My father, Nicholas Winton, witnessed the appalling conditions children were enduring in the refugee camps in Czechoslovakia in 1939 and determined to give them the chance of a better, safer life by bringing them to Britain. Those who have travelled across Europe to Calais, to escape the life-threatening dangers of their home country, are hoping desperately to find the sanctuary their parents dared to believe Britain would once again offer.
The Government has been condemned for closing down a scheme to accept lone refugee children marooned in Europe after allowing
It was with great upset that I watched the debate and votes in the House of Commons on Monday night, where MPs defeated an amendment to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into Britain. Like so many people in this country - of all ages, faiths and political affiliations - I was left sad and stunned.
We have a proud history in the UK of helping refugees escaping from appalling horrors, particularly children. Had we not given safe haven via the Kindertransport programme to thousands of Jewish children in the run up to the Second World War, most would have died in the Holocaust. We took in refugees from Iran and Vietnam, and those fleeing Idi Amin in Uganda. We did the right thing, and I believe we must do so again.
The UK has led the way in aid to the Syria region, and the government recently took the very welcome step of offering to take in 20,000 refugees living in camps in the Middle East. But we know that Britain can also reach out a hand to some of those who have already made the dangerous journey to Europe, those at-risk children who are on their own this winter. Like those dark days in 1938, children are leaving their homes today without their families because they fear for their lives. Britain can live up to the best of our history by offering them a better future.
This Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport, a rescue mission that helped save nearly 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany bringing them to the safety of Britain before the outbreak of WWII... I would like to take the opportunity to commemorate the people whose experiences still inspire the work we do today, helping communities around the world in need survive and revitalise with dignity and pride.