Asylum Seekers Enjoy Seaside Visit

Fr Pat Keogh and several Whitby parishioners hosted a visit by 27 asylum seekers from Teeside on Saturday 8 July 2023. The age of the visitors ranged from 8 months to over-65, and all have sought asylum here from countries like Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two had only arrived here in the last few weeks and all are housed in temporary hostels with around 40 others, often for many years.

The day included snacks, beverages and playtime on arrival, followed by a day out in Whitby. Most of the younger visitors opted for the paddling pool, go-karts and ice cream, while many of the adults went a walk around the town, checked out some of the charity shops and had a short boat trip around the harbour. The showery weather, which had also disrupted Wimbledon and the third test at Headingley that day, did not deter the group from having a great day out.

The weather was soon forgotten as, on their return to the Parish Hall, there was curry, rice, hot chocolate and more snacks waiting for them. All the adults were presented with gift bags of toiletries and food items to take back with them, and a few of them tried on the donated clothes and went back with new outfits.

The visitors were very grateful and many of them left “thank you” notes. One wrote: “Thank you so much for everything you have offered us, from the food stuff, clothes and emotional support. I came in with a heavy heart, very sad and depressed but you gave me a lighter heart. Thank you so much, you have all truly been a blessing.” Another said: “When I started out today I was full of worries. Slowly over the day the burdens have been lifted and I have felt lighter, then the rain came and just washed all those worries away.”

Thanks must go to all the Whitby and Sleights parishioners, as well as the Goathland community, other faith communities and friends of no faith for their donations and time spent preparing for the day and great organisation by parish members and friends & their local team for making the visitor’s day so varied and joyful. Also many thanks to Mary Frankland for her help and advice in organising the event, and her selfless support to asylum seekers in the Diocese of Middlesbrough over many years.

The next Asylum Seekers event will be on Saturday 2nd September.

Liz Atkinson

Tel: 07810 644140


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