Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dates in the Square - Wk3 - Sanctuary

The third of the 2012 "Dates in the Square" events, was held on 8st August and focussed on seeking sanctuary. It included a short talk by Bishop Paul Butler, a testimony from Arian (who came to the UK seeking sactuary from persecution in Syria) and finally a reflection from Bea Tobolewska, head of Notts and Nottingham Refugee Forum. (see here for 1st and 2nd events)

Bishop Paul Butler
Bishop Paul focussed on the recent "Homelessness and Hope" report that was the result of an investigation into homelessness and destitution in Nottingham (see also here).

He commented that reading the report "made me weep" and that people needed to read the report and, just as importantly, ensure that their local decision-makers (Councillors, Imams, NGO's etc) were aware of the report and its findings.

The Bishop closed by summarising his message as "Please look at the "Homlessness and Hope" report and act on it"

Bishop Paul Butler

Arriving in the UK several years ago to escape persecution in his native Syria, Arian's application for asylum was initially rejected. Arian appealed against this decision, but was denied access to any support funds during this appeal process, leaving him completely destitute.

He commented on how it had been Nottingham Arimathea Trust and Himmah who had helped provide him with accomodation and sustinence during this difficult time - when no one else wanted to help him. (see here for how NAT and Himmah have been working together)

Happily, Arian was able to say that his appeal had been successful and he now had refugee status.

Great to see such a wide demographic at the event.
(note the, very polite,  PCO in background asking the Bishop if the event has official permisson)

Bea Toboloweska
Bea, who is manager at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum began her talk by mentioning that it was almost exactly 40 years since the Ugandan expulsion of Asians and that one of her first memories of being aware of current affairs was watching the news and asking her father who all these people were arriving in the UK - and of feeling very proud when she was told that the UK was accepting these people as refugees.

Bea then moved on to give an outline of the asylum process in the UK, saying that the rules were quite strict and explaining that an "asylum seeker" was someone who was going through the process of seeking refugee status and that there was no such thing as a "bogus" or "legal" asylum seeker.

She also countered the myth that many of the worlds refugees were targeting the UK or Europe by pointing out that the UK only receives 2% of the worlds refugees and that the rest of Europe only receives around 15%. In contrast, some 66% of the worlds refugees are located in countries directly bordering conflict areas in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Lastly, Bea gave an outline of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, saying that it had initially been formed, many years ago, to provide a social function to asylum seekers and refugees by providing with help in orientating themselves in the UK and also providing help and advice.

Bea Toboloweska

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