CHANGES to asylum rules that would reunite hundreds of child refugees with their families have stalled despite MPs giving their support for a Scot's campaign six months ago.

Proposed legislation which would enable people who arrived in Britain as a child to sponsor applications for close relatives to settle with them passed its first Commons hurdle in March.

But since then the UK government has been "dragging its heels and trying to prevent the bill from progressing", according to human rights organisation Amnesty UK.

Now Amnesty has launched a competition to celebrate family life using photos from across the UK in its #FamiliesTogether campaign aimed at calling for the easing of "cruel and restrictive" UK rules and helping refugees who have lost their homes and been separated from their families to be reunited.

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The SNP's Angus MacNeil, who championed the refugee family reunion bill said it was simply the "right thing" to do.

But ministers say it could encourage people to attempt the risky journey to the UK.

The government did not give its backing to Mr MacNeil's private member's bill but it passed its second reading by 129 votes to 42 after Labour, Lib Dem and some Tory MPs spoke in favour of it, as well as the SNP.

Tom Davies, Amnesty campaign manager who is leading the #IWelcome Refugees campaign said: "Six months ago there was a fantastic victory when the refugee family reunion bill passed its second reading. It was a three-to-one defeat of the government.

"We needed 100 to guarantee it could progress and not get talked out by some of the opposition and we achieved that. "And it was a wonderful success and a wonderful day but since that point the government has been dragging its heels and trying to prevent the bill progressing."

He said not enough time is being allocated in Parliament to hear the bill.

And he said the government has dragged its heels in providing a 'money resolution' where they estimate the cost of the bill if it becomes law.

"A money resolution usually happens right after a second reading is passed, as has happened, but it is six months and they haven't done it," said Mr Davies.

"They are using a technicality to draw out the process and frustrate the Parliamentary process and yet we have seen so much cross party support for this issue.

It has stalled since March and we are trying to put pressure on the Government to try to allow it to progress and allow democracy to happen."


But he said the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has the power to make the change now without the bill reaching the statute books.

"As a parent of two children and a husband, the thought of not seeing my children is terrifying. Yet that is the reality for many refugee families living in the UK who are affected by these rules who are forcibly separated by these rules.

"Some refugees are left suicidal and in a desperate situation because of the thought of not seeing family again."

Now families across the country are being invited to share their photographs – recent and old – to create the UK’s biggest family photo album and celebrate the importance of family life. Throughout October, families across the UK are expected to contribute their snapshots. However serious, however silly.

The project is being run by Amnesty International UK who says that these moments – the first day of school, a childhood holiday, time spent together across the generations or a candid moment of love – are the kind which refugees living in the UK, separated from their closest relatives by restrictive family reunion rules, miss every day.

The UK’s Biggest Family Photo Album will be presented to the Home Secretary as a call to help the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who have been torn apart – giving them a chance to rebuild their lives and look forward to safe, happy futures together.

The family photo competition launches today (Thursday) and closes on October21. Families are being asked to send their photo to their local or regional newspaper or to visit

Virgin Experiences is offering entrants the chance to win one of 13 Family Segway Rally prizes worth £140 each at locations across the country as well as one national prize, a Tiki Lodge Family Adventure Week on the Gower Peninsula in Wales worth £950. For full T&Cs please visit:

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty UK, said: “The UK is a country that values the family in all its wonderful variety of set-ups and sizes. Although many of us take hundreds of photos of our loved ones each year, we still cherish a special handful because they remind us of the happiness that family life can bring.

“Devastatingly, for refugees who have lost everything, these photos can often be the closest connection they have to their family, which may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Current UK rules are forcing people who have fled conflict to make impossible choices: to remain in the UK but stay separated from their nearest relatives or return to a place of danger.”


#FamiliesTogether is a coalition of over 20 organisations working to secure refugee family reunion in the UK including Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Oxfam, Refugee Council and UNHCR. Visit for more details.

They are caling for 1. Child refugees in the UK to have the right to sponsor their close family so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community.

2. The definition of who qualifies as family to be expanded so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents can live in safety with their families in the UK.

3. The reintroduction of legal aid so refugees who have lost everything have the support they need to afford and navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

How to get involved

Family photos can capture wonderful moments of love and togetherness - the first day at school, a holiday snap, or a shared family meal. But for refugees separated from their families by unfair UK rules, these photos are often their most cherished possession.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid could change these rules and make a lasting difference to refugees in the UK. You have the power to make this a reality.

We’re creating the UK’s biggest collection of real family photos to show the Home Secretary that the UK believes in keeping families together. We need as many photos as possible so that he can’t ignore us - that’s where you come in!

Submit a photo of your family and we’ll add it to Amnesty’s giant album that will be displayed at Parliament in October, as well the digital version that will be found on the Amnesty website.

Please ensure you have the consent of everyone in the photo before you send it. By adding your image you're confirming that you are over 18 and that it's okay for us to pass your details to Amnesty International. Your contact details will only be used to ask you more about your entry or to let you know if you're a winner.

Your information will be held securely by Amnesty International United Kingdom Section – a limited company registered in England (01735872), and Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust - a charity registered in England & Wales (1051681) and in Scotland (SC039534).

To find out more about how Amnesty use your information, please read their faq and privacy notice. Newsquest will use your details for the purposes of administering the campaign. Our privacy notice is here. We may use your pictures in our papers in relation to the campaign.