The photo of the body of little Aylan Kurdi, the three year old Syrian boy lying drowned, face down on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey, at the beginning of September brought home to many people the desperate plight and dreadful suffering of our fellow humans seeking to escape the awful terror of war zones.
I think you’d have be pretty callous not to be moved by this image and question why this is happening and what can be done?
I recently attended the Southend Welcoming Refugees event hosted by CAST (Communities And Sanctuary-seekers Together) at the United Reformed Church in Crowstone Rd, Westcliff. The event was an opportunity to find out what’s being done in Southend to help refugees from war zones around the world, including Afganistan, Iraq and Syria, giving a platform to many speakers representing a variety of organisations. The evening proved hugely popular with over 130 people from Southend in attendance.
The first speaker to take the stand was Wisdom Munhapa, a former asylum seeker himself in this country. In answer to his rhetorical question,” What do asylum seekers need most?”, he said:
“According to my own experience, the most important thing is to be welcomed and accepted. Of course you need shelter and food, but if you are not welcomed, you will not be able to enjoy it.”
I believe that the majority of people in this country have the love and compassion to extend the hand of help to these thousands of suffering fellow humans and hope that, as a country, we are able to take more than the 20,000 so far pledged by our government.
Southend Borough Council has plans to accommodate 10 refugees at present, a figure that I trust will rise over the coming years to at least 50 – that being proportionately the area’s quota of the 20,000.
Pictured below are the speakers who briefly explained what they and their organisations are doing to help alleviate the suffering at present (photo courtesy of Kenwyn Pierce URC)
The speakers and links to relevant websites:
Trish Carpenter (Citizens Advice Southend)
Nikki Nicolas (Southend CalAid)
Jim Kilpin (Baptist Minister)
Rosemary Estherby (Red Cross)
Joey Knock (Christian Aid)
Julian Ware-Lane (Milton Ward Councillor)
Andy Goodliff (Southend Foodbank)
Owen Jones (Hope Not Hate)
Mike Royston (Reform Synagogue)
Imam Iftikhar ul-Haq (UKIM Southend Mosque)
Martin Mitchell (Diocese of Chelmsford)
Hannah Bucke (Town Centre Chaplain)
Matthew Williams (Link Law)
Dan Turpin (SAVS)