Child Migration to the UK: Hopes and Realities

In this extract from ‘Fortress Britain?’ Pia Jolliffe and Samuel Burke draw attention to child migrants’ vulnerability and ask for the impact of the Amendment 115 to Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. 

‘I was 12 when my mother paid people smugglers $8,000 to take my brother and me from Afghanistan to Europe. After my father and grandfather were killed by US armed forces the Taliban put pressure on us to become suicide bombers. Drastic as it was, sending us away was the only option my mother could see to keep us alive. I then began a 12-month odyssey across Europe. I was separated from my brother almost immediately and incarcerated three times. I jumped from a speeding train in Bulgaria, nearly breaking both my legs, and almost drowned in a tiny overcrowded boat off the coast of Greece. When I arrived in the UK, I was still only 13, but almost unrecognisable from the child I had been. That’s what hunger, cruelty and brutality does to you.’

In his book The Lightless Sky Gulwali Passaray describes the painful process of age-assessment upon his arrival in the UK. Although he was only 13 years old, Kent Social Services concluded that he was 16 and a half years of age because of his mature appearance and clever answers to their interview questions. As a result of the incorrect birth date he had been given, he was only given discretionary leave to remain in the UK for one year. At the age of 17 he was expected to leave the country or to be deported. Because the Home Office insisted on him being 16 years old, he had to share accommodation with adults instead of with children. Unable to accept this injustice, Gulwali made every effort to prove his real age and eventually – with the help of the educational institution Starting Point – managed to have his age re-assessed and his real birthday recognized.

In conversation with Pia Jolliffe, Gulwali reiterates that the age-assessment has huge consequences for child migrants’ lives. Those who are considered above 18 years are deprived of all sorts of opportunities like education and foster families. They are either kept in detention, deported or decide to go underground.

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Morality, Demons and Beasts

In this extract from ‘The Interbrain,’ Digby Tantam considers the implications of the interbrain for religion, morality and our ability to demonize other humans. 

For a very long time, human beings have explained harm coming to one person or to groups by attributing this to demons. Demonic possession is possibly the oldest explanation of psychopathology and is still widely held in Africa and other parts of the world.

Demonization of offenders increases the public’s desire to punish them retributively is most likely because of common knowledge, which seems to be widespread, that demons exist, that they are evil, and that evil is contagious. So humans cannot, and indeed should not without imperilling their own morals, consort or connect with demons. Demons must be cast out of individuals, as the Bible has Jesus casting out the demons, and of society. Psychiatrists and psychologists have updated this demonology by postulating that types of people exist who cannot empathize and consequently act in a deranged or demonic fashion. There is also the presumption,
as there often is when a person is said to lack empathy, that it is equally impossible to empathize with them.

Demonization is, for obvious reasons, a strategy that is particularly attractive to religious groups…

Follow this link to continue reading this exclusive extract.

For more information on The Interbrain, or to buy a copy of the book, click here. 

‘This is Pilates for the soul’ – Claire Foster-Gilbert talks to us about morality in public life

One year after Brexit, a stellar cast of eminent contributors from of politics, public service and religion explore why now more than ever, public servants must consider and reassess how to keep moral courage in public life alive in this new book of essays – ‘The Moral Heart of Public Service.’ Here, she talks to us about her motivations for writing the book.  

What first motivated you to collate these essays on morality in public life?

Westminster Abbey Institute, of which I am founder-director, was established by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster to revitalise morality in public life.  We offer twice yearly programmes of lectures to this end.  We have been able to invite some really stellar speakers and to work hard ourselves to produce thoughtful and high quality lectures.  I wanted to turn those lectures into essays and produce them in a form that would last.  The Institute is meant to offer timely wisdom that is also timeless, so the book form is a good one for us.  The test is whether the essays are still relevant in ten, twenty, even fifty years’ time.

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What’s the difference between a public service organisation and a sailing boat?

In this exclusive extract from ‘The Moral Heart of Public Service,’ Claire Foster-Gilbert of the Westminster Abbey Institute explores why we so often think that members of the public service lack moral integrity, and explains how public service companies, like the police, the military and government, can be imagined as a sailing boat.

Click here to read the extract.

‘We live in an age when noisy moralism is everywhere, and the news and social media have invaded the pulpit. Quiet reflection on moral truth, however, and the noble sobriety of public administration, have become under-valued virtues. All power to a book like this in redressing that imbalance.’
– Matthew Parris, Times columnist and author

For more information and to buy this book, please click here.

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