Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Community Spirit - April 2014

Now the sun has started to shine, it’s easy to feel a little more optimistic.  Spring is a wonderful time.

Viewers of my Facebook page will know that my garden is beginning to show a touch of colour after a dreary winter, in which people across the country, though not in Newham, thankfully, have seen their lives turned upside down by storms and floods.  My thoughts are with them, as they struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives.

In those communities, there has been a coming together to provide support and help for family, friends and neighbours who need it most, usually from people who have had their own lives disrupted.  It’s the kind of thing we see in Newham every day.  Even in these hard times people are generous to one another, often when they, themselves, don’t have much.

Only last week as I queued at the supermarket I was heartened to see the number of people who, on their way out, joined me in dropping items into the food bank collection.

Compassion and generosity are two of the defining characteristics of our society, something I was reminded of this month when, in the matter of a few days, 175,000 people signed up to the campaign to stop the deportation of young student Yashoki Bageerathi, to Mauritius.  Campaigners wanted to give her a chance to take her A levels.

Ignoring the pleas of the compassionate, Yashoki Bageerathi was forcibly removed.  This Government did not listen to those who signed the petition and would not make an exception.  There are more than 13,000 forced removals a year, some from Newham.  Young men and women, some younger than Yashoki, are forcibly deported to unsafe countries like Afghanistan, where they are at risk.

Even George Osborne’s father-in-law says that tough immigration policies have made Britain ‘nasty,’ representing a ‘blot’ on the UK’s reputation.  I fully agree.  We, as a nation, are better than this, we really are.

What a pity this Tory Coalition can’t raise itself to the standards of tolerance and empathy set by the country as a whole.

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