More than 80 attend public meeting to see how groups in East Northants can help refugees

East Northants Faith Group held a meeting in Rushden to discuss ways in which people and groups in the area can help refugees
East Northants Faith Group held a meeting in Rushden to discuss ways in which people and groups in the area can help refugees

Dozens of people attended a meeting to discuss ways in which groups, authorities and individuals in East Northamptonshire can help and support refugees.

More than 80 people went to the meeting organised by East Northants Faith Group (ENFG) on Monday night at the Full Gospel Church in Rushden.

There are various ways in which people can help

There are various ways in which people can help

The meeting, led by ENFG’s chairman of trustees the Revd Mark Lees, provided a forum for people from churches, groups and authorities to talk about the refugees coming to the UK following the crisis in Syria and how they may be able to support them in East Northants.

The Revd Lees said: “We want your help, we need your support to do the right thing for these refugees.”

He said Rushden helped refugees from Belgium 100 years ago, and he wanted the town and surrounding areas to show the same compassion to those in need again.

He added: “If we could do something 100 years ago, why can’t we do something today?

We need your support to do the right thing for these refugees

The Revd Mark Lees

“Why can’t we play our part in the national scene and the international scene?

“But we are not do-gooders, we are doing it because it is the right thing to do.”

He said key areas of help include accommodation, education, health, well-being and social care, language and translation support, social, spiritual and cultural issues and administration, as well as general offers of finance, supplies, help and assistance.

People were asked to sign up for anything they could offer either as an individual or an organisation, and then a co-ordination team will be put in place to oversee and manage the offers.

Despite the meeting being organised following the crisis in Syria, the Revd Lees said there are ‘no borders or boundaries’ and they would like to help as many people as possible, wherever they have come from.

As well as the efforts by ENFG to help refugees, several other groups are trying to offer support.

St Peter’s Church in Irthlingborough is holding a service at 3pm on Sunday, October 25, to raise funds and other aid to send to the Syrian refugees.

Christians in Rushden have recently set up the Facebook group, Christians for Calais, as a way of encouraging and co-ordinating prayer and action to support the refugees there.

East Northants Council also wants to hear from anyone who could offer housing.

A statement from the council said: “Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the UK will be accepting 20,000 refugees over the next five years, local authorities are waiting for guidance from the Government on the next stage.

“In the meantime we are encouraging residents who would like to offer housing to email customerservices@east-northamptonshire.gov.uk with their contact details.

“We will then contact them directly when new information is available.

“We also suggest that residents who want to show support now should use a search engine to find local groups who are raising money and collecting clothing on behalf of the refugees.”

Anyone who was unable to attend the meeting but would like to help can go to http://enfg.org.uk/ for more information or send an email to enfaithgroup@aol.com.