Bishop of Bedford signs open letter of concern over asylum seeker accommodation at Yarl’s Wood

The Bishop of Bedford Richard Atkinson

The Bishop of Bedford is among more than 70 people of faith, community representatives and concerned citizens who have written an open letter to the Home Office expressing concern about the proposal to temporarily accommodate 200 asylum seekers at any one time, in new prefab-style buildings at Yarl’s Wood.

The group, which represent communities throughout the UK, seek assurance from the government that the wellbeing, both physical and mental, and human dignity of the proposed residents will be at the forefront of the decision-making process.

It has been signed by many of Bedford’s faith leaders as well as members of the Bedford Council of Faiths.

The letter from the community representatives asks:

  • if other more suitable options have been exhausted, including hotel accommodation or other options closer to an urban centre such as Bedford or Luton?
  • has a full social and environmental risk assessments have been carried out
  • have local organisations been given adequate access to offer support in a COVID secure manner?
  • will residents have adequate access to local institutions which can support their wellbeing, including places of worship?
  • has the process of developing this site has been conducted in a transparent manner with the full support of the local authorities?

It follows legal action against the Home Office from Bedford resident, Rosie Newbigging, over similar concerns around the suitability of the accommodation.

Read: Home Office faces legal action over ‘immoral’ and ‘unlawful’ plans at Yarl’s Wood

The Reverend Luke Larner, from Red Letter Christians UK in Bedford said: “We would like a better alternative that is beneficial for the wellbeing of these people.”

The group believe that many of the intended residents at Yarl’s Wood will have experienced significant difficulties and trauma prior to their arrival.

“They are not criminals and will need the compassion, welcome and support that all human beings, with inherent worth and dignity, deserve.”

The letter has been signed by the following:
Rehana Faisal, Lantern
The Rev’d Luke Larner, Red Letter Christians UK
Faisal Hussain, Luton Sunni Council of Mosques
Imam Muhammad Rayhan, Luton Council of Mosques
Sufian Sadiq, Discover Islam
Tony Thompson, Hope Church Luton
Peter Adams, St Marys Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
Lucie Shuker, City Life Church Luton
Attiq Malik, Lawyer & Human Rights Activist, Liberty Law Solicitors
Henry Cross, Rock And Redeemer Vineyard Church
The Rev’d Tony Rindl, St. Mary’s Watford, Three Rivers Refugee Partnership
Dr Fatima Rajina, Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
Revd Cassandra Howes, Bedford Council of Faiths
T Kalyan, Bhagwan Valmik Temple Bedford
Rev’d Peter R. Kay, Benefice of Milton Ernest, Pavenham & Thurleigh
Jane Godley TSSF, The Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis, Bedford Group
The Revd Canon Kevin Goss, St Pauls Church, Bedford, and Member of the General Synod of the Church of England
Rev. Andrew Hollins, North Bedfordshire Methodist Circuit / Churches Together Bedfordshire
Marc James, Three Rivers Church Bedford
Dr. Virendra Soni, Bedford Council of Faiths
Rev. Marcus Ottaviani, St Mary’s Goldington
Taj Ali, Freelance Journalist
Sanjeev Kumar, Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat Luton
Rajiv Sidhu
Zafar Khan, Luton Council of Faiths
Gulie Butcher, Luton Council of Faiths
David Jonathon, Luton Council of Faiths
Ramnik Gohil, Luton Council of Faiths
Kishore Kaler, Luton Council of Faiths
Ryad Khodabocus, Luton Council of Faiths
Ray Gaston, Church of St Chad and St Mark
The Rev’d Ray Gaston, Church of St Chad and St Mark, Parish of Central Wolverhampton
Revd Robb Sutherland, Vicar
Naomi Bennett, Red Letter Christians UK
Charlotte Gibson, The Women’s Theology Network
Mostaque Koyes, Community Interest luton
Caroline Weaver, Ther Methodist Church
Peter Gerrish, Bedford Council Of Faiths
Revd Caroline Weaver, North Bedford Methodist Circuit
Danielle Wilson, Red Letter Christians UK & Inclusive Gathering Birmingham
Jennifer Shirley Taylor
Wendi Momen Northill Baha’is, Bedfordshire
Debbie Clark
Ali wilson
Michael Kane
Church of the Nazarene / Nazarene Theological College
Susan Lennon
Revd. Sophie Cowan
J Huntley
Tim Ferguson
Sujel Miah, Bangladesh Youth League
Melissa Llewellyn, The Courtney Foundation
Charlotte Gibson, The Women’s Theology Network
The Rev’d Jarel Robinson-Brown, King’s College London
Rev. Ian Rutherford, Methodist Central Hall, Manchester
Mostaque Koyes, Community Interest luton
Jack Belloli, Ripon College Cuddesdon / Diocese of Ely
Rev. Jon Price
Revd David Butterworth, Methodist Church – Birmingham
Shana Iqbal, Lantern
Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, OBE, Bishop of Bedford
Andrew Axon, Vicar of Lamberhurst & Matfield
Shelly Dennison, Putnoe Heights Methodist Church
Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, Bishop of Lichfield
Revd Dr Al Barrett, Church of England – Birmingham
Angela Brydon, Beds, Essex & Herts Methodist District
Tony Reese
Lynne Gound, Priory Methodist Church Bedford
Margaret Pritchard Houston, Diocese of St Albans
Jaimee Summers, Church of England
Andrew Axon, Vicar of Lamberhurst & Matfield
Rev’d Morna Simpson, Benefice of Yardley Hastings
Dr. Joel Brown, Medical Doctor
Revd Fr David Green, Church of England
Roger Chisnall, Just Community (St Albans)
Fr. Paul Davies, Anglican Church of All Saints Queens Park Bedford

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