QUITE A FEW things to enjoy and take part in throughout the rest of this month, plus a couple of newly-added events in February and March to add to your diaries. Scroll further down for a round-up of what’s happening locally and abroad in support of refugees in need. And last but not least, Community News updates via Liz Waterson.
UPCOMING & NEWLY-ADDED EVENTS – see Events page for more
Saturday 20th February from 11am to 12noon
Coffee concert by UKELELE BAND
(to be confirmed)
• iin aid of Friends of St Mary’s
• entry £5
• homemade cakes and coffee on sale
Friday 4th March
at 6.45pm for a 7.30pm start
St John’s Church, Bridgetown
The Rotary Club of Totnes presents the
PLYMOUTH AREA POLICE CHOIR
in aid of our charities. It is the third time we have done this and it has proved very successful because they are so good!
• tickets £8 per person, includes free refreshments, available from Stephen Evans on 01803 866844
• numbers limited to 150
REFUGEES NEWS SPECIAL FEATURE
Steve and Pauline Hastings have just returned from volunteering with Care4Calais. They worked in C4C‘s warehouse and distributed clothes and food into the camp. As every other volunteer says, the conditions are dire and it is an outrage that we allow people to live in such squalor. There are currently over 6000 people in the Calais Jungle alone.
They took with them 120 euros that the audience donated at the Totnes New Years Eve party, where they sang with the Singing for Refugees group. This was used to buy fresh fruit and veg for refugees. Providing 150 small food parcels cost 1000 euros – the balance of this was paid for personally by Claire Mosely, the C4C‘s founder.
Both the British and French governments refuse to recognise the camp’s existence and consequently aid organisations are not allowed entry. All the help in the camps is freely given by individuals without funding and with the poorest accommodation for themselves.
Let’s hear it for Roxanne Courtney and all the other dedicated volunteers; giving weeks of uninterrupted tireless, smiling and jollying in the drenching rain and cold.
The haunting remains: the images of the poorer, weaker people at the end of the distribution queues – who never get to the front and never receive anything. And yet, they smile and say “thank you”.
• a big thank you to all those people who donated clothes as well as cash, especially Devonly Voices, the Natural Health Centre, Totnes, Donahays Dancers and the Christmas Market shoppers. Your kindness and compassion is helping to alleviate suffering this winter. It’s hard to choose one moment that stands out – maybe the refugee who received a jacket in a distribution queue and returned to the van proffering a £1 coin that he found in a pocket, saying: “I no need.”
• click the photos to view larger
• please continue to support Calais refugees by attending, or better still participating, in the Singing for Refugees group.
• more details from Steve Hastings or Pauline Hastings
Totnes Refugee Medical Response
A group of doctors and locals from the Totnes area who have travelled to Lesbos this month to help the thousands of refugees arriving daily by boat. While there are plenty of clothes arriving for those who survive the crossing, there is a strong need for medical expertise, so the team are volunteering their time to provide direct-on-the-ground help.
Watch a videoclip from 5th January, with the team’s spokesperson Dr Abby Fearon:
Latest update from Dr Abby Fearon, from the team’s fundraising page:
Yesterday we managed to get into the medical supplies warehouse and there are so many donated drugs here – its like an Aladdin’s cave of medication! We are rapidly realising we don’t need to buy more drugs – with the exception of topical creams, very low on those so we have stocked up on many of these; the number of skin complaints we are seeing are huge, from spider bites, skin loss from being immersed in cold water for many hours, to impetigo, psoriasis and many more.
We have already spent quite a bit updating the medical room. We have built a storage area to store all the medication. We have put up a temporary privacy screen so we can examine in privacy. We have ordered proper medical screens as a permanent solution, but as we are on an island they have to be ordered and will arrive a few days after we leave.
Luckily we have met a friendly Swedish doctor who will collect them for us and make sure they go to the medical room. We are also expecting bags of IV fluids and all the paraphernalia that goes with it as when the patients are really sick this is what they need to be stabilised before we transfer them to hospital. We also have ordered more glucometers and a number of other useful bits of kit to update the medical room.
We are finding that the biggest area we can make an impact is making sure they have basic needs met such as shoes on their feet, shelter above their head and someone that cares.
We have spent some money on large quantities of Strepsils – back in the UK this might seem very trivial, but when you consider most of the people that get off those boats are run down and suffering with a sore throat, once they queue to see the doctor and you tell them it will get better on its own, but can do nothing for the symptoms its a bit demoralising.
