Local Response

July 24: Refugee Day Out – A thank you from Tom Clay

Just a note of huge thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped  and met and greeted on the Refugee Day Out on Saturday, and to the Mosque for putting on such an amazing BBQ and so generous gifts, and to everyone who contributed but couldn’t be there on the day.

Every guest we spoke to had a great time, despite the weather.

Father Uchenna from Revive UK in Manchester has sent his special thanks, saying:

“Hello Tom,
Thanks for a fantastic Refugee day out …..
 
For the refugees and asylum community, and our Revive team you hosted, that was no doubt the highlight of our year.  It was fun, engaging and exciting, despite the rain.  
 
Thanks for putting this together. It was professionally planned and delivered.
This year’s Day Out far outclassed that of 2016. 
 
We are grateful to the Muslim community who took us as one of their own following your example. The children’s presents and gift vouchers from the Clitheroe Mosque were tangible gesture of love and support. For many who spoke to me, the gesture from the Mosque reawakened their belief in humanity and gave them reason to hope and trust again.
 
Thanks for your efforts and the success of the event.
Thanks to the army of volunteers you brought together. They gave their best and really connected well with the children.
 
I am glad that we have established this as an annual event, and almost everyone was asking for the date for next year, 2018.
 
God bless you.”

The Clitheroe Advertiser has also published a very positive front page article on the day which can be found at:

http://www.clitheroeadvertiser.co.uk/news/fun-filled-day-out-helps-refugees-smile-again-1-8656446 or a newsagent near you!

July 15 2017: Refugee Day Out

When Tom and Kathryn Clay first saw the news of Alan Kurdi, the 3 year old refugee boy washed up on the beach, their first thought was “What can we do?” After weeks of praying into this question, they set out to make a difference to the lives of the many refugees and asylum seekers who are currently residing in the North West.

What follows is a report of the second Refugee Day Out held in Clitheroe last weekend.

Tom said “we heard that the refugees in Manchester don’t see a lot of countryside, and we thought what better way to make them feel welcome than to bring them out to the British countryside”… and that’s just what they did.

On Saturday the 15th May 2017, one hundred and twenty Refugees and Asylum seekers from around Manchester and Burnley arrived in Clitheroe for a fun day of socialising and new experiences. This project was a humanitarian focused initiative, centred on the basic principles of sharing and fellowship. The day was led by the Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Valley (the Catholic Communities of Clitheroe, Sabden & Dunsop Bridge who all helped to raise over £1100 prior to the event), but held in collaboration with the Manchester based humanitarian charity Revive, who organised the transport, the local Christian Churches and the Clitheroe Mosque community who provided a bountiful banquet for everyone and were received with the utmost appreciation. Eight-year-old Ali stopped me to say “write this down: ‘The food was six stars!’”. 

As well as Revive, the partnership project employed the help of Caritas Diocese of Salford, represented by the CEO, Mark Wiggin, who gave an insight to the project on behalf of Caritas Salford. “Bringing people together and showing that behind the different languages and customs we are all one is a very important thing to do. The different communities that make up our land have shown how we can enjoy being together and learning from one another. The Muslim community in particular have been brilliant and their friendship is greatly appreciated.”

The day’s itinerary included a tour of Clitheroe Castle and Museum who kindly welcomed the visitors and their families. It was such a humbling and wonderful experience to see the many children there taking such delight at the thought of a real castle and exploring the various exhibition rooms of the old museum: a resource many of us who have it so often take for granted. Not even the grey drizzle could dampen the spirit of the day, especially with a display of Morris dancing, a revelation to some of our visitors and a delightful local experience that was filmed and captured by many.

Meanwhile, some of the group had chosen the circular countryside walk along our beautiful River Ribble to Grindleton, led by the parish priest of Our Lady of the Valley, Mgr John Corcoran, whilst the rest travelled back to the parish hall. Drinks were distributed on their arrival via the school gardens as they made their way up to the hall which had been set up by the many volunteers for the day. Once everyone had arrived, The Mayor of Clitheroe Maureen Fenton officially opened proceedings. She was greeted with flowers by 5 year old Eimaan who said “This is the best day of my life”.

Food was prepared and served by members of the local Mosque community and many other helpers who joined them. When questioned about the day, the Imam responded “I think this has been a brilliant show of unity, and it really shows that people coming together can be a very powerful force in helping those less fortunate”. Anglican Reverend Andy Froud also spoke in relation to the Mosque’s contribution “all faiths working together but especially being fed together is a really inspiring thing to witness.” The food served can only be described as an amazing feat of engineering; dish after dish of mouth-watering and lovingly prepared meals. As well as organised games for the children, the emergence of the Mr Whippy ice cream van was the icing on the cake – a novelty which sparked much excitement from all.

