Sarah Teather to be JRS advocacy adviser

Sarah Teather MP is to join the International Advocacy team of the Jesuit Refugee Service. From 1 June 2015, she will become JRS’s advocacy adviser, focussing on the provision of education for refugee children in the Middle East and South Sudan.

For nearly 12 years, Sarah Teather has represented the London constituency of Brent Central, the most ethnically diverse in the United Kingdom; she will stand down as a Member of Parliament in May. In addition to her time as an MP, Ms Teather has had a consistent record of working on social justice issues and was previously a policy analyst for Macmillan Cancer Support. During her two and a half years as Minister for Children and Families, she negotiated the end of the detention of children in the immigration system; led efforts to combat sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood; led reforms to improve the support of children with special educational needs and disability; and published the first UK-wide child poverty strategy. As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, she led an inquiry which looked at how children and young people are treated in the asylum process; she is currently chairing an inquiry on immigration detention.

Accompanying

"I'm delighted to have an opportunity to be able to use the skills and experience I have gained in Parliament to work directly with refugees,” said Ms Teather. “I have long admired JRS as a charity. In my work, both in the UK and visiting refugee projects internationally, I have been hugely impressed by the ethos of JRS and the way in which they serve people in some of the most troubled places in the world. I have seen for myself how their focus on accompanying refugees is a hugely important witness to human dignity", said the former education minister.

As an MP, Sarah Teather has had a long-standing interest in issues affecting refugees in particular, as well as UK housing policy, the Middle East and wider human rights issues. Fr Peter Balleis SJ, the International Director of JRS, believes her background and interests will greatly contribute to their work internationally.

"One of our main priorities is the delivery of education services to forcibly displaced persons in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable: Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria,” he explained. “Offering education to young refugees is our distinct contribution to a more peaceful future. But the needs are so great. We believe Sarah's knowledge and experience in the fields of education, human rights and policymaking offers us an opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives”.

Photo: Sarah Teather visits Nigeria to discuss access to schooling for local children; credit - Okuma Afangide-Ekpoudom