Unicef UK Ambassadors Eddie Izzard, Sir Chris Hoy, Martin Bell OBE and Unicef UK High Profile Supporter Olivia Colman have each lent their support to an emotional and provocative new film putting pressure on the UK Government to change the rules that allow refugee children to reunite with their close family already living in the UK.
The 60 second film, We Are Family, sees famous faces reflecting on their role as different family members (Eddie Izzard as a brother, Olivia Colman as a sister, Sir Chris Hoy as a brother and Martin Bell OBE as a grandfather) with personal reflections on what makes their family relationships so special.
As the film draws to a close, each star comes to the same realisation that it is not the same for every family. This is because right now, refugee children are still forced to make the dangerous and often deadly journey to Europe in an attempt to reach the safety of their family in the UK. In 2017 alone, over 3,000 people died making this dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.
Olivia Colman, Unicef UK High Profile Supporter said: "Someone once defined siblings as children of the same parents who are perfectly normal until they get together. It makes me laugh to think about my own brother and sister that way.
“Our experience of growing up, and of having the same parents – so much that is funny, weird, unique and important about who we are and where we came from – is like a kind of secret code between us. Now I have the great pleasure of seeing my own children beginning to develop their secret code, a sense of belonging and security that they will always share with their brothers and sister.
“It breaks my heart to think that there are children out there – children who have already been through far too much – who are being kept separate from their brothers and sisters. Children for whom that secret sibling code might be the only thing of value that they possess, and all that they need. We must act now to reunite these children and protect their futures!”
With the system for family reunion offered under our membership of European Union likely to end, the UK Government are yet to fix the rules to help reunite refugee children with their close family in the UK, and in the coming months are set to decide on their approach to refugee rules – the only chance they have to make this simple and lifesaving change. The UK’s rules only currently give a right for children to be reunited with their parents in the UK. It is almost impossible for children to be reunited with their adult siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents, even when this is their best hope of safety.
At a time when new plans for refugee rules are due to be set by the UK Government, these famous stars, alongside Unicef UK – the world’s leading children’s organisation – are aiming to ensure that now is the time this important fix is included in law. Time is running out as children continue to flee devastating situations by foot, in the back of lorries and on flimsy dinghies in search of safety and loved ones.
Deputy Executive Director of Unicef UK, Lily Caprani, said: “Every day the Government fails to make a simple change to the rules that could help reunite refugee children with their loved ones, more children continue to risk everything in desperate attempts to reach the safety of their family. These children deserve the stability and continuity that their close family can provide. When you’ve lost your home, your family are your home. Time is running out to show the rules need to be fixed – and we’re counting not only on the support of our amazing Ambassadors and High Profile Supporters, but on the support of the UK public to help us get justice for those innocent children that need us most”.
Please join Eddie Izzard, Olivia Colman, Martin Bell and Chris Hoy by signing the petition, and helping every brother, sister and grandchild have the future they deserve: www.unicef.uk/FamiliesTogether