Last week was Refugee Week 2019, an opportunity to discover the experiences of displacement that are found in our families, neighbourhoods and history. This year’s theme, ‘You, me and those who came before’, allows us to explore the lives of refugees – and those who have welcomed them – throughout the generations.
People escaping war and persecution have been welcomed by communities in the UK for hundreds of years, and their stories and contributions are all around us. From the Jewish refugees of the 1930s to people fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s, Kosovans in the 1990s to those arriving today.
One example from the YCW is our Sandbach IMPACT! group. Since 2017, the young leaders there have been raising money within their Parish to sponsor a refugee family and build a welcoming community of people to support them once they arrive. This involved sorting out accommodation, home improvements and on-going support.
It is essential that we maintain our global solidarity and be inspired by the words of Pope Francis: “The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalisation of indifference”. In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion.
In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalisation and exclusion.”