The World Day for Migrants and Refugees was marked on Dover Seafront by Bishop Paul McAleenan and a gathering of supporters on Saturday 25th September at midday.
Barbara Kentish, Refugee and Migrants lead for the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, gave a reflection at the service and is campaigning against the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill, currently making its way through Parliament. Barbara writes:
Now, more than ever, we call on our faith to resist the draconian immigration law currently being discussed in Parliament. The example of migrants’ faith is so inspiring, as is the groundswell of public goodwill, such as we see from the RNLI. Many Councils are also agreeing to take families. Our country can be so much better than the spirit of the Nationality and Borders Bill demonstrates.
Ben Bano, from Seeking Sanctuary, also attended the service and writes:
The well known hymn ‘Eternal Father strong to save’ is frequently associated with military parades and services, but it was a particularly apt choice when we gathered on the Dover seafront for a service on the eve of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees which included a blessing of the sea led by the local parish priest Fr Jeff Cridland.
As we looked out to the sea, it was an opportunity for the 25 people gathered from local churches and faith communities to remember the dangers of the English Channel for migrants and their families in their desperate searches for sanctuary.
The service which was organised by ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ was led by Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead Bishop of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for migrants and refugees, who reminded us of the Christian duty to provide a humane and welcoming attitude to those who attempt to reach our shores having suffered poverty violence and persecution.
Alongside the memorial to migrants who have lost their lives seeking safety we remembered the powerful words of Pope Francis, ‘Every migrant has a name, a face and a story’.
‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about people displaced from their homes and to channel basic humanitarian assistance from Faith Communities and Community Organisations via partnerships with experienced aid workers. Our special concern is for the 2000 or so exiles who are stuck in north-western France, mistakenly expecting a welcome in the UK.
They need food, water, good counsel and clothes, which are accepted, sorted and distributed by several organisations, including two Calais warehouses which also supply needs further afield. Contact Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802 for ways to help.
For more information see: www.seekingsanctuary.weebly.com