Revd Liz updates us on the It’s Pants appeal from last November and the concerning news of how people seeking asylum have been moved from Greenwich at short notice
You may remember the It’s Pants campaign before Christmas during which members of our congregations generously bought NEW pants and socks for asylum seekers living in 2 hotels in Greenwich. Care 4 Calais was wonderful at supporting these men as best they could, and they made sure our gifts got to their destination.
Sadly, earlier this month a large number of these asylum seekers were forcibly moved from their hotels at just a few hour’s notice and relocated to Hertfordshire. (See more on this news reported by The Guardian this week)
Care 4 Calais have been appalled by the lack of notice given and the disruption caused to so many lives. And the leader of Greenwich Council, Anthony Okereke, deplores the fact that the council have been trying for a long time to work with the government to improve the welfare of people living in these hotels, but has received no response from the Home Office. (Read the statement from Greenwich Council on their website)
Once they became aware that they were going to be forcibly removed, Care 4 Calais liaised with the Church of England in Dunstable to seek support for the asylum seekers moved from Greenwich. The Church has stepped up to the challenge, but distressingly, right wing activists have been active in whipping up feeling against these men, adding to their distress, sense of isolation and anxiety.
The parish of Dunstable and the Diocese of St Albans have condemned this hostile activity. In a statement issued last week they said: “We strongly and unreservedly condemn the use of language to dehumanise people seeking asylum”.
I am still in close contact with Care 4 Calais and we are seeking ways in which local churches can help these asylum seekers given the events of the past few weeks.
Please pray for those who have come to this country seeking asylum, were at least receiving support from those who cared about their plight and were taking advantage of opportunities to gain education and skills. Because they now find themselves in a place where they have no connections and have already experienced the ugly face of those who choose not to recognise their humanity.
Please pray for the church in Dunstable, that it will be a channel for the work of the kingdom.
And please pray for a change of heart in those who judge and reject the stranger God calls us to treat as a brother or sister.