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UK's 'hostile environment' for asylum seekers highlighted in new JPIT nativity film

A modern retelling of the nativity story which highlights some of the challenges facing asylum seekers in the UK has been released by the Joint Public Issues Team 

JPIT Nativity film

The film, A Very British Nativity, primarily focuses on a young Mary and Joseph’s efforts to find somewhere safe to stay in the UK.

It includes a cameo from the wise men who have ditched their trusty camels in favour of Micro Scooters. However, their mission to deliver gifts is quickly scuppered by an Immigration Enforcement Officer, who is concerned by the group’s unspecified travel plans…

The film was produced by a coalition of four Church denominations in the UK: the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

Since it first aired in early December it has been viewed around 160,000 times across various social media.

Director of the film and policy adviser for the Churches, Grace Pengelly said, 'Our Churches are very concerned about the degrading treatment and challenges faced by asylum seekers in the UK.

'It is sometimes all too easy to forget that many seeking asylum have already experienced a great deal of trauma.

'Rather than providing the standard of care that we would wish for ourselves, many aspects of the UK’s asylum system appear to add to the suffering already endured by those seeking refuge.

'Our hope is that in seeing this film people will be more aware of how hard this Christmas will be for some of the poorest members of our society.'

Martha, aged eight, who attends a Methodist Church and played Mary in the film, said, 'Mary must have felt tired because she did so much walking with her suitcase and her baby.

'She would have been sad because she couldn’t find a home and worried about her baby. I think people should watch this film. We all need to help people who have left their home because something bad has happened.'

A Very British Nativity launched the day after the release of the Government’s quarterly migration statistics, which show that in September 37,958 asylum seekers received support from the Government’s National Asylum Support Service, which means they qualify for accommodation and/or financial support of less than £6 per day.

The report also reveals that so far in 2016, 45 per cent of appeals made by asylum seekers were allowed. JPIT said this indicated that the system currently in place is struggling to adequately assess the needs of asylum seekers.

Download A Very British Nativity from Vimeo here.

Baptist Times, 05/12/2016
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