An invitation to reflect and share stories of hope and joy.
Flintshire City of Sanctuary (FCOS), the local branch of the nationwide movement, invites you to walk on a journey of solidarity and celebration during Refugee Week, 14-20 June.
The last year has been challenging and painful for all of us, but imagine you fled your home country because of war, violence, or natural disaster, leaving loved ones behind and have recently arrived in Wales with little or no English and few belongings. This has been the reality for people seeking safety and welcome in North Wales, including Flintshire.
In 2019, the Welsh Government set out a goal of becoming the first Nation of Sanctuary, and with this not only offered support to people seeking sanctuary in our country, but also to communities to embrace refugees and asylum seekers. In the government document ‘Refugee and Asylum Seeker plan (Nation of Sanctuary)’, Jane Hunt, then Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, states that “the skills, experience and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers are useful to Wales and their inclusion will enhance our communities”.
Flintshire has welcomed 10 resettled refugee families into our community since 2017. FCOS and its partners have continued regular contact with the families over the last year, developing creative means of communicating and engaging with adults and children.
Activities delivered via online platforms included:
- A new on-line news wall allowed sharing of information on changing pandemic rules, introduction of the vaccination programme, including countering false stories, and social exchange.
- A programme of drumming workshops from Theatr Clwyd for young people.
- Practical English conversation classes from Language for Living, FCOS’s education team, delivered individually with each family.
- New, age-specific activities for children: Book Club, maths and science clubs and ‘Syrian Voices’ for Year 6+ students to develop leadership and citizenship.
- Deliveries of gift packs of craft materials, educational resources and food treats for Easter, Eid and Christmas offered a brief chance to say hello in a Covid-safe way.
Over the year, friendships have deepened and understanding of each other strengthened.
For Refugee Week, FCOS has created a series of short films made by and with trustees, volunteers, supporters and people with lived experience, to capture the journey for sanctuary seekers and people in Wales and Flintshire since 2015. They take the viewer on a journey of understanding and provide a sense of direction for us all to walk together into the future, as a community.
The videos will be screened from Monday to Friday of Refugee Week, 14-18 June), but will then be available on their own YouTube channel “Flintshire City of Sanctuary” as a resource. For more details, see https://flintshire.cityofsanctuary.org/ or email [email protected] Flintshire.CityofSanctuary.org
On Saturday 19th, we join Theatr Clwyd in celebrating their Award of “Theatre of Sanctuary” by UK City of Sanctuary. For more information see details on their media channels (www.theatrclwyd.com).
Flintshire City of Sanctuary Chair, Liz Litherland: “…from the very first summer school in 2018 and right through the pandemic we have relied on Theatre Clwyd to be our proactive partners…. They have had their own challenges with restrictions but began to plan ahead for better days as soon as it was feasible. They have consistently provided friendship and resources to the Syrian families and City of Sanctuary. They truly deserve the award of Theatre of Sanctuary”.
To draw Refugee Week 2021 to a close, Cytun (Churches Together) invites you to join an ecumenical service at St. David’s Church in Mold on Sunday, 20 June at 4pm. (COVID regulations permitting)
At the centre of the service will be a Lampedusa cross. The Lampedusa crosses were made by carpenter Francesco Tuccio in Lampedusa, Italy, in the aftermath of a boat tragedy in October 2013 when a wooden boat carrying 466 people from Somalia and Eritrea caught fire and sank near the island, drowning 311.
We would like to express our thanks to our supportive partners Theatr Clwyd, Together Creating Communities, Ethnic Youth Support Team, and the many individuals, local churches and organisations who support us.