Save the Children supporter Yasmine Yauon reflects on the last month of milestones in our child refugee campaign.
Around the world, children are fleeing war and persecution, only to be faced with new terrors. 3.5 million are out of education.
Many are living on the streets, in overcrowded camps or locked in detention centres.
On the journey, some have lost everything. In Europe now, an estimated 95,000 children are travelling unaccompanied. 10,000 among them are missing and unaccounted for.
Campaigners like me have been calling on the government to do more: to step up, contribute and help tackle the growing crisis and support these children.
Over the past month, we’ve faced a rollercoaster of emotions.
Speaking with one voice
We were hugely disappointed when an amendment to the Immigration Bill, tabled by former refugee Lord Alf Dubs, was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons by 294 votes to 276.
If it had passed, the government would have been required to relocate and support 3,000 unaccompanied children from refugee camps in Europe to the UK.
It could’ve been a setback, but instead it just spurred us on to do more. The public reacted with fierce determination, making it clear this just wasn’t acceptable.
#3000children trended on Twitter, we wrote to MPs urging more needed to be done and 70,000 people signed a petition calling on Britain not to turn its back on child refugees.
The government listened. It announced that the UK would offer vulnerable child refugees in Europe sanctuary and a chance to build a new life here. It was an amazing achievement.
Last week, I was part of a group of Save the Children campaigners who went to the Houses of Parliament to meet and thank the parliamentarians who had led the way and championed the issue of child refugees.
Lord Dubs, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron made huge efforts to advocate for and support these children, calling on the government to take action for them.
Public support changes minds
Lord Dubs, who wrote the original amendment for the UK to take unaccompanied child refugees, was himself a child refugee and came to the UK as part of the Kindertransport rescue effort that took place before the Second World War.
He was very touched when some of our young supporters handed him a hand-made card to say thank you, and told us that “none of this would have been possible without the support from the public.”
The children supporters also got a special hug from Yvette Cooper for the card of thanks they gave her. Cooper, who is Chair of Labour’s refugee taskforce, told us that the Save the Children campaigners’ hard work had been, “essential for the government to make this decision.”
Tim Farron, who’d urged the government to play their part, heard from our children supporters about the work they’d done to raise awareness, which included producing a huge hand-printed artwork with their friends and classmates.
After meeting the parliamentarians, we went on to 10 Downing Street to deliver a card to thank David Cameron for the commitments the government made for child refugees.
We handed in a book containing messages written by the public to the Prime Minister to explain why this issue is important to them and to thank the government for the commitments they’ve made.
A New Deal for child refugees
It was also a reminder to the government that this is not the end: that they will need to continue their support for these children.
With only half of refugee children in education, we are calling on the government to ensure that no refugee child remains out of school for more than a month.
There was good news this week at the World Humanitarian Summit, as world leaders began to back our calls to get a New Deal for child refugees.
The journey’s not over yet but, whatever twists and turns are ahead of us, one thing’s certain: we’ll be there throughout, standing up and speaking out for children at the heart of this crisis.