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Open letters are gaining ground as a way for public figures to speak out about personal, cultural and political issues that they feel strongly about. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s packed a punch recently, with notable examples from the likes of Sinead O’Connor and Jennifer Aniston, to name just two. The most recent hard-hitting open letter holds the signatures of more than 200 public figures, and is addressed to PM Theresa May. The subject? Her decision to backtrack on the Dubs Amendment – a government-agreed plan to bring 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into the UK – by reducing the total number of children the UK would help by almost 95% (that’s just 350).
The letter calls the decision “truly shameful”, continuing: “the idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350
children have reached safety is completely unacceptable… The country we know and love is better than this.”
Celebrities who have put their name to the letter, alongside other public figures, politicians and human rights attorneys, include Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, Coldplay, Sir Mark Rylance, Keira Knightley and Gary Lineker, to name just a few.
And they’re not the only ones to use a public platform to speak out, or make a point about this particular matter. Plenty of the attendees at the BAFTAs wore badges with the phrase ‘Dubs Now’ printed on them and, director Ken Loach used his acceptance speech for I Daniel Blake to make his feelings about the governments treatment of the most vulnerable in society known. “It’s a brutality that extends to helping out refugee children we promised to help,” he said.
While Number 10 remains quiet, Josie Naughton, co-founder of charity Help Refugees, responded to the open letter by saying: “The outpouring of support for the continuation of the Dubs
scheme by these well-known figures and the public demonstrates that its
closure is at odds with the British values that make this country great. We ask that the Government finds a way to do more to
protect these vulnerable children fleeing war and conflict just as we
did before the Second World War.”