about EU migration.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Opinion: How we made policy on asylum issues

Advocates disrupt transfer of asylum seekers from VillawoodEver wondered how party policy is made? I was on the “Immigration, Asylum and Identity” Policy Working Group, and the process has taken a whole year. Living in the north east, I daren’t begin to add up the cost of the fares, and food on the move, for meetings every 10 days on an evening in London, but it was an opportunity to get some good and Liberal policies for the Party for those asylum seekers who seek sanctuary in the UK.

Between March and …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSean Hyland 18th Dec - 1:22am
    Never been a fan of Farage. Guessing that he will, as he has always done, be certain to look after number 1 - himself.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 18th Dec - 1:17am
    Peter Watson the article makes the same point about cherry picking polls whatever side of the debate you are on and the need to look...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Dec - 1:04am
    @Sheila Gee - "Farage has served this country very well, and deserves his pension and retirement." Firstly, Farage and UKIP have not served this country...
  • User AvatarMartin 18th Dec - 12:41am
    Matt: What was leaves vision for the UK outside the EU? Do tell, because if it ever existed, it seems to have been completely forgotten....
  • User AvatarMichael BG 18th Dec - 12:33am
    @ Joe Bourke I don’t understand why you object to exempting those owner occupiers who have an income lower than the poverty level. I hate...
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 18th Dec - 12:17am
    Should be "notice to *quit*", obviously.