On Monday, Stephen chaired the thirteenth annual Faith Reception at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Sponsored by the international development charity Islamic Relief, the Reception was attended by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Titled ‘Welcoming the Stranger: Faith Fighting for Refugees’, the Reception highlighted the role of faith communities in supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and overseas.
Other speakers were Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief; Afzal Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Employment; Mousumi Saika, Partnerships and Programme Manager at Islamic Relief; and Russell Rook of the Good Faith Partnership. All talked of the desperate situation that the international humanitarian system finds itself in, and the challenges faced both by refugees themselves and by the countries which host them. Approximately 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries and much was said of the need for richer nations to take on more responsibility.
In his keynote speech, Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the scale of the challenge facing us all. 65 million people around the world are either internally displaced or refugees; more than the entire population of Britain. The Labour Leader made a plea for the problem to be approached on the basis of humanity, peace and justice and argued strongly that a Labour Government would prioritise these aims. He paid a warm tribute to Stephen’s work in bringing faith groups together in his role as Labour’s Faith Envoy.
Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: ‘The Reception was a great success. I was particularly grateful to Jeremy for his strong support, and to Islamic Relief for their sponsorship. The worldwide refugee crisis is unprecedented in scale, and faith-based organisations are playing a key role in the relief effort. In the UK, faith communities are providing grassroots help for refugees to settle and rebuild their lives, and are also pressing for fairer and more effective asylum policies. Government must listen to what they are saying, and act on it’.