Welcoming the Stranger

Truro Community Refugee Support (TCRS)

Lesley Chandler writes:

Here is a story for Christmas.

I was fortunate enough the other week to attend the Cornwall Diversity Food Festival in Truro where the food was copious and divine.  I began to talk with Diana Miners about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers and she told me how impressed she had been by the efforts of Falmouth and Penryn Welcomes Refugees in establishing funds, accommodation and the entire infrastructure required to welcome a refugee families into the community under the Community Sponsorship scheme.

Since Covid struck in January 2020 she had begun to meet up on Zoom with others who were setting up Hendra Community Group and the group soon agreed that it would be great to welcome a family to Hendra. Various ‘contacting of contacts’ followed and it felt  the right and positive thing to do in the current political climate during lockdowns.

Realising this might be too big for the Hendra Group, they spread their net wider. Diana and her husband contracted Covid but when recovered, considered a hybrid scheme with the Council. With the backing of CHARIS and CRRN they plodded on gathering throughout what Diana describes as a delightful group of committed people from all the areas required of community sponsorship which leaves the only hurdles of fundraising and accommodation.  They have a constitution, a bank account and a GoFundMe page.  If like many, you shop on line then you might consider signing up with Easyfundraising which gets retailers such as Boots, Curries, Argos  plus thousands of others to make a small donation to a named charity.  This initiative has already raised millions for many charities.  To raise money so far this group organised sponsored walks during Refugee Week, baked and sold cakes, made CHAOS TV appearances and broadcast on the radio channel ‘Voice of Islam’.  Recently joined by a lively and enthusiastic American lady called Victoria funds have increased to £3000. The group comprises  befrienders, translators, a GP, retired teachers, an Oxfam employee working in the Middle East and a host of other experts and volunteers.

They hope to make £4000 by Christmas and intend to contact local churches and make  links with Truro secondary schools.  Not without ambition, they would like to welcome a family in the spring or summer of 2022.

In the spirit of interconnectedness, of love human and divine is there any small or large way that you, the reader could help in this mission to provide a home for refugees fleeing war, hunger and violence? Money and accommodation are needed to ensure this but spreading the word and creative thinking will help shorten the journey.

Hopefully TCRS will soon be half way there with the fund-raising – philanthropic landlords and ladies are out there and as Diana encourages us all to give or put our thinking caps on ‘everything is possible’.

Please consider a Christmas collection/donation if you can and keep a lookout for  philanthropic landladies/lords this Christmas…

Thank you for reading….

Lesley Chandler (Quaker representative for Churches Together in Cornwall)

Contact TCRS by emailing diana.miners@cornwall.gov.uk

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