Bishop laments attitude to asylum seekers
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has expressed dismay at the lack of support for people seeking asylum in the UK.
Bishop John Packer called for greater levels of care and respect for people seeking sanctuary and help in the UK after fleeing from their own countries in terror.
The bishop was speaking at the launch of a report from a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into Asylum Support for Children and Young People.
He noted that an increasing proportion of asylum seekers in the UK were fleeing from religious persecution and blasphemy laws.
The report was supported by The Children's Society and found that families seeking asylum in the UK were being forced into severe poverty.
It warned that thousands of children were being affected and that the lives of mothers and babies were even being put at risk.
The report urged the Government to abolish the cashless support system immediately and allow parents to work in order to care for their families.
It also recommended bringing support for asylum seekers with children into line with mainstream benefits.
"Those seeking asylum in our country are coming here because they are scared. I was frankly shocked at the some of the stories we picked up in our report with witnesses telling us how officials would just let themselves into asylum seekers accommodation," he said.
"On one occasion a child was downstairs in his home and was absolutely petrified."
Bishop Packer called on churches to take a lead in raising awareness of the destitution affecting asylum seekers.