‘We get knocked down, but we get up again’, says the refugee sector this World Refugee Day

20 June 2024, 14:03

‘We get knocked down, but we get up again’, says the refugee sector this World Refugee Day
‘We get knocked down, but we get up again’, says the refugee sector this World Refugee Day. Picture: LBC
  • Dr Wanda Wyporska is the CEO of Safe Passage International
Dr  Wanda Wyporska

By Dr  Wanda Wyporska

Today isn’t only about England playing in the Euros, it’s also World Refugee Day, and it seems right for these two parts of my life to meet at this moment. Both can highlight integrity, community, equity and fair play.

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I’ve always loved how football has the power to bridge divides and bring people together. It is also a rollercoaster of ups and down - wins and losses - and football fans know the feeling of brushing themselves off and getting up again to face the next game,  in solidarity and support for their team.

That’s why I’m proud to have joined Together With Refugees’ ‘Team Fair Begins Here’ today, along with those of us who work with refugees, people who have been through the asylum system here themselves and celebrity supporters to call for a reset of the asylum system, which includes dignity.

As the daughter of the Windrush generation and the granddaughter of a Polish refugee, I’m honoured to be part of this team – standing together to call for fairness and integrity. These values are lacking in the UK’s broken asylum, which has become increasingly cruel, chaotic and costly. 

These policies aren’t working for anyone - refugees or local communities.  Yet we know people across the UK go the extra mile to welcome refugees – opening their homes, volunteering, speaking up and donating. And refugees want to build new lives here, contribute to the economy as friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Team Fair Begins Here has come together to say we've had enough of the current mess - we demand a better way. We want the next Government to commit to a fair new plan for refugees that:

  • Ensures protection for people fleeing war and persecution by upholding the UK’s commitment under international law to the right to claim asylum and by scrapping the Rwanda scheme.
  • Provides a proper strategy for welcoming refugees by ensuring fair, rapid decisions on their application for asylum, and the chance to rebuild their lives through settling in a community, being allowed to work and the opportunity to learn English.
  • Forges stronger global cooperation to tackle the root causes that force people to flee their homes and provides positive solutions when they do, including safe routes to prevent more loss of life on dangerous journeys to safety.

I’m glad to be standing in this team with other sector leaders from Choose Love, Refugee Council, Refugee Action and many more. 

I’m proud to stand with refugee leaders including TV personality Big Zuu who grew up in the asylum system after his mother had to flee Sierra Leone, as well as celebrities like Succession actor Brian Cox, Hayley Attwell, Joanna Lumley, Juliet Stevenson and Martins Imhangbe.

Some of us are getting together for a kickabout outside the Houses of Parliament today and to sing along to football classic ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba - the one that goes ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’. 

It seems an appropriate anthem for refugee issues, as well as football because we have been knocked down many times over the last few years. This World Refugee Day, we get up again - and continue to call for something better, something compassionate and, of course, something fair.