Dear Andrew Jones
As next week is Sanctuary Week, I would like to celebrate the families who have sought sanctuary in Harrogate and Knaresborough, escaping war and persecution from Syria, Iraq, and the Sudan.
They have persevered with their English classes throughout lockdown via Zoom either from Harrogate College or their ESOL teachers. One man volunteered delivery of medicines and food to his local community, one woman sewed scrubs for hospitals and schools and several women made reusable sanitary wear intended for African schools .
One woman has passed her preliminaries to become a classroom assistant, two women aim to be either a hairdresser or beautician, another woman is a fulltime school cleaner, and she also volunteers at COGs in Knaresborough.
A Kurdish man had his own catering business until lockdown (‘Kurdish Kitchen’) and now works fulltime in the grammar school kitchen.
We have a school caretaker, a plasterer, a car mechanic, and a barber. 50% of the men have their own transport now and not to be outdone, several women want to take their driving test!
An articulate 15-year-old has been an ambassador for refugees, presenting talks in the area and on Zoom. Her ambition now is to become a lawyer and I am sure she will achieve this.
When walking along Abbey Road last Saturday with a Sudanese refugee and her daughter, the mother looked at the daffodils and started telling me about William Wordsworth, next about William Caxton the printer! I was amazed. She is so keen to absorb English culture.
I was in Asda with one of my sons when we bumped into the Kurdish chef. I introduced them and my son asked, ‘What’s it like living in Harrogate?’ His reply? ‘Safe!’
That sums up ‘sanctuary’.
June 14th-19th is Refugee Week. Harrogate District of Sanctuary will be taking over the exhibition space at St. Peters Church. We hope that you can pop in and let’s remember
‘There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker’