Tuesday, February 07, 2017


I went to a Quaker conference about forced migration at the weekend and I am still processing it. The accommodation was good, the people were friendly, and yet I was hugely relieved to get home afterwards and I've been trying to work out why.

Everyone there was concerned about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, and about the UK government's attitude. When Theresa May was Home Secretary she set out to create a "hostile environment" for them. (her words.) She succeeded. You would be shocked if you knew what happens. One asylum seeker told us her gruelling story and at the end when she was thanked, she said "I hope you enjoyed it." Everyone sighed and said "No, we didn't, but we are very pleased you came to tell us."

I heard about the work being done by Quakers all over the country to help people seeking sanctuary in this country - legal advice, general support, providing money, food, clothing, language teaching, hospitality, accommodation and friendship. 

The feeling was that just as the two world wars were a challenge to Quakers - should they respond by fighting, conscientious objection, serving in the Friends Ambulance Unit, or doing relief work? - how we each help forced migrants is today's biggest challenge. 

What am I going to do to help?

I was thinking about all of this when I messaged the Aging Hippie in California this morning. We agreed how we started each morning depressed after reading the news, and that we'd like to give up reading it, but she said "No, we need to know and to respond if we can. It's a depressing struggle but we have to continue. They are waiting for us to burn out." She's right.

Onward and upward, friends!

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