THREE churches in Purbeck have written a letter to the Home Secretary expressing concern over the government’s response to refugees attempting to cross the English Channel.

The Parishes of the Purbeck Hills, which include St James’ at Kingston, St George’s at Langton Matravers and St Nicholas of Myra at Worth Matravers, said the letter “draws on the narrative of the Epiphany”.

The letter says: “As we recall this narrative we cannot but reflect on the Home Office response to the so called ‘crisis’ of small numbers of desperate people risking everything, including the lives of their families, to cross the Channel in unseaworthy boats in the hope of safety and sanctuary in the UK.”

It continues: “Those making these perilous and desperate journeys deserve a humanitarian response. We call on you as Home Secretary to demonstrate this in your words and actions in the coming days and weeks. Please do not inadvertently give succour to xenophobic prejudice by perpetrating a ‘hostile environment’ towards desperate people in need of kindness and hospitality.”

James Mercer, the parish priest serving the Purbeck Hills Parishes, said: “The Christian Gospel embraces a deeply subversive political philosophy that speaks truth to power and challenges injustice and champions the cause of the oppressed.

“It is right and proper that the churches reflect this in their words and deeds and challenge the Home Office’s apparent callous disregard for the dignity and humanity of the unfortunate individuals and families risking everything in the search for safety and security. A generous, compassionate and creative response is required in meeting the needs of asylum seekers who have suffered so much.”