Our second successful meeting of Medway City of Sanctuary took place in the appropriately named Hope Centre for All Nations in the High Street in Rochester. We thank Rock Church and Pastor Ishola Familusi for the use of this excellent facility.
The theme that developed through the evening was that refugees are always real people each with their own unique story. This was illustrated from the blog of local Salvation Army Officer Major Haris harisgiannorous.blogspot.co.uk who is helping refugees in Athens who are transiting Greece.
We also acknowledged the work of Medway Masses doing their bit for the refugees in Calais noting some of their moving interactions with young refugees in the Calais Jungle as they delivered aid.
Time was then given to read out the names and countries of origin (where known) of the 20 plus refugees who have died in tragic circumstances in and around the ‘Jungle’ and the Channel Tunnel in the last 6 months.
City of Sanctuary in Parliament on December 1st (which we are inviting local MPs to attend) will address some of the issues surrounding deaths like these such as highlighting the need for ‘safe and legal’ routes for refugees to travel. This was more than exemplified by our main speaker Johnathan Ellis Head of Advocacy for the British Red Cross and vice chair of City of Sanctuary who had just come from meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May and the Archbishop of York on the subject of asylum destitution, another topic for the Sanctuary in Parliament meeting.
For some the highlight of the evening was Syrian Hala Georges sharing with us some of her own story using evocative video clips echoing her own heartfelt struggles of what war and separation has meant for her and her family.
Reminded of the human cost of this crisis we look forward to seeing Medway playing an active role in welcoming refugees and standing by some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
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