According to a 2016 survey by Meeting for Sufferings, the national Quaker representative body, more local Quaker meetings are working to welcome people forced to flee their homes than on any other issue. Responses include setting up and supporting City of Sanctuary groups, befriending newcomers, protesting at detention centres, sourcing and providing accommodation for refugees, sending donations to Calais and in some cases helping out in refugee camps in person.
On a national level, Quakers have joined with others to call on the government to take a fair and proportionate share of refugees from both Europe and beyond and to establish safe and legal routes to the UK.
Supporting Quaker action
In recognition of the current situation, of our history of helping refugees and of the significant concern being shown by local meetings, Meeting for Sufferings has requested the scoping of a centrally managed programme supporting Quakers to take action and advocate for change together. It also hoped that the resultant programme will play a part in changing the present hostile media attitude towards people on the move.
A process of scoping, research, preparation and educational events is currently underway, including a threshing tour of meetings this spring. Friends will also mark Refugee Week 19–25 June.
If you are taking action to improve the lives of refugees and/or would like to share your experience or ideas with us, please get in touch with Tim using the details below.
Listening tour of meetings
Listening events will be taking place as follows:
28 February: Leeds Friends Meeting House, 6.15pm
1 March: Sheffield Friends Meeting House, 11.30am
1 March: Wakefield Friends Meeting House, 7pm
2 March: Doncaster Friends Meeting House, 10.30am
3 March: Llangollen Friends Meeting, 2pm
27 March: Coventry Friends Meeting House, time tbc
1 April: Friends House Euston, 10am–4.30pm
7 April: Oxford Friends Meeting House, 7pm
9 April: Bristol Redland Meeting House, Meeting for Worship begins 11am. Discussion takes place thereafter.
Sessions will also take place at Northern Friends Peace Board (4 March) and Quaker Peace & Social Witness Spring Conference (24-26 March).