Lambeth welcomes refugee families

Written by on September 27, 2016 in Campaigns, Community, Council, News - Comments Off on Lambeth welcomes refugee families
St Gabriel's College student Nora Serrieh welcomes refugee families

St Gabriel’s College student Nora Serrieh welcomes refugee families

Four Syrian refugee families were formally welcomed to Lambeth last night at a celebration in St Gabriel’s College in Myatt’s Fields.

Representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular groups joined Lambeth mayor Saleha Jaffer, deputy council leader Paul McGlone and Donatus Anyanwu, the council’s lead member for community relations, at the welcome party.

Lambeth has so far welcomed four of the 20 families that the council has agreed to accommodate – making it the borough that has agreed to do most to help Syrian refugees.

Rev. David Musgrave of the Lambeth circuit of the Methodist church, told the celebration: “So much has been done, so much needs to be done.”

The audience heard, for instance, that while the UK government had agreed in principle to admit lone child refugees, not one had yet reached Britain. At least 200 eligible children have been identified in the Calais refugee camp and councils, including Lambeth, have agreed to take them.

The minister-in-charge of Brixton Hill and Mostyn Road Methodist churches said that when he visited the Calais refugee camp: “The image frozen in my brain was of of a nine-year-old-boy saying simply that all he wanted was a safe house and a bed to sleep in.”

Rabbi Janet Darley told how, two years ago, she and mayor Jaffer, a Muslim, had been at a 50-strong gathering in Brixton’s Windrush Square to celebrate the Jewish festival of Succot and to launch the campaign to welcome refugees to Lambeth.

The CitizensUK charity has been at the forefront of the campaign, as have students from St Gabriel’s.

One of them, Nora Serrieh, opened proceedings. “Our idea was that our school could be a place where refugees could be welcome so that er could do our bit to tackle the refugee crisis,” she said.

“That’s why we’re so excited to be hosting this welcome dinner. It’s so inspiring to see our diverse community coming together.”

Her address, like many others, was translated into Arabic for the families whose thanks were, in turn translated into English.

All speakers stressed how much still needs to be done to aid refugees, especially in a borough with an acute housing shortage.

Citizens UK and its South London section have produced two briefings on how Lambeth residents, especially private landlords, can help.

Find out more here or download a Citizens UK briefing document [PDF download].

Meeting co-chair Isobel Whitting

Meeting co-chair Isobel Whitting

 

Cllr Donates Anyanwu, Paul McGlone and mayor Saleha Jaffer

Cllrs Donatus Anyanwu, Paul McGlone and mayor Saleha Jaffer get the youth point of view

 

St Gabriel's pupil Nora Serrieh

St Gabriel’s pupil Nora Serrieh

 

Samantha Palmer of Lambeth's refugees welcome team

Samantha Palmer of Lambeth’s Refugees Welcome team and a lawyer working for the Safe Passage organisation thanks council officers including Lee Lake and Dr Simon Sandberg of Ergo consultants

 

Rev. David Musgrave

Rev. David Musgrave: Much done, more needs to be done

 

Cllr Paul McGlone and Rabbi Janet Darley listen as Mayor Saleha Jaffer addresses the audience

Cllr Paul McGlone and Rabbi Janet Darley listen as Mayor Saleha Jaffer addresses the audience

 

Sheikh Jaffer Ladak of the Hyderi Islamic Centre in Streatham

Sheikh Jaffer Ladak of the Hyderi Islamic Centre in Streatham

 

Children at the celebration had entertainers to amuse them

Children at the celebration had entertainers to amuse them

 

Mayor Jaffer and Cllr McGlone were presented with a certificate of thanks from CitizensUk

Mayor Jaffer and Cllr McGlone were presented with a certificate of thanks from CitizensUk

 

Co-chair Hafiza, herself a refugee from Syria 10 years ago, translates

Co-chair Hafiza, herself a refugee from Syria 10 years ago, translates

 

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Lianna Etkind gives a Jewish reading

Lianna Etkind gives a Jewish reading

 

A secular address from Rachel Borrell

A secular address from Rachel Borrell

 

Mother Ellen Eames, chaplain of St Gabriel's gives a Christian reading

Mother Ellen Eames, chaplain of St Gabriel’s, gives a Christian reading

 

Rabbi Janet Darley explains how the movement to welcome refugees to Lambeth began in Windrush Square

Rabbi Janet Darley explains how the movement to welcome refugees to Lambeth began in Windrush Square

 

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About the Author

Alan Slingsby moved to Brixton just as the 1981 uprising began. His nearest pub was the Effra and nearest off licence the Frontline — long gone in an earlier wave of closures of treasured community establishments. Has edited newspapers for the National Union of Students and National Union of Teachers. Now makes a living designing magazines and books and anything else people will pay him for.

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