The Jewish Community and the Kindertransport Legacy
“I arrived in this country in the summer of 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee. This country offered safety to some 10,000 children… At that time, most countries refused to help. Britain was the only country that said that it would help; we set the lead at that time and set a standard that I hope we can follow today.”
Opening routes for child refugees – a legacy for the Kindertransport
In September 2016, Jewish groups, families and friends came together to support Safe Passage to open safe and legal routes to the UK for children stuck in the Calais camps. Their initial aim was to help 10 children by raising £2,000 per group. However, their extraordinary efforts meant that £200,000 was raised and they helped to open a safe a legal route from France to the UK which over 1,000 children were able to travel through that year.
Many children are now sleeping safely in warm beds thanks to those efforts. Many lives have been saved. However, we know there are still thousands of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, hundreds of whom have family in the UK. Years of cuts to legal aid and the shortage of specialist pro-bono immigration solicitors mean that it is getting even harder for refugee children to access legal routes to safety. Recently, it took Safe Passage four months to find a lawyer willing to help a boy stuck in Italy.
In response to this crisis, the Alf Dubs Children’s Fund wants to establish Safe Passage Legal, a team of legal experts who will work to reunite up to 100 children with their families in the UK every year. The team would take on strategic cases, opening new routes to the UK, and make existing routes work better so children are not forced to spend months or years waiting to be reunited with their families.
How would Safe Passage Legal make a difference?
The team would mostly work on family reunions to the UK for unaccompanied children stuck in Europe. These children currently live in camps, shelters or on the streets, often in appalling conditions, despite having a legal right to be in the UK. Our aim is to double the number currently accessing this legal route, known as Dublin III. For every successful legal case we bring, a precedent begins to be set, making it easier for more and more children to be safely reunited with their families.
How much would Safe Passage Legal cost?
We estimate it would cost around £250,000 to set up the team and fund it for one year. This would mean that for every £2,500 raised, a child could be reunited with their family safely and legally.
How can you help?
To mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport and in remembrance of what was done back then by communities and families up and down the country, we are asking groups to help us again, to carry forward its legacy for a new generation of child refugees. Help us establish this project, help us take on the first 100 cases. Once we can show people it works, we plan to seek funding from other sources, but to do that we need to get the team up and running.
Make a donation in memory of a loved one
If you have a personal connection to the Kindertransport or are a descendant of a Jewish refugee who came to this country 80 years ago, why not make a donation in memory of a loved one to enable a child refugee in Europe today to reach safety. For every £2,500 donated, a child could be reunited with their family safely and legally.