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Growing solidarity with Syrian refugees

Syrian Kurdish refugees arriving in Turkey. The conflict in Syria has now the world's largest single driver of displacement - Photo: UNHCR / I. Prickett

SHETLAND’S churches have come out to publicly express their solidarity with the hundreds of thousands refugees heading for Europe from their war torn home countries.

Referring to Moses and Abraham, the chair of the Shetland Council of Churches Trust Dr Val Turner said the Christian faith was rooted in stories of migration.

She said local churches are organising a raft of events to help alleviate the current refugee crisis:

  • St Margaret’s Catholic Church will be holding a bake sale in the parish rooms at 11.30am, followed by a car wash between 11.45 am and 2pm, on 27 September;
  • a coffee morning is being organised by Lerwick Christian Aid and will take place on Saturday 10 October in the Methodist Church Hall.
  • an ecumenical prayer vigil will be held at the Salvation Army on 18 October at 3pm.

Dr Turner said that further money for the Refugee Appeal would be raised through the Lerwick Methodist Church’s harvest soup and sandwich lunch.

“This is by no means an exhaustive list of what is going on, but it gives a flavour of how Shetland’s church communities are responding in quiet, manageable, ways to a situation which feels so enormous, unmanageable and just shouldn’t be happening,” she said.

Turner added that trustees wanted to encourage Christians throughout the isles to actively support both local and national initiatives.

“We are delighted that people are supporting the locally based campaign collecting money and supplies to take to Calais and we know that most mainstream denominations have national campaigns which people in Shetland are also contributing to.”

The Catholic Church has also been instructed by the Pope that every parish is to take in and support at least one refugee family. The congregation of St Margaret’s are looking forward to being able to provide assistance by welcoming people to the area.

Meanwhile a concert featuring the likes of energetic Scottish folk-rockers Skerryvore will be held towards the end of October in Lerwick to raise funds for the Syrian refugee crisis.

New group Shetland Supports Refugees, who aim to facilitate the integration of refugees into the local community, is hosting a day-long gig at the Islesburgh Community Centre on Saturday 24 October.

The event – which is scheduled to run from 1pm-9pm, will feature a special appearance from folk festival favourites Skerryvore, who will take time out of a Shetland tour to perform.

Local acts confirmed so far include Lisa Ward, Donald Anderson Band, Trookers, Bluemelts, Full Swing, Gary Cleaver, Annalie Irvine and Deja-Vu.

The gig will be free to attend, with donations due to be taken on the day for the likes of CalAid and the World Food Programme.