Many of us in Eastbourne have been shocked by the images of suffering from all over Europe as Syrian refugees try to reach safety. The body of the dead Kurdish boy Aylan has changed the minds of many, including the Prime Minister. I was also amazed how my own letter in The Times last Thursday generated so many responses, detailing how my grandmother (an Eastbourne resident) had opened her home to a destitute Hungarian in 1956 (something the Prime Minister of Hungary seems to have forgotten). Many Eastbourne residents responded very generously back in 1956. Last week, Brighton and Hove Council made a similar request to landlords (echoing that of 1956 and when Ugandan Asians, Bosnians and others have needed our protection). If you look back into history, Eastbourne has hosted many refugees, from the French Revolution onwards (1,300 arrived in 1789 alone).
Now if my grandmother (Ada Bailey) was still alive, she would be asking: What should our response be? No one is asking Eastbourne to take in 1,300 as in 1789 but surely this town can welcome a few dozen of some of the world’s most desperate people?
The moving pictures from Vienna and Berlin showed Christians, Muslims and those of other or no religion standing together to feed hungry refugees. Where are we? Where is Eastbourne? Do we stand with Chancellor Merkel or the Prime Minister of Hungary? It seems our Prime Minister has finally made his choice (the right one), but have we?
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