“Refugee Crisis a Disgrace” says Cardinal Nichols

Cardinal Nichols
Cardinal Nichols

On the refugee crisis, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said yesterday, “This a disgrace. That we are letting people die and seeing dead bodies on the beaches, when together Europe is such a wealthy place. We should be able to fashion a short-term response, not just a long-term response”.

 “It is no longer an abstract problem of people on the scrounge. It’s not. It’s people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children. What is screaming out is the human tragedy of this problem, to which we can be more generous.”

In Manchester the problem is real and present: in the past few days refugees from Syria and other countries have been calling in, often with young children, to the Manchester Central foodbank run by the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy, seeking a response to their short-term needs.

While food banks nationally operate on a voucher referral system obtained through government or third sector agencies, acute hunger for you and your family dictates the need to seek immediate help. Two Syrian families arrived at the chaplaincy’s foodbank last week without referrals.

The first was a refugee who was a qualified doctor with children who had sought asylum but whose case was “stuck in the asylum system” and he did not know when he would get a decision on whether he would be allowed to remain here. In the meantime he is not allowed to work and is unable to pursue his goal to re-train in the UK.  Although never having experienced the need to ask for help before, last week he was urgently seeking food for himself and his family.

The second case was of two women with four children between them who had travelled via France to England. They were all distressed, hungry and spoke little English. They said they that were living in housing that was not secure and could be taken away at any time. They were given food for their immediate needs.

A senior representative from the food bank who helped the refugees said, “while we are supposed to follow the correct referral procedure we don’t judge and, in urgent circumstances, we can offer some immediate help and food to those who ask”.

Fr Tim Byron SJ, Senior Chaplain at Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy, commented “it seems refugees are being processed more quickly at the moment – they came without referral, but we are ready to reach out to them”.

The Manchester Central foodbank operates from the Catholic Chaplaincy on Oxford Road three days per week and at the Command Prayer Centre, a Pentecostal Church a short distance away, for two days per week. 

If you would like to support the Manchester Central food bank please go to their fundraising page.

Manchester central foodbank