Yorkshire welcomes refugees and takes a stand against the Anti-Refugee Bill

Halifax protests against the Bill. Photo credit: Veecca Smith-Uka, Right to Remain


Following months of campaigning against the “Anti-Refugee Bill”, which has seen protests in Settle, Skipton, Ripon, Halifax, Leeds, and Bradford, as well as action taken by leaders of Sheffield City Council, over 120 charities, faith groups, businesses, political leaders and community organisations from across Yorkshire have come together to publish a joint statement making clear our region’s support for refugees and opposing proposals in the Government’s new Nationality and Borders Bill.  

If you would like to add your name to this statement as a representative of a group or organisation, or as an elected representative, you can do so here.

The statement can be read in full here:

As leaders, charities, communities, businesses and faith groups from Yorkshire, we are proud to be a place of welcome. The recent outpouring of support across our region for people fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan is testament to this. Our spirit of care and solidarity with people seeking safety is stronger than ever, regardless of their method of travel.

The tragic loss of human life, to war, persecution, or in the Channel, is utterly devastating. Instead of allowing these avoidable deaths to continue, the UK must alter its course, showing global leadership by establishing a compassionate, humane protection system based on the right to seek asylum, safe routes and international cooperation. Only by honouring our obligations to protect refugees and ensuring safe routes to claim asylum will we prevent further tragedies from happening. 

That is why we are deeply concerned about the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which will have grave consequences for people seeking safety and for our society as a whole.

We are persuaded that the Nationality and Borders Bill is unlikely to stop people attempting to reach safety, but it will make their journeys more dangerous. It seeks to punish and criminalise people seeking safety outside the very limited resettlement schemes. It will prevent people who have fled violence and persecution from rebuilding their lives, make it nearly impossible to reunite families and prevent our communities from giving the welcome we are so proud to give. Together, we are striving to make our communities safer and stronger, but the measures in this legislation are likely to undermine our efforts by increasing destitution and inhibiting integration in our areas. 

Yorkshire is a place that is strengthened by refugees and people seeking safety, this disregard for human life cannot happen in our name. We are united in opposing this anti-refugee bill, which has been condemned by the UNHCR, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Amnesty International, a coalition of over 200 immigration lawyers and many, many others. We call on the UK Government to withdraw these cruel and divisive proposals; and instead to protect people fleeing war and persecution. 


Alex Croft, Creative Director, Kala Sangam

Alex Jagger, Treasurer, Amnesty International – Sheffield Local Group

Alexander Ferris, Associate Director – Creative Engagement, Leeds Playhouse

Ali Mahgoub, Director, Leeds Refugee Forum

Alison Lowe OBE, Deputy Mayor Policing and Crime West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Amanda Church-Mcfarlane, Co-CEO/Bradford Project Manager, Abigail Housing

Andrew Rathbone, Chair of Trustees, West Yorkshire Destitute Asylum Network (WYDAN)

Andy Dykes, Chairperson of Board of Trustees, Chilypep

Angela Everson, CEO, WomenCentre

Angie Pedley, Treasurer, Settle Refugee Support Group

Andrew Jones, Co-Chair, St. Augustine’s Centre Halifax

Ashleigh May, Founder, Mums on a Mission

Ben Deutsch, Business Owner, 5Rhythms with Ben Deutsch

Bill Dennis, Chair, Kirklees Multi-Agency Voluntary Sector Group

Blessan Babu, SPRING Front of House Welcome

Brian McDaid, Skipton & Ripon Constituency Representative, The Skipton & Ripon Labour Party

Bola Adams, Chair, Light Up Black and African Heritage Calderdale

Bukky Oladiran, Committee Member, Sisters United 

Catherine Hemmings, Director, Migrant English Support Hub (MESH)

Carol Hill, Director, Catholic Care

Celine Barry, Secretary, Richmondshire Refugee Support Group

Charles Dobson, Chair, Skipton Refugee Support Group

Councillor Audrey Smith, Councillor for Sowerby Bridge, Calderdale Council

Councillor David Jenkins, Councillor for Killingbeck and Seacroft and Deputy Executive Member, Leeds City Council

Councillor Alan Hickman, Councillor for Skipton West Ward, Skipton Town of Sanctuary

Councillor Andrew Cooper, Councillor for Newsome Ward and Leader of Green Group, Kirklees Council

Councillor Andy Brown, Leader of the Green Group, Craven District Council

Councillor Christine Gilligan, Councillor for Hillsborough, Sheffield City Council

Councillor Colin Campbell, Councillor for Otley and Yeadon, Leeds City Council

Councillor Jane Scullion, Deputy Leader, Calderdale Council

Councillor Kaltum Rivers, City Councillor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale, Sheffield City Council

David Olver, Chair of Trustees, Quakers in Yorkshire

David Paterson, Project Manager, Unity in Poverty Action (UPA)

David Swindells, Committee Member, Garforth Refugee Group

Deborah Rees, Director, Cast Doncaster

Dr Ibtissam, Director, Development and Empowerment for Women’s Advancement (DEWA)

