Volunteers and staff took part in the National Justice and Peace Network Annual Conference ‘Breaking Open The Word’ in Derbyshire. It was quite a journey…
We were invited to run a workshop from JRS and decided to offer one on Gospel Based Attitudes to Welcoming Refugees. A lot of advance planning was needed, which helped structure our contributions. The workshop was led by Liliane and Br Joe, two of our volunteers at the JRS day centre, who were able to share their personal experience of accompanying refugees and making an asylum application in the UK.
Liliane was so nervous in advance that she was shaking, but she was happy while facilitating the workshop. None of the participants would have known she was so nervous in advance! Most of the participants were already interested in the topic and were in fact already accompanying refugees themselves. “It was very encouraging to see their involvement. They wanted affirmation and hope from the workshop”, says Liliane, who was encouraged herself by their response to her story.
The workshop was able to share hope, while pointing out how perilous the asylum process can be for people going through it, and participants left renewed in their will to act positively; some wanting to engage local parishes in awareness raising, or wanting to volunteer in local projects.
The workshop took place in a wider context of the conference which invited those present to reconsider, through worship and through the input of Megan McKenna, to hear the Gospel afresh and to live it out every day.
The conference was a fantastic experience, though we ended on a bittersweet note of losing the bag full of crafts made by refugees in Kenya at Derby station. We hope whoever has them now enjoys them fully! Unfortunately the bag lost is the one we normally use at the day centre to collect sandwiches donated by Pret a Manger… Oops!
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