Hundreds of orange hearts show strength of support and welcome for refugees in Calderdale

Hundreds of orange hearts, all with warm welcome messages, were on show at a celebration of Calderdale’s support for people seeking sanctuary.

By sarah fitton
Thursday, 21st October 2021, 2:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 2:42 pm
Some of the people at the event at The Orange Box on Tuesday
Some of the people at the event at The Orange Box on Tuesday

Tuesday night's event at Orange Box in Halifax, organised by the teams at St Augustine’s Centre and Project Challenge, included talks by people leading the way in providing support for refugees and asylum seekers.

Many of the messages on display were written by local school children.

One of those speaking at the event was a man who has come to the borough with his wife from El Salvador.

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He said they initially felt lost being in a strange new country but the welcome they have received from St Augustine's and Calderdale residents has been a huge help, and he and his wife now volunteer for St Augustine's.

He explained that small acts can help make people feel welcome.

"It can be explaining how the bins work and what each colour is for," he said. "Or just a smile or a 'good morning'. That is what makes us feel we matter and we are important in this community and town."

St Augustine’s Centre Manager Sara Robinson said: “It was a very special event, packed with people interested to learn more, hundreds of orange hearts with messages of welcome from local school children, great speeches and delicious food from around the world.

"At St Augustine's we are humbled every day by the patience and resilience of people we work with who have often suffered unimaginable situations.

"The Government’s Borders Bill will make life even tougher for people fleeing war and persecution and more inefficient for the staff processing asylum claims. They have mis-judged the public mood badly.

"What we saw on Tuesday night was a fraction of the goodwill in Calderdale towards people seeking sanctuary.

"Britain has welcomed people from across the world for centuries - its who we are, and we are committed to growing that spirit of welcome, and celebrating the contribution people seeking sanctuary make to our valley.

"Our thanks to the young people and staff at Project Challenge and Orange Box for making it all possible."