Special “Orange Heart” Valentines cards were designed by Wolverhampton’s sanctuary-seekers and delivered to Wolverhampton MPs ready for Valentines Day
Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary delivered huge Valentine’s Day cards, with orange hearts – the symbol of support for refugees, to the offices of Local MPs Stuart Anderson and Jane Stevenson with a message of love and compassion for refugees. The cards were designed and made by Wolverhampton residents, including sanctuary-seekers who meet every week to enjoy time together. They ask the MPs to request the Prime Minister to stop the Rwanda flights and to provide safe routes for refugees seeking asylum in the UK.
Chair of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary Gill Kelly explained: “Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is inhumane, inefficient and very expensive. The UK should open safe routes for refugees to reach the UK. The Home Office should deal with the massive backlog of applications enabling people to start afresh in the UK, to work, pay taxes and to be part of the community.”
Refugees who come to Wolverhampton include men and women seeking safety from religious and political violence, as well as people forced to flee from organised crime. “The people we meet are often those who have tried to stand up to wrong-doing, but have eventually been forced to flee” said George Reiss, one of the charity’s trustees. “I’m often left wondering if I would have the courage to make a stand like they did.”
Many refugees bring skills that are in short supply in the UK. “Just last week we met up with a woman who arrived in this country a few years ago. She is now working as a carer, she’s doing a great job and clearly loving it. So instead of scapegoating people, we should engage with what they have to offer,” said Mrs Kelly.
Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary is a member of Together with Refugees, a coalition of 400 national and local organisations and refugees who believe in showing compassion to refugees fleeing war and persecution. The coalition is calling for a better approach to supporting refugees, that allows people to seek safety in the UK, no matter how they came here; ensures people can live in dignity while they wait to find out if they will be granted protection; and enables refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to their communities. It also wants the UK to work with other countries to do its bit to help people forced to flee their homes.
The Orange Heart is a symbol of welcome to refugees. It uses the colours of the refugee nation flag created by refugee Yara Said, for the first ever refugee team in the Olympics in 2016. The colours were inspired by a lifebelt representing hope. The heart was developed in 2021 in consultation with refugee organisations and people with lived experience.
Together With Refugees was founded by Asylum Matters, the British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action, the Refugee Council and the Scottish Refugee Council. https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk Twitter: @RefugeeTogether