Bishop of Norwich welcomes refugees with picnic
The Bishop of Norwich has held a picnic for refugees from Syria and Afghanistan in the garden of his home near Norwich Cathedral.
Children enjoyed kicking a ball about and running around the garden and food was enjoyed in a festive atmosphere.
Bishop Graham Usher said: “It was a joy to host Syrian and Afghan refugees in the garden and to present certificates to those who have been learning English. I had moving conversations with some Afghan men, who worked for the British Army and British Council and had only been in the UK for a few weeks.
“It is wonderful to be able to provide a safe harbour for those fleeing from, for most of us, unimaginable difficulties in their own home countries. I have been gladdened by the amazing generosity of folk in Norfolk who have contributed to our Refugee Fund which is now reaching over £80,000. Thank you!”
The Diocese of Norwich is handling the fund at the request of Norfolk County Council, to make grants as appropriate over the next months and years as individuals and families settle in the county.
“We have been amazed at the outpouring of generosity from the residents of Norfolk – financially, volunteering their time, donating furniture for the Afghans’ new homes,” says Simon Shreeve, Norfolk County Council’s Service Manager for the People from Abroad Team.
“It goes to show how welcoming Norfolk is, given our city’s history of welcoming Strangers over hundreds of years and offering them sanctuary and safety here, and enabling them to adopt Norfolk as their new home in which to set down their roots and see their children grow up.”
Along with grants for TV licences to help with language learning, a further grant is being issued to provide bicycles for Afghan and Syrian refugees through the Welcome Wheels project, which is delivered by Bicycle Links on King Street in Norwich. This project provides bicycles, safety equipment and road-safety training as part of a package for refugees.
The Diocese of Norwich has also made a house available to provide a home for an Afghan refugee family for two years. A four-bedroomed, mid-terrace property in a multi-cultural area, close to local shops, school, and a mosque it has an enclosed garden.
Bishop Graham said: “My prayer is that this house will soon become a home for a family to settle and thrive in. May they find the welcome that so many “strangers” down the centuries have found in the wonderful city of Norwich. It’s another way of living out the Gospel of Christ in loving our neighbour.”
To find out more about what practical help is still needed, please visit Norfolk County Council's website.