It’s not the turkey, not the presents and it’s not the Christmas films; it turns out that the true meaning of Christmas for most is family.
A new survey published today reveals that over two thirds of people in Wales believe that seeing their family is the most important part of Christmas.
Oxfam commissioned the poll of 2,000 adults in the UK in conjunction with its campaign to change current Home Office family reunification rules.
Current immigration rules mean that a child refugee who arrives in the UK alone cannot bring an adult relative here to support them. As a result many children who have fled violence and arrived in the UK unaccompanied will not spend Christmas with their families this year. This includes approximately 27 unaccompanied children that have arrived in Wales to date.
Seventy per cent of people in Wales were not aware that unaccompanied children who have fled violence in another country to live in the UK are not allowed to bring a parent or other close relative here to look after them.
Half the people polled in Wales wished they were able to spend more time with their family, with 32 per cent relying on them for a sense of belonging and one third needing them for emotional support.
A fifth of adults like close contact with their family for a sense of stability, 51 per cent just want their company, and 23 per cent rely on them for life advice.
Kirsty Davies-Warner, Head of Oxfam Cymru said: “Most adults still rely on their families in some way and do not take them for granted.
“Unfortunately, our restrictive rules mean that refugees are not afforded the same liberties and often don’t get the choice about which close family members they can see – and this is something we are working to change.
“Imagine if your loved ones were trapped in a country where they were cheating death every day. Refugees living in the UK would give anything to see their family members again but our unfair rules are forcing them apart. “
The UK and Denmark are the only countries in the EU that do not allow children who have travelled alone and then been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection to bring their very closest family members to join them.
In June, Oxfam calculated that by the time that Brexit happens in March 2019 6,500 families could be forced to live apart due to family reunion rules.
Oxfam is calling on the UK Government to stand as one with people forced to flee disaster and conflict, and to help make sure they get the help they desperately need to rebuild their lives. One simple way the UK Government can help is to make it easier for refugees to reunite with relatives who are already in the UK.
Notes to editor
Oxfam’s Family Visits Poll was conducted via OnePoll.Com. Oxfam commissioned the poll of 2,000 adults (102 from Wales) in conjunction with its campaign to change current Home Office rules which forbid child refugees who arrive in the UK alone from bringing a relative here and restrict adult refugees in the UK to be reunited only with their spouse or children under the age of 18.
The National Assembly for Wales’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee report ‘Refugees and asylum seekers in Wales’ published in April 2017 states that ‘there were around 27 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children in Wales’.