The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, is backing a campaign to make Lichfield and surrounding areas a welcoming place for refugees and asylum seekers.
Bishop Michael is supporting Lichfield District City of Sanctuary and its work for an open-hearted place where are all welcomed and treated with respect and understanding.
City of Sanctuary members believe the Nationality & Borders Bill currently going through parliament "represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK. The bill seeks to penalise those who arrive by irregular means in the UK to claim asylum, ignores the realities of why people have to flee and seek sanctuary and does not address any of the problems it purports to resolve."
They say that the latest polling suggest people want "smart, common sense policies that show kindness and help people to rebuild their lives" and that lifting the ban on people seeking asylum from working - which leaves them and their families on the poverty line - would also generate £181m in taxes and savings.
They will join others in holding home-made orange hearts at 11am this Saturday, 23 October, outside Lichfield Guildhall in solidarity with a national campaign to show support for refugees. People are encouraged to turn up with orange hearts, painted, knitted or crocheted or cut from orange paper/card. The orange heart represents compassion for people fleeing war and persecution. Inspired by the refugee nation flag and the contours of a lifebelt, it symbolises hope and kindness.
Bishop Michael said: "Our communities can be greatly enriched by people from across the world who are fleeing persecution and hardship in their own lands. For Lichfield to aim to become a City of Sanctuary is to state boldly that we want this city and its surrounding district to be open to all and to offer a place of hope and a warm welcome to all those who need it. Like many others, I am greatly concerned by the potential for the current provisions in the Nationality & Borders Bill to have the opposite effect; there is a real danger that they will increase the hardship of those who need sanctuary the most.”