The refugee crisis

As the newspapers lurch from vilifying refugees and wanting to pull up the drawbridge one week to sensationalist, heartrending emotional wailing the next, where do we stand as human beings? What are we supposed to think? And more importantly, what can we do?

Because from where I sit, nothing doesn’t seem to be an option.

I was encouraged by Leanne Wood’s call for Wales to have its own quota of Syrian refugees, but it’s frustrating to think that it has to come through Westminster. David Cameron has to be convinced first.

Iceland, with its population of 330,000, has seen 12,000 people pledge to open their homes to Syrian refugees and provide them with safe haven. We have 3 million people in Wales, nearly 10 times as many! How many could we take in?

At the same time as we see this crisis of people needing somewhere safe to start to pick up the pieces of their lives, we have reports of chapels and churches closing across Wales. Everywhere you go, you see empty buildings, often two or three in the same town. They are left to fall into disrepair, become a target for vandals, and symbolise a loss of what was once a hub in the community.

What if they could become a hub once more, a hub of compassion and nurturing – a safe haven for refugee families to get back on their feet?

What would it take for a community to come together, donate time and materials, and work on renovating an old building like a chapel, turning it into basic accommodation to provide shelter for a family in need?

Could we see a Wales where every community opens its arms to a refugee family and surrounds them with warmth and emotional support as they begin their journey back to normality?

Would it be that hard?

2 thoughts on “The refugee crisis

  1. Alan

    There is an existing project in a number of towns and cities – see cityofsanctuary.org. However, you do need to be based in one of their areas. I live about 15 miles from one of the projects concerned, and contacted them to express interest, only to be told that it is too far away (at least for the time being, though they hope to expand). I think their point is that it is helpful for refugees to have easy access to a wider support network, beyond merely having a roof over their head. This is not to say that something can’t be done in smaller towns and rural communities, which I imagine account for a lot of the old church buildings that you refer to, but it is clearly challenging.

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  2. Dee Post author

    Challenging, yes; impossible, no. I think it’s situations like this that can pull a community together and bring out the best in everyone. If people can stop and think how they would like to be treated if they were in the same situation, solutions can be found.

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