Individual Quaker Voices Aiding Efforts For The Refugee Crisis

quaker_home_theme1[Updated 18/9/2015] Article from Gemma Considine: 

The Individual Quaker Voices Aiding Efforts For The Refugee Crisis

By coming together and raising their voices as one, the Quaker community has taken huge steps towards advocating for and changing the lives of the refugee community. However, as well as working hard on a national level, individual Quaker Meeting Houses have been working within their own communities to support and raise the profile of those refugees living in their regions.

A wonderful example of this is currently in progress in Chesham, where the Quaker Meeting House have worked alongside other leaders in the community to support an appeal from a local Syrian woman who is hoping to rescue her vulnerable family, all of whom are also refugees, living in a refugee camp in the Lebanon. Her aunt and four cousins (who are all aged between 12-17 years old) are in an increasingly perilous position, and so she is appealing to the government to allow her family to enter the country. She is being aided in her appeal by Liz Pilbean from the Chesham Quaker Meeting House, and other religious and political leaders from the community. This is a wonderful example of an individual case of Meeting Houses working to aid and assist refugees in need on an individual level, as well as the much more widely publicised national level campaigns working so hard to aid the huge refugee community. It is also a great example of all religious and community leaders choosing to work together for the benefit of a greater good. By choosing to be proactive and reach out to her community for support, rather than succumb to depression and despair, She has set an excellent example of what can be achieved when individuals do reach out to their community and work together.

The Urgent Need For Refugee Safety

In the most recent statement on the crisis from the Quaker’s representative body in London, it was announced that: “Quakers assert that all human life is precious – each person is a child of God and the loss of one diminishes us all. In this severe crisis, we hear the Spirit calling us to throw ourselves into the fray with all the love and courage we can muster.” This is a message that it is important and that should be held at the forefront of every fundraising or support campaign effort for refugees, both from Syria and elsewhere, that Quaker Meeting Houses and individuals are involved in.

With the United Nations International Day of Peace fast approaching, it provides the perfect opportunities for Quaker groups to both promote, raise awareness for, and commence fundraising for the Syrian refugees so greatly in need of both peace and support. This is an idea already in progress by Quakers, on behalf of Churches Together in Wilmslow, who will be setting up a stall at the town’s artisan market on International Peace Day, in order to both raise funds and encourage local residences to share inspirational messages of peace that can hang on the stall and ultimately be shared to deliver uplifting reassurance and solidarity to those refugees who are feeling so depressed, hopeless and down spirited.

The message shared by Quaker Andrew Backhouse, who has helped to orchestrate the Wilmslow peace event, is an incredibly important one and one that bears repeating: “Many people who now call Wilmslow ‘home’ were not born here and came to the place first as strangers. These refugees, just like all of us, have hopes and dreams for their families. That’s why they’re taking such terrible risks to get here and escape the war and upheaval in the places they’ve come from.” We are an increasingly multicultural society. There are very few true ‘native peoples of Britain’ and this multiculturalism is something we embrace. And yet many of us are so reluctant to allow these refugees to enter our country, when they are nothing more than people just like us. It is difficult to comprehend, and something that should be railed against to ensure the survival of these individuals so in need of our support. As these stories demonstrate, our voices can be just as loud individually as they are when they protest in unison.

References

“Chesham Community Comes to Aid of Syrian Family”, Get Buckshttp://www.getbucks.co.uk/news/local-news/chesham-community-comes-aid-syrian-10069518

“Depression in Women”, Psych Guideshttp://www.psychguides.com/guides/depression-in-women/

“Quakers make urgent call for safe paths for refugees”, Ekklesia : A new way of thinkinghttp://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22045

“Quakers set out their stall for peace”, Wilmslow.co.uk,  http://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/12271/quakers-set-out-their-stall-for-peace

“Refugee solidarity demonstration sees tens of thousands march on Westminster”, Christian Todayhttp://www.christiantoday.com/article/in.pictures.refugee.solidarity.demonstration.sees.tens.of.thousands.march.on.westminster/64612.htm 

“Chester council and residents tell refugees they are welcome in the city”, Chester Chroniclehttp://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/chester-council-refugees-welcome-here-10003889 

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Tim Cook Our LM in High Wycombe is working with a community organisation in the town to raise funds and donations of food and clothing for refugees. We opened our Meeting House up as a drop-off point for donations and were overwhelmed by the response! It has brought us into closer contact with many groups in our community, particularly our Muslim friends at the local mosque. The donations group is now evolving into a pressure group as well. A petition has been presented to our District Council asking them to commit to taking at least 50 refugee families, and members of the group are offering their services as ‘mentors’ or ‘befrienders’ for refugees when they arrive, to help them to adapt to life here and cope with tasks like shopping, registering with a doctor, finding a local school, etc.