Refugees greet us with gifts in Manchester
When we visited refugees in Manchester yesterday they greeted us with gifts of crisps, juice and even soup that they saved from their lunch as a thank-you gesture for our support. One elderly lady, who arrived in the UK with her son and his wife, even learned to say “God bless you” in English for our sake. We are there to help them but often it feels like the other way around.
It’s moving to see people who have so little give away so much. They don’t even get daily allowances to buy food anymore and yet they share part of their meals with us. In return, one of our volunteers gave them a box of fresh fruit – refugees don’t always get given nutritious food in hotels and many tell us about how they miss it.
We have been visiting refugees in this hotel on a near-weekly basis with as many donations as possible. Yesterday there was a particularly high demand for shoes: as the weather gets colder and rainier, many of them need warm and protective footwear. We brought lots of new and second-hand pairs with us but all in UK sizing, which is different from what they are used to – but thankfully one of our Iranian friends nominated himself to the role of interpreter and helped us distribute the right pairs to the right people!
For the first time we also brought a box of books from a local charity shop and we were surprised by how much they liked them. One of our volunteers, Maddy, is now in touch with an organisation that may be able to supply English handbooks that refugees can use to practise the language without needing a phone.
But the highlight of the day was being told by one of the families with young children that they might be moved to a house this week. That said, the Home Office have already changed their moving dates a few times so for now they are still stuck in limbo and just hoping for the best. As lovely as it is to visit the 200 people at that hotel, when we come back for another visit next week we hope to see fewer familiar faces there.
To join us in supporting refugees in the UK go to care4calais.org/uk