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On Saturday Week 12, 150 people came together at a Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary event to welcome refugees and asylum seekers into the community. SCAN has spoken to campaign group Red Rose Refugees and Will Hedley, LUSU President, to find out if they have any plans to help out.
The evening was opened by Lancaster Councillor Jon Barry who welcomed the newly arrived asylum seekers and the attendees. 50 people held up banners which read in Arabic ‘Welcome to Lancaster’ and there was also a rainbow coloured banner which read ‘Escape to Safety’.
They also held a minute’s silence in memory of those who have died or are suffering in conflicts in Syria and other countries.
Speaking exclusively to SCAN, Red Rose Refugees says that they have “been meeting with FTOs in LUSU and members of City of Sanctuary” to try to begin talks where they can arrange helping the refugees moving into the area. They would also like to “give refuges access to education” because it is something that they feel is a right for all.
Red Rose Refugees hope that in the future Lancaster University will be able to “follow in the footsteps of many other UK universities and welcome refugees, offering scholarships and waving fees to allow them to study here”.
They told SCAN that “it’s a delight to see the ongoing work of City of Sanctuary along with members of the local community who have been putting on events and activities to welcome the eight asylum seekers that have already been relocated to Lancaster”.
Will Hedley, LUSU President, also spoke to SCAN about the benefits of welcoming refugees to the university. Hedley feels that it would benefit “not only to the refugees themselves, but also to the students, University, and the local community”. He continued by saying he believes that “it reinforces that Lancaster is a place of respect, tolerance and community, and to reach out to this community at a time when refugees are just as often criticised as welcomed can do an enormous amount of good”.
Red Rose Refugees “will be creating a petition soon and hope to use it to echo the already positive support we have received from Lancaster students”. They hope that this will help to dispel the myths around refugees and encourage the university to take moral responsibility.
Hedley has been working with the university and campaign groups to try to find a way to help the refugees but told SCAN that the planning is in its infancy and so he cannot divulge any of the details as of yet.
Looking to the future Red Rose Refugees say that they will “continue to offer students opportunities to get involved in helping out and befriending asylum seekers as they arrive in Lancaster, whilst pushing our campaign to show the university that students at Lancaster care and want to welcome refugees as fellow students”.
Red Rose Refugees invite students and staff to follow their social media for updates on the campaign, you can find them on their Facebook page: facebook.com/redroserefugees and their twitter account: twitter.com/redroserefugees