ALMOST 200 people gathered at St Stephen’s Church on Tuesday when the Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcomes Refugees Committee hosted a public meeting about helping new arrivals, writes Anu Shukla.
Mayor of Redditch Coun Joe Baker made a profound opening speech.
He later told the Standard: “Sometimes we must look outside our own cocoon, open our hearts to humanity and think – if it was me, my mother or my child, I hope and pray someone will offer their hand of help and friendship to me too.”
He added: “People react to kindness and when they are shown it, they will do the same. We build strength through compassion.”
Coun Baker said the meeting was important to emphasise to residents the refugees will be settled in the town without costing the tax payer.
BWR founding member Dr John Cochrane said: “All of humanity is one family and it is our duty, our privilege, to help all in need.” Dr Cochrane then welcomed Syrian survivor, Abdul Nasser – one of the first refugees to arrive in the UK with his daughter.
With the aid of a translator, Abdul shared his tragic story with the audience.
He said his parents were killed in Syria and he does not know where the rest of his family are.
Members of the audience interacted with Abdul and told him he was welcome.
Standard reporter Anu Shukla also delivered a presentation about her experience at the refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, highlighting the massive effort of British volunteers in France.
BRWR vice chairman Naeem Arif later gave an emotional speech about the suffering of child refugees in Syria before presenting a film which documented their survival amidst the debri of bombs.
Several local residents later approached reporter Anu Shukla to express their inspiration to volunteer at the French camps.