As a Director of NREC, a resident of Aldwincle, and an attendee at Thrapston Baptist Church I have been invited to attend a meeting of East Northants Faith Group where we will discuss how we can support asylum seekers and refugees in our region. It’s vital that we not only respond with compassion but also with a sense of urgency, after all the camp, dubbed ‘the jungle’, has been home to those fleeing war and famine since 2002. However, it is also a time to reflect, I have been moved and humbled by the compassion and humanity those communities I am part of have demonstrated recently.
This evening I will go to St Peter’s Church in Aldwincle to collect the harvest donations and messages of hope collected as part of their harvest service and by the children at Trinity Primary School, who made helping refugees the theme of their harvest celebrations. I am told the Church is overflowing with donations. This will join the car loads of food, toiletries, blankets and clothes that I have collected through Thrapston Baptist Church and on Saturday 03 October 2015 Thrapston Farmers’ Market is welcoming us to collect donations and messages of hope there. At The University of Northampton, where I work, our law students raised £162 for Care Without Borders (Sons Sans frontiers) and wrote messages of hope. I am grateful to all those who have shown compassion and am proud to count them amongst my friends.
On Monday I was given the opportunity to talk to the children at Trinity about refugees. I showed them a beautiful cartoon produced by the UNHCR and we explored the difference between refugees and migrants. You can view the video here. The children were attentive, the questions they asked thoughtful, and the adjectives they used to describe how refugees must feel demonstrated empathy and love. I expect when I look through the messages of hope they included with their harvest donations a tear may be shed.
I was honoured to be able to share, through NREC’s campaign of public legal education, and I would encourage everyone to take the time to explore the issues our brothers and sisters in Calais, Kos, on the borders of Hungary and elsewhere face with each other – but be prepared, it’s emotional.
The challenge now is to ready ourselves to welcome our new neighbours into these communities, but what pride we can do this with knowing that these communities are so warm and loving.