The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Pete West, visited Brighton Housing Trust’s Immigration Legal Service on Monday 1st January 2017.
The Mayor was accompanied by his Chaplain, Revd. Anthea Ballam.
Cllr West heard about the work of the service which, last year, worked with 184 people. The majority were under the age of 25, and thirty were under the age of 16. Many have fled form the war in Syria with others coming from Afghanistan and other areas of conflict.
Cllr Pete West said: “I was aware that BHT ran its Immigration Legal Service but until you hear about the experiences of people who are the victims of war, and the desperate measures taken to get asylum in a safe country, you cannot appreciate how lucky we are in the United Kingdom to live in peace.
“Brighton and Hove is a City of Sanctuary, and has always embraced and thrived on difference. We are famed for celebrating the diversity of our residents. People seeking sanctuary have lost their homes and families, yet bring all kinds of skills, arts, food and culture, that enrich our city.
“The Immigration Legal Service does invaluable work with the most excluded, and enforcing basic rights. It is a service all Brightonians should be proud of.”
Revd. Anthea Ballam said: “As the Chaplain to the Mayor, and Secretary of the Interfaith Contact Group of Brighton and Hove, I am privileged to meet and speak to many people doing extraordinary work throughout the City. Visiting the Immigration Legal Service has made a deep impression on me.
“The plight of refugees and asylum seekers is something I am particularly concerned about. I am appalled by what is unfolding every day. BHT’s Immigration Legal Service is essential in a world and indeed a country where innocent men, women and children are becoming less and less able to find a place to live in peace and harmony. This is a fundamental human right and this is what this superb service is working so hard to achieve.
“The Interfaith Contact Group is dedicated to providing contact, dialogue and harmony between people of all races, spiritual traditions and none in our City. It has been doing this for 20 years but it is only in the last few years that the group, its members and friends have witnessed a significantly growing need to fulfil the ethos of sanctuary in our City. “
Kate Jessop, the manager of BHT’s Immigration Legal Service said: “