At about 2:30, after all the refugee children had received presents provided by the local Muslim community everyone boarded the coaches once more and were taken over Pendle hill to St Mary’s Catholic Church in Sabden. There they were once again warmly welcomed with a wonderful spread of tea and cakes and spent the rest of the day in the midst of the rural Lancashire countryside which surrounds the church hall.

The success with which this day was executed speaks only of the effort that so many put in months in advance and the attraction to be involved in an occasion that is so rooted in love for our brothers and sisters. Witnessing the spectacle that was the Refugee Day Out was a strong but refreshing reminder of the need for fellowship and care in everyone’s lives.

Kathryn and Tom Clay have also initiated the very successful “Refugee-Come-Dine-with-Me’ scheme; one which encourages local families to open their homes and invite refugee families to share a meal and the hospitality of a home.

January 19 2017

Dianne has now moved back to Longridge with her daughter Natalie which gives her the space and independence she deserves.   Her reporting centre changed from Liverpool to Blackburn will now be changed to Preston.  These things can be a little complicated but now everything is sorted out.  Thanks to everyone who has so far helped Dianne with transport and money donations though it could be some time before we hear the result of the judicial review and until then at least Dianne will receive no public funds.

If you haven’t already, see the recent which was published on January 12.

 

December 20 2016

Dear all,

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to wish all my supporters much joy and happiness over the festive period.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all my supporters for your contribution towards my release from Yarl’s Wood and my current situation, whereby I am once again safe in the north of England, reunited with my daughter and able to continue my campaign to secure a future for us both.

I was extremely concerned about the situation of the other detainees in Yarl’s Wood, because the majority of them, as it was in my case, are unfairly detained. The treatment of detainees there is inhumane. People mysteriously disappear from there all the time – they come in the night, and in the morning they are no longer there. I am determined to continue fighting for the rights of all those who are unfairly treated and who lack a voice to defend themselves.

I could never have imagined how much I was going to miss my daughter while in Yarl’s Wood.  The thought of not being able to be there for my daughter was one of the most turbulent periods of my life.  I was so delighted to see my daughter after almost 3 weeks and it was such a relief to be with her and talk about my experience.

At this moment I would like to let you, my supporters know that my legal fight is not over yet until I am given my status in this country.

Please contact admin@rapar.org.uk if you want to get involved.

Many thanks,

Dianne Ngoza

December 19 2016

Thank you to those who took Dianne to the reporting centre in Liverpool yesterday and last Monday.  The venue has now changed to Blackburn which will things a lot easier.

December 6 2016

Dianne was finally released on bail for Yarl’s Wood pending an appeal against her removal to Zambia.  We expect the appeal will take three months to come to court during which time conditions of her bail dictate that she must live at Tom and Kathryn Clay’s house and she must report to a Home Office reporting centre each Monday.

PRESS RELEASE

DIANNE NGOZA RELEASED FROM YARL’S WOOD

Judge cites her strong community links

Dianne Ngoza will be released from Yarl’s Wood detention centre today (Tuesday).

She was granted bail by an immigration judge at the Court at Yarl’s Wood this morning and will be travelling back to the North West later today. Dianne will be attending the RAPAR annual meeting at Friends’ Meeting House in Manchester tonight so she can thank supporters personally.
Dianne said: “At least now I can go home and eat my vegan food I’m so grateful.  Thank you so much to all my supporters. I am profoundly touched by your kindness.”

Dianne has friends and supporters throughout the North West.

Kathryn Clay of Barrow, Lancs, who was in court today, says: “The judge did a very thorough and fair assessment of the case and concluded that she should be released on bail and I am delighted. This evening we will be enjoying a celebration in our home with Dianne and her daughter.”
Also in court was Anthony Brown from Clitheroe who says:  “It’s a very heartwarming decision . I was shocked by how frail she was and struck by how strong she is despite that.”

At the hearing today, it was argued that the initial reasons for detaining her were no longer valid.  The judge found that removal was not imminent and that Dianne poses no risk of absconding .

Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, who was also in court said: “The judge specifically remarked on Dianne’s strong ties to the community and he made a special mention of the petition Dianne’s many supporters have signed.”

December 5 2016

On the day before her bail hearing Dianne penned this note of thanks and appreciation to her supporters.

Dear Friends,

 I would like to extend my gratitude for all your support at this moment in my life.  I am profoundly humbled and touched by your compassion and I will never forget everything that you are doing for the rest of my life.  I feel so privileged to have people like you to empower me when the tide seems to be against me.  I feel so strong and peaceful because of all of you.  My life has changed so much during the past few months and I have been blown away by your courage.

 Thank you once again and God bless you.

