“You have shown such bravery in leaving your homeland and all you know to come to the UK. Please know that you have my support and respect. I do hope you receive all you need to make a fulfilling life here with friends and family – and that I may be included in that number. You will never be alone.” Julie’s message of support

“Hello! I came to Oxford 83 years ago, a refugee from Nazi Germany- quite as terrible as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, etc. today. Here’s wishing you peace and prosperity in Oxford.” Irene’s message of support

On Valentine’s Day 2022, Asylum Welcome launched their Have Heart, Take Heart exhibition in Central Oxford. The exhibition can be visited at the Community Works (21 Park End St) and displays Oxford locals’ handwritten messages of solidarity towards asylum seekers. Through these messages of welcome, residents of Oxfordshire say ‘not in our name’ to the government’s plans to raise the drawbridge on asylum seekers arriving in the UK.

Have Heart, Take Heart is part of the national campaign organised by Together With Refugees, a coalition of over 300 organisations across the UK who have joined forces to oppose the government’s dangerous plans to withdraw support from some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Unless MPs take immediate action, those who arrive in the UK through unsafe routes will no longer be entitled to full refugee status, they will have no right to family reunification, and they may be removed to reception centres in Rwanda.

The 300 messages of welcome and support from people of all ages and backgrounds which make up Have Heart, Take Heart say that this is not what we want. Have Heart, Take Heart sends a powerful message that we refuse to turn our backs on refugees. Rather, we ask the government to introduce new safe and legal routes for persecuted people to come to the UK.

The orange heart is symbolic of compassion for those who have been persecuted and displaced from their country. It takes its colour from the Refugee Nation Flag designed by Syrian refugee, Yara Said, prior to the 2016 Olympic Games. Inspired by the colour of the life-vests commonly worn by refugees on their journeys, Yara Said redefined the colour previously associated with fear and hardship to one of solidarity and empathy.

It is not too late to write your own message of solidarity to show refugees and asylum seekers that they are not alone, and that the Borders Bill is not being passed in your name.

By Sarah Akande, Magdalen College School