At least these simple small things will make them feel a little better. Toothbrushes have been another big hit – many have lost everything and haven’t brushed their teeth in weeks; a small thing that makes them feel a bit more human.
• so far nearly 300 people have donated a total of over £8000
• visit the fundraising page to donate and read more news
Update from Beyond Borders, Totnes
Many of you have asked us when asylum seekers and refugees will be arriving to live in the Totnes area. Dartington Hall Trust has informed us that it will take about four weeks to complete preparation of the White House in Foxhole for temporary housing for refugees and asylum seekers – and that a small group, including one of our BBT&D members, is working to plan for it all to be ready for use by the end of February.
Dartington is also negotiating with local government officers and charitable agencies to ensure that their accommodation offer is used in the best way. We at BBT&D are focusing on continuing to build connections between refugees, asylum seekers and local people. Together with Embracing Refugees, we are linking requests for help and volunteers from our website, and are building connections through activities, shared meals, conversation and social events in both Totnes and Plymouth.
On our website we have requests for help, articles and information, and news about upcoming events. We look forward to joining with you in 2016 to help support and welcome refugees and asylum seekers in South Devon.
Love – Debbie, Hilary, Jill, Saif, Wendy and Wilja (Beyond Borders, Totnes)
[see also a previous blog post from last November, with another feature on
refugee support actions]
COMMUNITY NEWS with Liz Waterson
Care Gift Account – update
This is to let you know that from across the team, we have collected just under £2k this year for the Charities that the Care Gift Account supports: the Drop In, the Food Bank, Christians Against Poverty (debt relief)
Some of the money goes into the CGA account and quite a lot goes directly to Mark for weekly expenses (or paid by cheque to RLM Drop In) and won’t show in the CGA account. However, I log every donation in order to keep the handling of money transparent
We are also blessed that we have 3 Standing Orders and we also Gift Aid.
Thank you to everyone for your continued generosity because every week I have food and eggs to give to the Food Bank as well. This too is a result of the generosity of our churches, not just the team but ecumenically.
Also, due to everyone’s generosity we also always have enough bedding and clothing to help out Mark whenever he is in need – and every year we are able to give a generous donation to CAP towards the Christmas Hampers that they make for each of their clients.
Last year, too, in November, I did an extra call for help within a very short time scale for refugees in Calais – ecumenically we were able to send appropriate clothing and a very generous donation to those in need in Calais. The money donated has also been appropriately documented. It was handled via Prof Jill Lewis who is a leading light in Beyond Borders Totnes (scroll up for latest news).
Totnes Street Pastors continues to self-fund so that we don’t take away from other important charities.
If you would like to give a small donation, just put it in a envelope marking it Care Gift Account and drop it the collection box at the back of St Mary’s Church. It will be banked and as soon as we have between £50 and £100, I will contact the charities to see where the money is most needed.
• telephone Liz Waterson on 01803 849345 or email Liz
• read more about the Care Gift Account here
Rough sleeping in Torbay
Details of the Torbay Winter Night Shelter scheme, providing shelter, evening meals and breakfasts – by a simple referral procedure – until the end of February.
• click the image to enlarge it
• or click here to download a printable poster
Tuesday Afternoon House Group
We will meet again on 26th January at 2pm at Anne Binns’ house: 8, Rowsells Lane Bridgetown (by the side of the Lord Nelson pub). We will be starting a new study: Fruitfulness on the Frontline by Mark Greene, looking at the practical ways we can share our faith.
• for more information, ring Anne Binns on 01803 840146
This issue includes:
- Thoughts on January – by The Reverend Jane Frost
- It’s Just a New Year Thought – by the Reverend Cliff Berdinner
- A New Year in Christ – by The Venerable Dr Mark Butchers, Archdeacon of Barnstaple
- Christmas Letter from Former Totnesians – by Pip & Mike Shaill
- The Big Questions – by Barry Dugmore, Exeter Diocesan Mission Enabler
- Suffer Little Children – The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, opens new academy
- Modern Day Mural Brings New Life – art by Jon Minshull
- Common Worship Cartoons – by The Reverend Peter Murphy
- Kids for Kids – by Julian Hall and by Patricia Parker MBE – Founder
- Word for Today: Share Your Life – another extract from UCB’s Word For Today booklet (available free in both churches), see also www.ucb.co.uk
- …and as always, Contact Details, Events, Adverts and Service Times