Amy Selman is a former Immigration Adviser to the Conservative Party, and now works as an Adviser to the Mayor of London.
Last week we launched the Project Maya 2015 project – a social action visit to help communities in Sicily who are struggling to cope with the influx of migrants crossing from Libya.
Led by Baroness Warsi and Daniel Hannan MEP, Conservative MPs and their colleagues in the AECR from across Europe, Project Maya will work with local charities in Grammichele, Catania and Siracusa to improve the quality of life for underage migrants and their hosts.
The numbers are stark: last weekend over 1,100 migrants disembarked from official boats. A single landing at Messina on Tuesday saw 480 arrivals, sadly with 14 corpses also coming ashore.
Imagine the coastal towns of England receiving these boats – and the strain it puts on not only the state but the voluntary sector in these places.
There are many policy reasons for the vast increase in numbers this summer, which the UK Government is working hard to solve. In the meantime however, our neighbours in Sicily need help to provide basic care and assistance.
A large number of unaccompanied minors, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, arrive in Sicily without the Italian language, education or money.
Many of these children and teenagers have had harrowing experiences trying to get to Europe, walking for days and weeks across Africa and the Middle East, losing their families, and in many cases being exploited by people traffickers.
Boys such as Essa, from the Gambia, who has been living in a charity hostel, supported by the Italian state, since he arrived 16 months ago.
Now 17, he is adjusting well and going to school. But he needs a chance to integrate, to create a life and future in the local community and get a job.
This year’s Project Maya will provide a safe atmosphere for these boys, a chance to live independently and develop key skills.
Another group will help a community which has accommodated a sudden influx of migrant children in its primary school by building a playground and outdoor space – using sport as the great bridge for integration.
Under David Cameron, the Conservative Party’s social action projects have been an important part of our outreach to new groups. From Bangladesh to Bosnia to Syrian refuges in Turkey, we have raised awareness and funds to help those in need, and improved the conditions they are living in.
Our politicians and staff raise the money ourselves, and ensure it is spent and targeted in the most useful way. Compassionate Conservatism means we must help the individuals as well as solve the policy problems.
If you would like to support and/or join Project Maya Catania 2015, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org