Dr İsmail Sezgin, Manager, Yorkshire Education Solutions Ltd

Dr Kate Smith, Senior Research Fellow, University of Huddersfield

Elizabeth Thomas, Trustee, Conversation Club Leeds

Eman Elsayed, Cultural Learning and Participation Officer, Open Source Arts

Emily Aitchison, Field Organiser, Penistone People and Planet

Emily Aitchison, Field Organiser, Holmfirth Has Heart

Emily Aitchison, Field Organiser, Wakefield and the World

Emma Crossley, Project Manager, CCACP-Meeting Point

Father Francis Smith, Parish Priest, St Boniface RC Church, Bentham

Father Francis Smith, Parish Priest, St Mary & St Michael RC Parish, Settle

Frank Parnham, Secretary, Barnsley City of Sanctuary

Gary Bell, Interim Chair of Trustees, South Yorkshire Refugee Law & Justice

George Arthur, Secretary, Barnsley TUC

Gogo Leonora Charles-Louhrey, Creative Director, Hope and Dignity Hearth

Graham Millar, Executive Director, ASSIST Sheffield

Hannah West, Project Lead, Women’s Health Matters

Helen Syrop, Manager, Hope Housing

Hayley Nelson and Gill Rhodes, Directors, Learn for Life Enterprise

Heston Groenewald, Vicar, All Hallows Church Leeds

Jaden Adams, Gas Engineer, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

Jan Foster, Trustee, Doncaster Conversation Club

Jeni Vine, Co-ordinator, Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group

Jenny Owen, Development and Service Manager, Mediation Sheffield

Jenny Willison, Secretary, Leeds Destitute Asylum-Seekers Support

John Battle, Chair, Diocese of Leeds Justice & Peace Commission

John McKernaghan, Chief Officer, The Brunswick Centre

John McLaughlin, Secretary, St. Monica’s Housing Ltd

Jon Beech, Director, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network

Judy Rogers, Volunteer, Tennant House

Karen Pearse, Director, Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS)

Kathryn Ashworth, CEO, Solace

Katy Armitstead , Team Leader, Bradford Ecumenical Asylum Concern (BEACON)

Keziah Berelson and Tamsin Cooke, Co-Artistic Directors, Mafwa Theatre CIC

Leeds Anti Raids Action

Leeds Stand Up To Racism

Leeds Beckett SU Officer Team, Leeds Beckett Students’ Union

Linda Fielding, Secretary, Wakefield Amnesty International Local Group

Liz Taylor, Spokesperson, Faith Justice Action Group, Garforth

Maeve Larkin, Manager, Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield (DASH)

Maha Alomari, Project Manager, Yorkshire & Humber Maternity Stream

Majella Kilkey, Professor of Social Policy, University of Sheffield

Margaret Bruno, Co-ordinator, Bentham Area Refugee Support Group

Margaret Smith, Chair, Harrogate & Knaresborough Constituency Labour Party

Mark James, Senior Minister, New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield

Martin Mayer, Secretary, Sheffield Trade Union Council

Matthew Annable, Administrator, Skipton and the Dales for Social Change

Mike Poole, Superintendent Minister, Pateley Bridge Methodist Circuit

Moya Woolven, CEO, Basis Yorkshire

Nahim Ruhi-Khan, Muslim Co-Chair, Leeds Nisa Nashim

Neal Heard, Co-CEO/Leeds Project Manager, Abigail Housing

Pat Ki, Membership secretary, Harrogate District of Sanctuary

Paul Kelly, Project Lead, Refugee ReSETTLEment Group

Philip McCarthy, Craven Refugee Support Group

Professor Antony Bryant, Chair, Sinai Synagogue, Leeds

Rachel Goodall, Asylum Services Manager, Refugee Action

Rachel Kelly, Chief Executive, Women’s Health Matters

Rachel Saul, Project Lead, Normanton and Altofts Community Sponsorship Group

Revd Ernie Whalley, Chair, Reach Project, Baptist Church Huddersfield

Revd Dr Casey Strine, Bishop’s Advisor for Inter-Faith Affairs, Diocese of Sheffield, Church of England

Revd Gareth Jones, Minister, St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church & Highfield Trinity Methodist Church, Sheffield

Reverend Nicholas Mercer, Rector of Bolton Abbey, The Priory Church of Bolton Abbey

Rich Warburton, Artistic Director, Theatre in the Mill

Richard Davies, Chair of Trustees, Wakefield District City of Sanctuary

Richard Hargreaves, Coordinator, BIASAN – Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support and Advice Network and Network

Richard Stroud, Trustee, Bradford Synagogue

Roger Nyantou, Chief Officer, Refugee Education Training Advice Service Leeds (RETAS Leeds)

Rose McCarthy, Committee Member, Leeds City of Sanctuary

Rosie MacPherson, Artistic Director, Stand and Be Counted Theatre

Rosie Tunnadine, Campaigns Coordinator, STAR Leeds

Ruth Cooper-Haime, Society President, Leeds Beckett STAR Group

Sally Brown, Trustee, Leeds Destitute Asylum Seekers’ Support (LEDAS)

Sam Walby, Director, Opus Independents Ltd

Sara Trewhitt, Campaigns Lead, Ripon City of Sanctuary

Sarli Nana, Organiser, Yorkshire & Humber, Migrants Organise 

Simon Jones, Founder, Peaceful Birders

Simon Murch, Joint Secretary, Sheffield National Education Union

Simon Myerson QC, Chair, Leeds Jewish Representative Council

Simon Phillips, Co-Chair, Leeds Faiths Forum

Stella Perrott, Co-ordinator, Upper Wharfedale Refugee Support Group

Stuart Crosthwaite, Secretary, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group

Sue Clark, Bakewell Refugee and Asylum Seekers Network

Tanya Basharat, Chief Executive Officer, Ship Shape Health and Wellbeing

Tom Martin, Director, City of Sanctuary Sheffield

Tracey Nathan, Sheffield Hub Manager, Shelter

Veecca Smith Uka, Founder, Fresh Grassroots Rainbow Community

Vivien Dawson, Editor, Craven Refugee Support Network

Will Sutcliffe, Chair, Bradford City of Sanctuary

Yesmien Bagh Ali, Member/facilitator, Broughton Road Women’s Group





Scroll to top