Three synagogue movements have together pledged £15,000 to help settle Syrian refugees in Britain.
Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and Masorti are joining the Methodists, the Bishop of Barking, the Muslim Council of Britain and Sir Bob Geldof in pledging to sponsor those fleeing the conflict and persecution.
The drive is coordinated by Citizens UK, which has already persuaded the 44 councils of offer more than 3,000 places to resettle refugees and identified 700 private landlords who are offering properties.
It is now calling on the Government to roll out its pledge to establish a Private Sponsorship of refugees programme – citing the life-saving impact of the Kinderstransport scheme that enabled thousands of children to flee the Nazis for safety in Britain.
Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, said: “The Jewish community here in the UK feels now is the time that it can pay forward the life-saving acts of kindness and generosity that the British people showed to them in the lead up to and during the Second World War.
“Thousands of our community, and their families, are alive due to the private sponsorship scheme put in place then. It is only right that now as we once again find ourselves at a time of crisis, when children are freezing to death in refugee camps and families feel they have no other choice than to risk drowning, that we learn from history and replicate the private sponsorship schemes offered to us.”
Citizens UK said the Government is yet to announce details of the scheme it confirmed in the autumn. It’s urging a model being called is based on the successful Canadian scheme, which is already safely and securely resettling thousands of Syrian refugees.
In a video marking the campaign, religious leaders have pledged their support alongside individuals such as David Jacobs, whose grandparents organised sponsorship for Jewish people in the 30s and 40s, Joe Grabiner, whose grandmother was part of the Kindertransport programme and Katherine Hallgarten, who was sponsored as a child to come to the UK with her family.
George Gabriel, Citizens UK said private sponsorship was “civil society accepting the challenge to help”. He added: “The UK Government has shown tremendous leadership in its monetary support for aid in the region, but the actual numbers of refugees being resettled in the UK is still minimal. We’re talking just hundreds to date.
“Delays are costing lives, despite civil society being mobilised, ready and prepared to support the safe resettlement of refugees.”
Individuals are also encouraged to pledge their support at www.refugees-welcome.org.uk/sponsorship