 Yours Sincerely,

Dianne

November 30 2016

DIANNE NGOZA’S SOLICITOR LODGES JUDICIAL REVIEW PROCEEDINGS TO STOP FURTHER ATTEMPTS TO REMOVE HER

PRESS RELEASE
DIANNE NGOZA’S UNLAWFUL REMOVAL FROM UK STOPPEDSolicitor lodges judicial review proceedings to prevent further attempts to remove her

Dianne Ngoza was not unlawfully removed from the UK today. And, this afternoon, her solicitor Mervyn Cross lodged judicial review proceedings to prevent any further attempts to remove her.This morning, Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell was told that the Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill would cancel the removal instructions so Dianne‘s case could be considered. But the Home Office failed to communicate this to Dianne or her solicitorIt left Mr Cross with no option other than to lodge judicial review proceedings to challenge Dianne‘s removal from the UK while she had an application with the Home Office pending. Otherwise there would have been nothing to prevent the Home Office from making further attempts to remove her from the UK.Mr Cross said: “It was not our intention to lodge litigation but it has been almost a week now that we have been trying to communicate with the Home Office, simply to confirm that they would stop Dianne‘s flight because she had a valid application pending.“However, they failed to respond, not just to our communication but in their statutory obligation to respond when we notified them of our intention to lodge court proceedings. At the eleventh hour, we have now issued judicial review proceedings which prevent the Home Office from removing her. In our opinion, this is a waste of public funds: all they needed to do was simply communicate with us.“We will now be asking for Dianne‘s immediate release from detention and, if that is not forthcoming, there is a bail application listed for the 6th December when we will be asking a judge for her immediate release.”Speaking from Yarl’s Wood, Dianne said: “It’s been the longest day for me since I came to England. I am overwhelmed with what has happened today. At least I can breathe for a moment until the fight is over. I want to be at home and I need a decent meal.”RAPAR would like to thank Dianne‘s supporters throughout Greater Manchester, the UK and Europe for the emails they have sent to the Immigration Minister, the Home Secretary and Kenya Airways about the unlawful attempt to remove Dianne from the UK.One of the people who contacted Kenya Airways, 24 year old Remi Graves, of Ladbrooke Grove, London, said: “My grandmother was a nurse from Ghana who came to live and work in UK in the mid fifties and it sickens me to think how our family might have been ripped apart by similar reprehensible actions from our UK Government.”Thanks also to Lucy Powell for raising the case directly with the Immigration Minister and other Members of Parliament who offered their support to Lucy Powell.Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, said: “Through sustained, detailed and collective action Dianne, and the very many organisations and individuals who have come together to challenge this unlawful act by the Home Office, have succeeded in stopping the State from forcing this woman onto a plane and deporting her to Zambia today.“Our struggle continues unabated until, firstly, Dianne is released from detention in Yarl’s Wood and reunited with her family and friends in Manchester and Lancashire and, secondly, her right to live and work safely her in the UK is secured.“To date, in this case, the actions of the Home Office, in their entirety,  have been simply appalling.  When the State makes laws and rules, and then itself attempts to break those laws and transgress those rules, there is no reason for any of us, the people from the UK and the people who have come here as refugees or migrants, to believe that we are safe in their hands. Dianne is safe today because people have taken clear collective action.”

November 16 2016

A large local contingent and a much larger contingent of people from charities supporting Dianne amassed outside the Home Office building.  We had hoped she would be released but she was taken away.

RAPAR, the main charity supporting her have made another appeal with strong new evidence and we are hoping that the RAPAR solicitor will be successful in securing her release on bail pending another hearing,

Until quite late last night we didn’t know where Dianne was as RAPAR had been told she had been taken to Manchester but she never arrived.
The most up to date information came in last night at 11.40 pm:  Dianne is in Yarls Wood Detention Centre just outside Bedford.  She can be contacted on 07440 488604.  She is happy for her mobile number to be shared with all supporters.  So far she has been given two apples to eat.  They [had] told her they were taking her to Pennine House. She has not yet been allocated a bed”.
You can get full information of what happened in Manchester from the two stories in the  Sheffield Starhttp://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=3565  and from the RAPAR website http://www.rapar.org.uk/ and its Facebook which will add updates.
 November 12 2016
Joe Howson says: Dianne‘s appeal to stay in the UK on humanitarian grounds has been refused by the Home office. She now faces deportation. On Wednesday 16th November she has to present herself at the Home Office on Dallas Road in Manchester at 10. 00 am. On that day Dianne may be detained and faces deportation. A number of organisations that have been supporting Dianne will accompany her to Dallas Road. We are also going to stand in solidarity with Dianne.”

August 5 2016

 A Community Effort to House Two Asylum Seekers in Longridge

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Dianne and Natalie Ngoza

Everyday can be the beginning of a new life. It is definitely the case with Dianne and the Longridge community.

Our relationship with Dianne began at the Welcoming Communities – Churches responding to Refugees and Asylum Seekers Conference at the Cathedral Centre, Salford, in February 2016.  She came as a volunteer with REVIVE, a charity that supports refugees and asylum seekers.

