Refugees Welcome Event 23rd July 2019
A couple of months ago, Lancashire County Council approached Fylde Coast Amnesty Group with a request that we help organise a welcome event for the “soon to arrive “Syrian Refugee families who were to be resettled in Fylde District . They were aware that we had already linked with the Syrian families resettled in Blackpool (2016) and in Fleetwood (2018), which are geographical areas also covered by the catchment area the Fylde Coast Group. The group responded very positively to this request and Julie Bullough, our Treasurer and Regional Secretary, drove it forward with great determination and energy.
The Welcome Event was held in the United Reformed Church Hall in St Anne’s and it was truly inspiring.
The day was “ glued together “ by amazing food prepared by the Syrian families from Blackpool and by a local drumming group ( Tidal Beats ) who brought everybody together to create music, and sing .
The event was opened by Norah Lynam who announced, via Mustafa the interpreter, that the local Islamic community were going to donate TVs to the new families. This was greeted with much smiling and clapping. The local Imam gave a warm welcome and the Deputy Mayor was equally gracious and genuine in his welcome.
During the course of the afternoon there were very short welcomes via presentations from local services e.g. ESOL course tutors, Cubs, YMCA, AFC Fylde Football Club, all inviting the families to join them. There was also a welcome from one of the schools which 2 of the Syrian teenagers will attend. There were gifts for the families including handmade gifts from the cubs and starter packs for the high school students and ‘gear’ from AFC Fylde.
Home Start Blackpool provided ongoing entertainment and crafts for the many children present which cut across all language and age divides. Four interpreters were actively present throughout - Kurdish and Arabic.
The smiles and engagement from people from such different cultures and life experiences were humbling.
The event ended with Syrian and Kurdish dancing bringing all the resettled families together across the 3 communities where they have been located and bringing smiles and laughter to tired and forlorn faces.
It is hard to describe a more inspiring day and a wonderful realisation of Amnesty’s ‘I Welcome Refugees’ campaign. Many, many thanks to everybody who contributed and helped to organise. Thanks especially to the wonderful Syrian ladies who prepared the most delicious food.
It was a very successful day and VERY hot.