I wish to raise two points this evening
- I encourage everyone to use accurate terms when talking about people, those like you and me, who are seeking Refuge and Asylum. Some parts of the media use terms like migrant when what they are really referring to are refugees. I have copies of the various terms used, described succinctly by the British Red Cross, these are for you to take away with you this evening.
- I want us, as a Parish, to have a conversation about what we can do to help.
We heard in Sunday’s second reading, James 2:14-18 ‘If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough to live on and one of you says to them “I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.’ There are many other examples in scripture to be found.
It took the death of a little boy, three-year-old Aylan, who drowned along with his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother, Rihan, washed up on the beach in Bodrum in Turkey for the world to take note of the crisis in Syria which is going to go down in history as a human tragedy. A new report from the United Nations refugee agency says that more than 2,600 migrants and refugees have died or gone missing this year while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Pope Francis, less than 2 weeks ago, in his Angelus address, called on every parish and religious community in Europe to offer shelter to migrant families and to host a migrant family. He spoke of concrete gestures of hope. Our Bishops are responding by trying to find a central point of contact in each diocese.
I do not want to take away anything that is already being done, e.g. the SVP provide an excellent outreach to those in need.
We are very fortunate to live in Blessed John Henry Newman parish, it is lively as a parish and looking at the people here this evening is evidence. In the past we have been very generous in giving to disasters, like earthquakes or tsunamis. I think we need to have another conversation and explore what we as a parish can offer.
Are we aware that Leeds is a City of Sanctuary, one of several throughout the country who want to build a culture of welcoming to Refugees and Asylum Seekers? Together, we can make Leeds a place of safety and welcome.
Yesterday evening I attended a meeting at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, who generously hosted the event; there were over 200 people of different faiths and none. All these people wanted to help and there are so many different ways to help, even if you have only an hour to spare. There is an excellent website: https://leedsmultiagency.wordpress.com
, which gives such detailed ways one can help, whether it is Time: Money: Things or Thought.
So what is happening in Leeds and locally? I learnt that our City Council are wanting to work with the voluntary organisations. I met a couple there who live in Crossgates, Ian and Claire Martin (email@example.com) they are calling a meeting on Friday 9th October at 5.30 pm at David Young Academy, Moyes Centre, on North Parkway and they have invited our Leeds East MP Richard Burgon. I am unable to attend, as we are away that weekend, but I hope there will be someone here who could attend, representing our Parish. Another meeting following on from the Playhouse meeting will be held on Wednesday 21st October, venue to be confirmed.
Many asylum seekers and refugees go without food and adequate clothing. Many of the people who arrive have nothing with them except the clothes on their back. I have listed some organisations that are collecting food, clothing and other equipment for people in Leeds and beyond.
PAFRAS in Harehills - Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Leeds City of Sanctuary Meeting Point in Armley
Some of the items needed include:
- Clothes, particularly men’s t-shirts, jogging pants and warm tops
- New underwear, particularly men’s and new socks
- Coats, jackets, hats, gloves and shoes
- Women’s and children’s clothing also needed as there are families at the centre but most of the residents are men PAFRAS (Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers) provide a hot meal at their weekly drop-in plus much needed food parcels. They need donations of:
- Tins: Tomatoes, pulses, baked beans, spaghetti, chick-pea, vegetables and fruit, fish and meat (except pork). Custard, rice pudding etc. are also good.
- Dry food: Sugar, rice, pasta, couscous, pulses, cereals, (these are split down into portions, so catering size bags are useful), tea, small jars of instant coffee, cereals.
- Sweets: Dried fruit, nuts, biscuits, chocolate bars and cakes.
- Long-life milk, fruit juices, and diluting juice/squash, cooking oil.
- Toiletries such as soap, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, tooth paste and brushes, safety razors and sanitary towels. Things like babies’ nappies, talcum powder, baby wipes, etc. are also always helpful.
- Clothes, blankets and sleeping bags.
A number of Leeds organisations are helping to collect items for people living in refugee camps around the world.
Leeds No Borders
have a long running Calais Solidarity campaign
which collects practical equipment for people living in Calais (materials to build shelters, tarpaulins, tents, non-perishable food, shoes etc).
Chapeltown Community Collection Point
has reopened for donations of clothes, shelter equipment, toiletries and cooking equipment to be delivered to Calais and other refugees in Europe.
will be departing on 17th September to deliver aid to refugees in France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. They are collecting food, clothes, toiletries, shelter equipment and other things at their collection point in Batley. For specifics, please visit their website.
appeal will be running for the second time between 3-14 October at St. Luke’s church in Holbeck. They will be collecting winter clothes for men, women and children, blankets as well as maternity packs for pregnant women, which will be delivered to refugee camps in Iraq.
Is this something that we would want to do to help as a Parish?
I have items in my wardrobe that I do not wear, perhaps it is a good excuse for a clear out! Do you?
I would happily deliver donations of toiletries, sanitary items, clothing and items for art therapy (paper, paints, brushes, coloured pencils, crayons, scissors etc);
Items for social activities (balls, board games, cards, dice etc);
Books in various languages, to the various collection points.
Would a second collection be appropriate?
Should we explore possibilities further without the pressure of a deadline to finish this big subject this evening?