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The Government has turned its back on vulnerable children

On Holocaust Memorial Day those of us who gathered at the Town Hall to commemorate the occasion, including her worshipful the Mayor of Ealing Patricia Walker, were enthralled by the amazing story of Michael Brown from the Castlebar area. To the outside world he is a doting grandad and friendly neighbour but he came to the UK fleeing terror in Nazi Germany aged just nine years old.

Indeed Michael was known as Franz Schlesinger when he stepped onto a “Kinder” train from Germany in 1939, expecting that his parents would follow in due course. He never saw them again after they perished at the hands of Hitler during the extermination of Jews across Europe. It is now 8 decades since this dark time and Michael has since built a new life for himself and his family in Ealing. 

I was able to raise his past in Parliament last week when I also asked about the plight of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. I told Parliament how Michael movingly described his experiences as a child refugee fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and also advocated the need for Britain to be open to children from Europe fleeing atrocities today.

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The debates around 1930s Kindertransport have contemporary relevance in relation to the current day Dubs Scheme, which seeks to rescue some of the world’s most vulnerable children from Europe and the perils of warfare.

Ealing Council has already successfully provided homes for 13 children under the scheme, and is willing to take more to “do their bit” to alleviate the suffering of refugees. There are at least 368 more spaces available for unaccompanied minors across the UK yet the current government is shirking its commitment to helping children in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Earlier this year it was announced that after accepting just 200 Dubs children, the UK will take only 150 more children under the scheme for unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. Constituents have written to me in horror at this decision.

I asked “why are the Government pulling the plug on the world’s most vulnerable by closing the Dubs scheme?” The minister before me replied that the government is not for budging.

The backlash against this shameful decision is clear in the communications I’ve had imploring me to speak out. The fight however continues.

Michael’s gripping and emotional story is told in the book he has authored Moving On: My Journey Through Life, The Memoirs of Michael Brown.

 

We Should Not Shirk Our Dubs Obligations

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A day with Certitude

Are you ever curious to see what’s at the end of those coloured plastic discs you see at the till in certain supermarkets to slot into containers for local causes?

Recently I took it upon myself to actually follow through on my curiosity and to investigate behind the scenes. I went to visit Certitude, a 25 year old charity in Ealing who do amazing work supporting people with learning disabilities.

My visit took me to Certitude’s supported housing where up to 17 residents are housed. I met Naoise, a resident at Certitude who quizzed me on Donald Trump, Special Needs Education, Theresa May and Brexit. I was truly impressed by seeing the quality of support and care offered to the residents.

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Aisling Duffy, the Chief Executive of Certitude, told me the secret to Certitude’s success was its holistic approach which coupled volunteering with socialising and connecting residents to local support groups. Not only does Certitude support its residents, but it also supports the families and carers of those who are coping with learning disabilities.

I also saw a separate housing unit for older residents just off Ealing Common. In these times of austerity and budget cuts we have seen how the Government has slashed support for the elderly. Yet at Certitude I saw how the elderly weren’t simply written off because of their age.

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Instead they were treated with the respect and support that they deserve. Certitude created an environment which fosters personal independence whilst keeping professional support on hand if the residents need it.

As I left Certitude I went off to the annual SEND fair at Ealing Town Hall organised by the Ealing Parent Carer Forum. Not only was it heartening to bump into Certitude at the fair- whose residents were manning a stall- but it was also a delight to see up to 250 visitors and exhibitors from across a range of services offering support to the young people of Ealing who are coping with various disabilities.

With the current funding pressures facing services it is more imperative than ever that the government does not make cuts to those services who serve those with the most complex needs.

The moral of the story then must be that next time you’re in Waitrose in West Ealing or Asda in Park Royal and see the option to donate to Certitude there should be no hesitation to do so.

Behind the Scenes at Certitude

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Dr Rupa Huq MP, Ealing Central and Acton

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