AP Photo

In 1937 Britain welcomed 4,000 refugee children fleeing the Spanish civil war.

A few years later Britain had given shelter to 70,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.

In 1956 When Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary we took 20,000 people, 10% of the total.

in 1972 When Idi Amin threatened 60,000 Asian Ugandans with death we welcomed 25,000 of them.

In the 90's 20,000 refugees displaced by the conflict in the Balkans found safety in Britain.

Today, millions flee bombs and chemical weapons in Syria, unleashed by their own government. How many refugees have we accepted so far?


Two hundred and sixteen.

The photo of the boy on the beach has galvanised public opinion. David Cameron now seems to be listening, but the fact is Britain has been lagging behind for far too long. 

It is really important to distinguish that these aren't economic migrants, they have left their country so they won't die, not to find a better paying job or claim benefits. How desperate does a parent have to be to risk their child drowning and being washed up on a beach?

To add insult to injury Germany has already accepted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, with the number predicted to between 800,000 and a million.

Thousands of ordinary Germans have volunteered to help the refugees now arriving daily. Some have filled up their cars with shopping, and distributed clothes, nappies, food and cuddly bears. Others have offered German lessons, translation and babysitting. one MP has housed two refugees from Eritrea. They are now living with him temporarily at his home in Brandenburg.

In particular, women have offered to help – 70% of those offering services to refugees are female, according to a recent survey. The response has sometimes been overwhelming. A Berlin-based group, Refugees Welcome, which matches refugees with people willing to give them a room, has been flooded with offers. More than 780 Germans have signed up. On Tuesday police at Munich station tweeted the public to stop bringing donations, saying that they had been inundated.

I am humbled, and impressed with the response from the leaders, institutions and citizens of Germany. When I consider my country's efforts thus far in comparison it brings burning shame and wet eyes.

No one is saying we should take in a million Syrians, but I am saying that in this great, rich, compassionate country we must now do a lot, lot better than 216. How sad that it took a tragic image to convince our government.

Now that Cameron has announced the UK will take in 'thousands', let's not become apathetic again. One of the best things you can do will take around 2 minutes or less. Click here. Enter your postcode and you can send a message directly to your MP. Let's keep the pressure on our government to help as many as possible. 

It will make a difference, because so few people actually contact their MP, each message is seen to reflect the view of hundreds or thousands, depending on the issue.

It is also important to do now, as in a few days the Home secretary is attending a hugely important forum where Britain's quota of refugees will be raised. If your MP is a conservative, their voice to the Home Secretary will be listened to even more.

If you want to give towards easing this crisis, Tearfund are working with refugees in Europe and the Middle East. You can text 'TEARFUND REFUGEE' to 70444 to donate £5.

NB. I'm sure many people will object to pictures of dead children on this and other posts. I've thought long and hard about whether or not to include certain images. Ultimately my conclusion was that I object to dead children more than I object to images of dead children. If you think differently I recommend a long hard look in the mirror.

Click here to request a free copy of Premier Christianity