Christian welcome offered to Norwich-bound refugees
Early on Saturday September 24, three boat loads of people navigated the river Wensum to alight at Pull’s Ferry in a symbolic gesture to show that refugees and asylum seekers are welcome in Norwich.
Helen Baldry reports
As the first boat approached, jubilant singing could be heard from the passengers, which included local Christians and asylum seekers and refugees to the city.
The purpose of the event was to be a display of welcome from the churches in the city, regardless of faith or nationality.
Carrie Sant, from Norwich-based City Saints organised this event, which was inspired by the Bishop’s Pilgrimage day. It was announced that a prize would be given for the most imaginative way of travelling, which sparked Carrie’s idea to orchestrate the river-bank welcome. She said, “We are focusing on asylum seekers and refugees but the boats will be decorated with flags which include European and Eastern European flags also to make sure that the welcome is inclusive as part of our stand against racism.”
Carrie works closely with refugees and asylum seeks coming to the city and ensures they can access the support and services they need. Today’s arrival on the river was symbolic of the many people to come to Norwich – there were representatives from Sri Lanka, the Congo, Pakistan and Egypt.
Bishop’s Chaplain Revd Susanna Gunner said, “There is a long tradition of Norwich being a welcoming city. We are putting our heads above the parapet to show that our city is a welcoming place.”
The Bishop of Thetford Rt Revd Alan Winton said words of welcome to the travellers and helped them off the boat to be greeted by a group of people from various denominations and backgrounds.
Words from the welcome that was said
Pictured above: the boats as they approached Pull's Ferry. Bishop Alan helping people off the boat with Carrie Sant.
Priest – Who are these that come to us on the water?
Travellers – We represent those who come across the seas and seek sanctuary in the City of Norwich.
Priest – On behalf of the Christian Church in Norwich, we welcome you whatever your faith or nationality. We pray that you will find safety and we pray a blessing on your families that you may prosper in our midst.
Welcomers – As citizens of Norwich we welcome you.