Theatres across country urge government to grant refugee children legal right enter UK

6 Oct 2016

They particularly urge the minister to speed up the process by which those vulnerable young people currently living at the soon to be dismantled Calais refugee camp who are legally entitled to join their families in the UK can do so.
Though fully aware that a visit to the theatre will not be a priority for these vulnerable young people, the theatre companies are indicating their support for these children and the organisations attempting to protect them by offering the children and their families tickets to a show free of charge.
Those taking part are: Battersea Arts Centre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Bush Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Lyric Hammersmith, The National Theatre, Nuffield Southampton, The Old Vic, Playground Productions, Royal Court Theatre, Royal Exchange Manchester, Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Soho Theatre, Sonia Friedman Productions, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Unicorn Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Young Vic.
This is their joint statement:
“We understand that there are currently 1022 unaccompanied young children living alone in the ‘Jungle’ refugee and migrant camp in Calais.1
Around half 2 of these children have the legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK under the terms of the Immigration Act 2016.
As the authorities prepare for the camp’s demolition in the next three weeks, we urge the British Government to honour the legal commitment it has made to protect these children, to speed up the legal process in view of the impending eviction and to do everything it can to ensure the protection of all unaccompanied children living in Calais before the demolition begins.
We know that, on their hoped for arrival in the UK, a visit to the theatre will not be the most urgent of these children’s needs. Nonetheless we will all be delighted to welcome them and their families into our theatres across the country and to offer them seats to a show free of charge in the belief that this is one small expression of the desire of millions of UK citizens to do whatever they can to welcome these vulnerable
young people in a generous and open-hearted way. “

1 Help Refugees/L’Auberge des Migrants Census Report, September 2016
2 Ibid