Our CEO Sabir Zazai responds to the Home Secretary’s conference speech last week.

You may not want a lecture from the ‘North London liberal elites,’ but I write to you as a fairly New Scot and a former refugee.

The UK has proud tradition of welcoming people from across the world including your own family. You may get a cheap round of applause at a party Conference to your racial gatekeeping mantra but the majority of us are proud of our longstanding tradition of reaching out to strangers.

Let me remind you that after the Second World War, it was people from black and ethnic minorities who came to the UK. They set up their corner shops and worked in our industries. Today, their second generation is our lawyers, accounts, teachers, Mayors, Chancellor and, somehow, a Home Secretary, who would have denied them a right to build their lives in the UK.

We are on a shared journey. Those arriving here fleeing conflict and human rights violation have enriched the UK and this journey continues for the people who arrive today. The very people who are fleeing dreadful wars and are in need of our sanctuary and protection.

People of migrant backgrounds could be nurses who could look after your family in hospital, drive you home from work in a bus, taking you out at night in a taxi.

They might be working on your house as electricians or bricklayers.

They are ordinary people with skills and talents who all want to make a contribution to UK society.

As a former refugee myself, I know that people are coming here with skills, passion and hope to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

And this is so important for the UK’s global image. This is the nation of sanctuary and one that has always extended a hand of friendship to those who need our help and it’s time for conscience and compassion to wake up, because it’s in difficult times that humanity is tested – when you can help people who are struggling, and share what you have with them.

This is Great Britain and we are Great because we embrace other cultures, we help those in need and we have a long history of integration.

Sabir Zazai

Chris Pettigrew
Author: Chris Pettigrew