On Saturday, a sunny Ribble Valley welcomed over 150 refugees and their families from Manchester, Burnley and Blackburn to a fabulous day out relaxing in the countryside. Organised by Tom and Catherine Clay, parishioners of St. Mary’s, Sabden (Tom pictured below) and linked to refugee organisations like Revive, the highlights of the day was a barbecue organised by the local Muslim community and activities hosted by Stonyhurst College.
Amongst the students there to welcome us was a group called the Hummingbirds. They are working towards the College being amongst the first educational establishment in the country to link up with their local community to welcome a refugee family under the new Community Sponsorship scheme supported by Caritas Diocese of Salford. Asked about the significance of the Hummingbird we were told that in a fable about a forest fire that threatened the whole living forest community, it was only the smallest of birds that came to the rescue collecting water in their tiny beaks to put the fire out. At first were laughed at by the other animals for their futile gesture but they were not deterred and they didn’t give up on the job that had to be done! As with all good stories, there is a moral here for us all to reflect on. One small step on the Share the Journey to help refugees is not a futile gesture but an act of love and solidarity with all our brothers and sisters suffering.
The plight of refugees and their suffering was remembered by us all though Cafod’s campaign ‘Share the Journey’ as we set out on a countryside walk. Refugees, asylum seekers, friends and family all added a few miles to Cafod’s target to walk in solidarity and collectively achieve the 24,900 miles that would circle the world! Whilst some walked others enjoyed football organised by students from the college.
In September this year we can also all pray with Pope Francis that the United Nations and world leaders will adopt two global agreements or ‘compacts’ as they are known, one on refugees and the other on migration that will protect people experiencing the journey away from violence and poverty towards peace and prosperity. Let’s all be hummingbirds and in solidarity with our global neighbours!
The time flew by and tea and cakes in the college dining room rounded off a very enjoyable family day out for refugees and asylum seekers at Stonyhurst College. Refugee Day Out is just one of the many welcoming activities organised throughout the Diocese of Salford by parishes for refugees and asylum seekers. Other activities include advice, English language lessons, housing support and friendship projects such as our popular ‘Refugee Dine with Me’. To find out more please contact Revive or Caritas Diocese of Salford.