Writing to our MP
It is important to let our political representatives know how you feel about welcoming refugees from the Syrian conflict here in Britain. There has been a lot of fearmongering about refugees, and we need our MP and our local councillors to get the message loud and clear that there is still a lot of support in Tonbridge and Malling for resettling refugees.
We’ve made a list of those to whom you might write, and given you a few suggestions about what you might say. We’ve also included some sample letters, although we would recommend you write your own. There is no wrong or right way to write a letter to your representatives: the main advice is to keep your letter clear and polite, and to remember to give your full name and address so they can get back to you. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel – a personal letter will always have more impact.
Who to write to:
1. Write to our MP
For Tonbridge & Malling that’s Tom Tugendhat. You can read more about him here: http://www.tomtugendhat.org.uk. A letter is still the most effective way of getting in touch – a handwritten or printed letter has far more impact than an email.
You can send him post to: Tom Tugendhat, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Alternatively email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
You could explain why this is an issue you feel strongly about, and include some or all of the following:
- Ask the government to increase the number of refugees resettled in the UK to 50,000 people over five years.
- Say that while you deplore terrorist attacks like those in Paris, they must not be used as an excuse to slow down refugee resettlement. Explain that you have confidence in the UN/UK process of vetting refugees, which is extremely thorough.
- Ask Tom to support the creation of safe legal routes for refugees to reach Britain. These could include family reunion (where a refugee gets to rejoin his/her family already resident in the UK); private sponsorship (where members of the public could sponsor individual refugees to come here); and humanitarian visas (enabling those without proper documents to come here).
- Ask Tom to speak out in parliament about the community support there is in his constituency for helping refugees.
2. Write to the leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
That’s Nicolas Heslop, whom you can reach at Nicolas.Heslop@tmbc.gov.uk
You could express support for the council’s efforts to receive 10 refugee households over five years, and say you think Tonbridge could do even more. Tell him about the work of Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees, and explain why you think welcome refugees in Tonbridge will be a really good thing for the community.
3. Write to your ward representatives on TMBC
There are 54 councillors on TMBC,representing 24 wards – too many to list here! But there is a full list on the council website. Copy and paste this: https://democracy.tmbc.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx into your browser, and just enter your postcode to find out who your councillors are. Again, you could tell them why you think Tonbridge could do even more to support refugees.
4. Write to your district representatives on Kent County Council
You could ask them to ensure all boroughs in Kent play their part in taking in refugees, and describe the support there is in Tonbridge & Malling for resettlement. You could also ask them do more to help Kent Children’s Services find homes for the hundreds of unaccompanied children who have arrived in our county.
There are seven county councillors representing Tonbridge and Malling:
- Christopher Smith (Tonbridge) email@example.com
- Richard Long (Tonbridge) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Matthew Balfour (Malling RuralEast) email@example.com
- Valerie Dagger (Malling West) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Trudy Dean (Malling Central) email@example.com
- Sarah Hohler (Malling North) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Peter Homewood (Malling RuralNorth East) email@example.com
Sample letter to our MP
I ask you to call on the government to increase the number of refugees it will resettle to at least 50,000 over the next five years. Britain has a long tradition of offering sanctuary to those who need protection, and it is a tradition we must uphold. We should take the lead from allies such as Germany, France and Canada, and put compassion back at the heart of policy.
I also ask you to call on the government to create safe legal routes – such as family reunion, humanitarian visas and private sponsorship schemes – for refugees to reach Britain. As the bombing campaign and fighting in Syria intensify, the scale of human misery will only become greater. It is time for Britain to step up to its humanitarian and moral obligations, and formulate an adequate response to the crisis.
I look forward to hearing your views on this matter.
[Your address, email address and telephone number]
Sample letter to a councillor
Dear [your councillor’s name]
Re. Welcoming refugees in Tonbridge andMalling
As a local resident, I feel very strongly that Tonbridge should do its bit to welcome, accommodate and support refugees fleeing the war in Syria. I am very pleased that Tonbridge & Malling has agreed to resettle ten refugee households over the coming five years, but believe that the town can do more.
The UK has a long tradition of offering sanctuary to those who need protection, and it is vital that every district and borough in the country does whatever it can to provide shelter for those escaping war today. I would ask the council to constantly review the number of households Tonbridge and Malling can accommodate, knowing that our town will transform the life of every man, woman and child it takes in.
I belong to Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees, a group whose existence is testament to the good will towards refugees that there is in this borough. We are working with people right across the community – including faith groups, schools, community groups and individuals – all of whom share a desire to support the council in its efforts to bring vulnerable people to safety. It would be wonderful if you could support us in our work, and join us in making sure Tonbridge and Malling does as much as it possibly can to help with this crisis.
[Your address, email address and telephone number]