I was listening to a radio phone in on Vanessa Feltz's BBC London show, Karen from South London called in, she was very angry and said "We should not let them in Vanessa, we are full up. My family have been on a housing waiting list for over 10 years". I began shouting at my radio yelling "No silly woman you have got this all wrong". I was angry with Karen. She had let the side down, wasn't prepared to consider helping those refuges in need. All she was concerned about was ensuring her family could be given attention and priority on the housing list.
I am British, my family origins are Ghanaian. My family came over to this country as immigrants and have fully contributed to the community. They are British like everyone else. So the debate on taking more people is relevant and needs to be addressed. It's irrelevant whether the Syrian refugees are Christian or Muslim. They are not going to take over London and start forming ISIS help centres or recruit friends and family members to bomb our streets. Unfortunately that's the general perception cynics have about immigration and refugees from the middle east and elsewhere.
Have we lost some of our Britishness? Don't we care about people in need anymore? Yes we have to a certain degree. The response to the crisis on the whole has been positive but I think we have lost our Britishness in a major way. For the working class Man or Woman, mass hysteria, paranoia over immigration, UKIP, Eastern Europeans, people taking our jobs has formed a right wing stance to deflect any consideration over helping our Syrian neighbours. First and foremost we shouldn't even question our role in helping or at least contributing to ease the pain and suffering endured by the refugees. A Mother and her child lying on a railway track begging for freedom, people crammed on to trains not knowing where they will end up fearing the worst. Yet the cynics amongst us seem to be more concerned about housing waiting lists, downloading the latest phone apps and whether Eastenders will be aired on time.
A minority of disgruntled mainly rebellious working class, some of which ironically are immigrants themselves, who are against the government and society are the ones who seem to be against helping the refugees. To say well we haven't been helped so let's them suffer and go to hell. Our health services, police cuts, unemployment may be on the rise but our economy and welfare system is not on the verge of collapsing so we can still help. It's disgraceful and embarrassing for these people to moan. They are not in dire need. It mocks what we are all about as a positive and helpful nation. It shouldn't be focused towards a class, race or group of people. But those ignorant and unhelpful cynics have made that very clear.
Growing up on a council estate in Kentish Town, North West London was the best thing that ever happened to me. There were a diverse range of families in my block from all corners of the world from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Spain and beyond. Some families came to England searching for a better life. That experience enabled me to appreciate what integration and living in a diverse society is all about. That is what makes Britain unique. If we take that away we will become a gentrified nation. Even the sad and shocking image of a young child on the beach does not capture the heart of soul of those scared and unwilling to help. It certainly made me think about who we are and what we do. It captured our attention yet those cynics are not convinced to open our boarders to refugees. Have they lost their minds? We have to remember those refugees are human beings like us, not cattle. They need our help, they have no homes, food, shelter. Regardless of religious or atheist beliefs - we have to help them it's a mandatory cause that should not even be questioned. Let's do the right thing.