A night of performance, film and discussion in Corsham culminated in the signing of an open letter calling on Wiltshire Council to resettle an extra one hundred unaccompanied child refugees over the next ten years.

Wiltshire For Refugees welcomed local people, along with representatives from Corsham Town Council and Wiltshire Council, to the launch of their Our Turn Wiltshire campaign on Tuesday at the Pound Arts Centre.

The group wants to secure a pledge from Wiltshire Council that if the government provides the funding, the county will accept ten unaccompanied refugee children each year, for ten years,, as a legacy of the Kindertransport when the British Government offered refuge to children escaping Nazi Europe. The Our Turn campaign was set up the charity Safe Passage.

The evening included a performance by Kate Duffy and Syed Najibi of Phosphoros Theatre, telling Syed’s own story as an unaccompanied child refugee, and that of fellow child refugees and asylum seekers. The audience watched film shorts of child migrants by Eithne Nightingale and an audio of Imagine, written by author Michael Morpurgo, followed by the Our Turn video.

Isla Russell of WFR said: “The evening was really well attended and people were deeply moved by the plight of unaccompanied refugee children and keen to do more. The current resettlement schemes are due to end in 2020.

"We can’t just turn our backs. We need to establish new routes to safety for these children. We hope to build on the good work already done by Wiltshire Council and to encourage them to make this pledge. We are asking people to sign our open letter, join our Wiltshire For Refugees Facebook group and spread the word. ”

Coun Steve Abbott, town council chairman said: “This year marks 80 years since communities across Britain came together on the eve of World War Two to put pressure on Neville Chamberlain’s government to open its doors to child refugees escaping Nazi-occupied Europe.

"That action resulted in 10,000 children’s lives being saved in just a matter of months. I am supportive of members of the Corsham community wanting to show the same compassion to today’s child refugees as we did 80 years ago and was pleased to be able to join them at the launch of Wiltshire’s Our Turn campaign.”

Chris Reid of Corsham Sponsors Refugees, a refugee community sponsorship scheme said: “There has been so much support for sponsoring a refugee family in Corsham and I’d like to see that welcome extended by Wiltshire Council committing to helping vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children after 2020.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “Wiltshire provides a welcoming home to refugees of all ages and we have worked hard to support them so they can build new lives here and contribute to their communities.

“We were one of the first to welcome Syrian refugees three years ago and now we have more than 100 settled and contributing to their communities. Around half of these are children who have settled in schools across the county and are helping their parents with language and culture.

“We will carefully consider any new initiative to help refugee children however we are already working hard to help those children who arrive spontaneously or through specific programmes. We do consider referrals via the Dubs Scheme – these come via South West Councils who co-ordinate referrals on behalf of the 16 local authorities in the south west.

“A number of children and young people arrive spontaneously and we provide secure homes for these as well as being involved in other initiatives to support children arriving in our country. We are part of the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children National Transfer Scheme where we help other councils with large numbers of UASCs to come and live in Wiltshire.”

To add your name to the open letter to Wiltshire Council contact wilts4refugees@gmail.com.