Shift in sympathy
The politician in charge of vulnerable children in Kent says that there has been a noticeable shift in sympathy among the public towards refugees and asylum seekers, triggered by the story of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a beach.
Cllr Peter Oakford, KCC cabinet member for children’s services, said: “There has been a definite change in the public perception. I can only imagine that it was the horrific image of the threeyear-old boy. We have had a number of calls and emails from people offering help.
“It ranges from offers of clothing to sports equipment to offers of English lessons through a school. I have had a retired English teacher offering to come and help.
“We’ve had a football coach that says he has spare evenings and wants to come and run sessions for us. Where we were a few weeks ago is a very different picture to the support we are now getting.”
He said he had personally received some “very unpleasant emails and letters.”
“That is normal, isn’t it when opinion is divided on what we should be doing. To me, the big difference is that people are beginning to see the difference in the economic migrant and those that are leaving war-torn zones and seen horrendous experiences in their lives and are genuine refugees seeking safety.”
Cllr Peter Oakford