Housing asylum seekers in Dunstable – a statement
21st February 2023
A statement following a public meeting about housing asylum seekers in Dunstable
We are aware of intense online interest over a public meeting held last week in Dunstable by the Member of Parliament for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous, regarding the closure of a local hotel and the housing of asylum seekers in it. Several weeks ago, Dunstable Priory agreed to provide space for this meeting as the largest venue in the area, and hosted the livestream of the meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to hear what local residents had to say, address their concerns, and discuss what help the local community could offer to the asylum seekers – all in an open and transparent manner. Many members of the public took the opportunity to speak at the meeting, expressing views from a variety of perspectives. The meeting was chaired by the Mayor of Dunstable.
Far-right nationalists took the opportunity in the days before the meeting to distribute leaflets to stir up resentment toward the people staying in the hotel, through the use of distorted statistics and claims without evidence. When such views were raised at the meeting, they were robustly challenged.
Following the meeting, an edited video of part of the meeting has been circulated on social media. This video does not accurately reflect the overall nature of the meeting; the video of the whole meeting can be viewed unedited on YouTube.
We strongly and unreservedly condemn the use of language to dehumanise people seeking asylum. The Church of England remains committed to the welfare of the whole community, and the Parish of Dunstable continues to work to support growing numbers of asylum seekers in the town.
The Diocese of St Albans and the Parish of Dunstable
A public meeting was organised by the local MP in one of our churches in Dunstable last week. There’s been a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions about it. Here's what happened: https://t.co/0wLptdV1gP
— The Diocese of St Albans (@diostalbans) February 22, 2023