Well done to everyone who contributed to the efforts to support refugees who are being displaced from Mosul. We have put some photographs on our Flickr site, which you can access here or through the link in the footer of this website.
Our parishioners started supporting asylum seekers arriving in Stockport 12 months last October when we heard they were being billeted within our parish boundaries, by opening a store in the parish centre. In order to fund and stock it, appeals were made to all parishes and schools within our LPA as well as to parishes and schools far afield.
The response was magnificent and we built up an excellent stock of clothes, and the funds we received kept our stocks of toiletries and trainers flowing. The store over the bar opened every Tuesday afternoon and our visitors were made welcome and given refreshments whilst they waited their turn to go upstairs to be kitted out.
On average 15- 25 asylum seekers visited us each week, though when the flow of people was at its height we could have as many as 45- 60. We build up reciprocal friendship with Dialstone Methodist Church when they agreed to look after women and children whilst we at St Peter’s attended to the men.
There was a wonderful team of about 20 people in St Peter’s who turned up week on week from October to June to make our visitors welcome, whether it was serving drinks and biscuits; fitting shoes ; handing out bags of toiletries; offering Tshirts, jackets, jeans and jumpers or simply trying to communicate- which created much fun and laughter! We were fortunate to have among our team two language experts who, between them, were able to speak a number of the languages spoken by the asylum seekers – and what joy that created for our visitors.
Then our store activity came abruptly to an end in June when the government agency involved with asylum seekers ceased to use the accommodation within the parish boundaries.
All asylum seekers are now billeted in Wigan and a considerable amount of our stock was sent out there whilst it was needed. We agreed at our Justice and Peace meeting to leave the store stocked for a few months to see if Stockport accommodation might be brought into use again. However this has not happened, and we were starting to consider how we might disperse all the clothing we had when we received a request from the Kurdistan Charity Association in Manchester for any warm clothing we could let them have. We invited them to come and speak to us at our meeting and we then learnt of the desperate plight of refugees living in a tented city in the hills of the Kurdistan border. With winter approaching (which are very severe) there is dire need for warm clothing and footwear. Our visitors told us the camp is expected to expand massively with the influx of a new wave of refugees fleeing from the horror of Mosul.
The Manchester Kurdistan Charity Organisation is organised to send out aid overland via large trucks. All they asked was that we packed all our clothing into cardboard boxes or bags and it would be collected from the parish and taken down to London and then on overland to Kurdistan. Understandably with the fear of people freezing to death, time was of the essence, so over the last two weeks a team of volunteers has met on seven separate afternoons to roll up the clothes and pack them tightly into boxes or bags. Dialstone Methodist Church send us their stock of women and children’s winter clothes which we added to our offerings. The task is now complete and our pictures show some of the seventy plus parcels we have put together to send on their long journey to Kurdistan.
A grateful thank you to so many members of the parish who have been part of these two rewarding endeavours.