She stunned all at the conference when she spoke with passion about the plight of asylum seekers and her own experience in the UK.

Dianne fled the Congo with her father to Zambia when she was six and later to South Africa where she had a good living until once again she had no option but to leave.  She arrived in England 17 year ago and has lived with the insecurity of the asylum system.

Joe Howson spotted her at the conference, and recognised her voice as ideal for the Lee House his mobile refugee exhibition soundtrack.  Dianne’s voiceover narrator role was very genuine as only someone with her experience could.  The exhibition was launched in June 2016 at St Cecilia’s secondary school, Longridge.

Shortly after that, we learned that Dianne had once again become homeless and destitute. REVIVE and CARITAS, Salford Diocese, worked together to find her temporary accommodation at a MEDAILLE TRUST safe house until the end of July. Since this August, the Longridge Catholic community has offered welcome and accommodation to Dianne and her daughter, Nathalie, as one of their own.

It is so much easier to respond to the needs of those we have personal experience of and the hearts of so many people have gone out to Dianne and Natalie.  Yet Dianne and Natalie are just two of many who are in dire straits because of the difficulties they face navigating through the intricacies and impasses of the asylum system in the UK.

Joe Howson approached his Parish priest, Fr Chinnery, who had a house rented out to someone who was shortly leaving. Fr Chinnery offered the accommodation to Dianne and Natalie. We are glad that their most urgent and basic needs have been met, at least in the short term.

But this story isn’t just about Dianne and Natalie, it’s about people and communities responding to the needs of others.  First, it was REVIVE, CARITAS and the MEDAILLE, and then the house in Longridge wasn’t ready so a couple put Dianne and Natalie up for the interim whilst a team of volunteers including three Iranian refugees currently living in Accrington went to work.  Someone provided a lift for the three refugees and somebody else arranged a simple lunch.

The team from Lee House made a full assessment of what the house needed – painting, repairs and furnishing and then parishioners from St Mary’s Chipping, St Wilfrid’s Longridge, St Peter & Paul Ribchester and Alston Lane parishes all rolled up their sleeves to get the house ready. A neighbour was happy for Dianne and Natalie to use their washing machine.  Regular parcels of food are being arranged from the Food Bank and support was rallied from Churches Together

Fr Chinnery will need help with council tax, water and electricity but the community will no doubt rise to the occasion.

When people have nothing it takes a lot to provide them with everything they need but with a collective effort it becomes manageable.  As more refugees seek refuge in Lancashire they will need our support.  Many of them will have government funded accommodation and allowances and their main need will be a welcoming community.  This story demonstrates that we do indeed have that welcoming community.

July 23 2016

DAY OUT A SUCCESS FOR REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

Saturday 23rd of July saw Our Lady of the Valley parishioners, people from other Clitheroe Churches, and members of the Clitheroe Mosque hosting a day out for 38 refugees and asylum seekers.  The asylum and refugee community with Revive came from Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Kosovo.  The organizing team are grateful to everyone for their financial support, practical help, and goodwill. The weather was kind, and everyone had a good time. At Edisford Bridge the children paddled and played games, learnt how to cook sausages and make bracelets. A bagpiper turned up to entertain, and our guests were keen to have their pictures taken with him. Later they played diamond cricket on St. Michael and St. John’s school field. Father John lead a walk along the River Ribble for a small group of adults, and the Mosque put on a delicious BBQ. Later in the afternoon, everyone headed to Sabden (by the Nick o’ Pendle to take in the views) for a delicious traditional cream tea, put on by Sabden parishioners. We learned that our love of cream cakes was something we all had in common! It was particularly moving to see the children having so much fun: one 8-year-old lad told me it was the best day since he had left home!

The Manager for Revive, the Charity we have been working with in Manchester, has written to say: “I wish to thank you again for the great Day Out you organised for the refugee and asylum community at Revive. It’s a fantastic experience for all. The opportunity to see the beautiful country side of Clitheroe; the opportunity to experience the generosity/ hospitality and welcome of your Catholic Parishes and Muslim community were awesome and inspiring. It was bold and courageous of you to lead and drive this amazing outreach project to the refugee and asylum community. Everyone was gushing with praise and admiration for you and your team. Many declared the day out as one of the best days of their lives. And the question from everyone has been: Can we do this again, regularly? I thought we could and should. It is a worthwhile event and a win for all, hence I wish we book it in again in our calendar for 2017 (22nd July). What do you think? Warm regards to the Christian Parishes and the Muslim community at Clitheroe for making our day. Thanks and God bless. Uchenna Odenigbo Just over £1,000 was raised towards the day, and so there are sufficient funds left over in Revive’s account to kick-start a similar event next year. We should give it a go!”

The walk

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The Picnic

The Cream Tea