COMMUNITY leaders have hit back at a campaign calling for an end to refugees being housed in a Standish hotel.
Head teachers, charity and religious leaders have joined Lisa Nandy MP in signing a statement to promote a positive message regarding asylum seekers in Wigan.
The leaders have come together in response to a petition which was launched by Standish resident Ian Adamczyk in November, calling for the practice of what he calls “economic migrants” being housed in the Britannia Hotel to be stopped.
He said at the time he was spurred to start the petition after hearing stories on residents being intimidated, schoolchildren being filmed and houses and a church being broken into.
The petition received some support from residents while others feared that the petition, and the stories that prompted it, were racially motivated.
An investigation by the Wigan Observer also found that some of the rumours being spread by the campaigners were untrue or had been exaggerated, such as pupils being filmed at Standish High School and migrants breaking into the Methodist church.
The message signed by the leaders reads: “We stand together with the men, women and children who have fled war and conflict to safely arrive in our community.
“We offer them our warmest compassion and friendship at a time when they need it the most.”
Fr John Hindley from St Marie’s Our Lady of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church said: “It is very encouraging to see a positive message about asylum seekers coming from the community.
“It is important to remember that asylum seekers are fleeing the kind of carnage that took so many lives in Paris recently and we have a humanitarian duty to protect people in their time of need.”
Who has signed the statement?
The signatories are:
Reverend Ian Hamilton, Standish Methodist Church
The Reverend Canon Andrew Holliday, Rector of Standish St Wilfrid’s Church
Father John Hindley, St Marie’s Our Lady of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church
Rachel Sheehan, curate at Wigan Parish Church
Mr Adrian Hardy, chair of Governors at Standish High School and Wood Fold Primary School
Rebecca Hough, head teacher at Wood Fold Primary School
Andrew Pollard, head teacher at Standish High School
Andrew Marflow, a Standish resident
Lisa Nandy MP
Victoria Perry, president of Wigan Trades Council
Dr Alex Turnbull, a retired GP
Ann Fairhurst from Fur Clemt
Trish Green, chief executive of The Brick
Catherine Foxon, chair of Support for Wigan Arrivals Project (SWAP)