Lord Dubs to issue Easter message for atheist and humanist prisoners | Society

The refugees’ rights campaigner Alf Dubs will issue a secular Easter message on Good Friday to atheist and humanist prisoners held in British jails.

The Labour peer, who escaped the Holocaust as a child, will speak to incarcerated non-believers via National Prison Radio, urging them not to give up hope in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

Lord Dubs said he had made the recording because he was concerned that atheist and humanist inmates, like other prisoners, were unable to have visitors during the national lockdown.

His Good Friday message is the initiative of Humanists UK, which runs a humanist/atheist pastoral care service in jails across the UK.

It will include his story of how he fled to Britain on the Kindertransport trains that evacuated Jewish children from countries like Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Dubs, a Labour member of the House of Lords who in 2016 shamed Conservative ministers into opening Britain’s borders to refugee children stranded in Europe, described himself as a “gentle humanist, not a militant one”.

He said: “In my message I will remind the prisoners about how I escaped the Nazis and the Holocaust. And I will talk to them about the refugees today living in terrible conditions in the camps of Greece and northern France. I think there are parallels to be made and the message is that as a country we can give people like that hope. It is the same hope that we can also give to those who are incarcerated too.”

Dubs said he was impressed by the support that he and Humanists UK had received from the prison authorities.

“They have been very keen to have us on Prison Radio as a means of boosting morale in these challenging times,” he said. “It has been difficult for humanist pastors to reach many prisoners under this lockdown so this message and others to come from supporters of Humanists UK will hopefully make them feel that they are not completely alone.”

As well as his audio message Dubs will read extracts of WH Auden’s 1939 poem Refugee Blues. He has also chosen a song, the Irish ballad Danny Boy, which he said was one of his favourite pieces of music.

Andrew Copson, the chief executive of Humanists UK, said other patrons of the organisation would broadcast messages during the next few weeks and months for humanist and atheist prisoners during the lockdown.

He said: “For prisoners, their circumstances are even more dire and it is vital that they receive the emotional and pastoral support they need. We hope our work in providing these humanist broadcasts will remind prisoners that we are thinking of them, and that they are not alone in perhaps having greater feelings of anxiety and loneliness – it is very human to feel this way right now.

“During the broadcasts we will also be reminding them of their legal rights to be provided with a humanist pastoral carer who can provide bereavement support and compassion from a like-minded person who understands their worldview.”

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