Several months ago we launched our ‘Christmas Card’ appeal for the fourth year running, asking supporters to send cards bearing messages of solidarity to those we accompany. Over the Christmas period feelings of isolation and loneliness inevitably worsen as our refugee friends feel even further removed from their families and loved ones. This year in particular has been very challenging for us all – but for our destitute friends in the community who face homelessness, and our friends held indefinitely in immigration detention, it has been a year of added isolation, trauma and fear attached to a pandemic.
That’s why this year, we extended our appeal requesting cards for every single person we support, not just those held in detention. We are extremely pleased to say that we have had a very generous response, receiving nearly 900 Christmas cards. Thank you! Thank you to all of you who spent time and took great care to write hopeful messages of solidarity for our friends during this Christmas season. Thanks to your generosity we have received enough cards to distribute among those who will be separated from family, and their community at Heathrow Immigration Removal Centres, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth. As well as these, we have been able to distribute one card to every single refugee who will receive an emergency food parcel from JRS UK this Christmas.
Thanking those who took part in our appeal, Detention Outreach Manager Naomi said:
“Distributing handwritten cards from our supporters has been a really touching part of our work this Christmas. Around this time of year it is particularly difficult to be separated from friends and family – thanks to the hundreds of generous cards we received, those we support in detention and in the wider community will know that they are not forgotten. It is difficult to express how frightening and isolating it can feel being held indefinitely in prison-like conditions during what should be a time of celebration. We see the toll it takes on our friends’ mental and physical health. The messages in these cards have offered a glimpse of hope in a difficult time, and will be a real source of encouragement for those we encounter in detention. We are sure this show of solidarity and support will stay with them for a long time.”
We would like to say a special thanks to those who sent in large bundles of cards – including the Sisters of St Andrew, the FCJ sisters and Fr Denis Blackledge SJ at the Jesuit parish of St.Francis Xavier in Liverpool. All of you who donated your time and effort – from religious communities, to families, volunteers and supporters – have brought joy to the JRS community this Christmas.