Norwich mothers campaign for Syrian refugees
Norwich Diocese Mothers' Union is leading a campaign to lobby Norfolk County Council to give sanctuary in the county to 50 refugees from Syria. Under the auspices of Sanctuary Norfolk 50, the Mother's Union is asking people to sign an online petition backing the campaign. Diocesan President Marguerite Phillips reports...
Mothers’ Union Norwich Diocese is part of an international Christian mission organisation putting faith and prayer into action and dedicated to helping and nurturing family life and helping those in crisis. Last autumn we had the opportunity to host a fundraising breakfast for, and to send over £700 directly to, the Church in Iraq and Syria where members are dealing with the thousands of refugees gathered in camps or trapped in towns besieged by extremist fighters. We have witnessed the desperation and suffering nightly on our television screens.
Just a week after the breakfast a further opportunity arose to take more practical action to help the refugee situation. Alerted by an item in Network Norwich’s newsletter I attended a Norwich Interfaith Group meeting where we resolved to lobby Norfolk County Council to give refuge to 50 people which probably means just a dozen families. Sanctuary Norfolk 50 was born. Norwich and Norfolk have a proud heritage as a place of sanctuary from accepting the Huguenot “Strangers” to the refugees from DR Congo seven years ago. On St Nicholas’ Day at a gathering of over 100 supporters Sanctuary Norfolk presented a petition with over 200 signatories together with gifts from Norfolk schoolchildren to the leaders of the various political parties that make up the Council. We have support for the Sanctuary campaign from The Bishops of Norwich and Lynn and the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia as well as leaders of the Liberal Jewish Community, local Mosques and the Unitarians and Quakers.
Our Mothers’ Union diocesan facebook team has maintained regular prayer posts ever since but did you know that our government has pledged to take 450 of the most vulnerable refugees from these camps? So far only just over 100 refugees have been settled and none yet in Norfolk. 50 is a very small number and these people have seen brutality at its worst and have had to flee for their lives. For a year such refugees, resettled by the UNHCR, are fully funded by the European Union.
Should Norfolk County Council agree and the refugees arrive there will be valuable practical ways in which Sanctuary Norfolk members local faith groups alike could help with befriending (giving a listening ear, help with form filling, offering advice, accompanying to the shops or surgery) and providing household necessities such as starter packs. Some have even said that they will make their homes available for accommodation.
Before the Councillors meet to vote on this issue we are having one final push to convince them. This is a chance now for individuals to support us by signing the following e-petition which will go directly to County Hall:
You can also access the petition via our our facebook page which has a link: https://www.facebook.com/MothersUnionNorwich
I hope you will be moved to support us and Sanctuary Norfolk by taking prayer forward into practical action. Please circulate the information about the petition within your communities, among friends, colleagues, neighbours and church family We are aiming for over 1000 signatures within one month - The only condition for a signature to be counted is that the signatory must have a Norfolk address.