But for the Grace

by Lucy Lepchani

I went out to the bakers to buy a loaf of bread
and didn’t have to think about the warplanes overhead,
and later in the garden where I, for my leisure, toil:
I never have to think about the land-mines in the soil.
I take my granddaughter to school, she loves to join her class;
no snipers on the rooftops, no risk of flying glass,
and later in the playground where she and her playmates thrive:
no soldiers, no bulldozers, and they all come home alive.
My son, he is a young man and like his father, works each day.
I often think they work too hard compared to what they’re paid,
but they don’t wear the uniforms of men called up to war
and I hardly ever worry that they’ll come home any more.
Imagine if in your street, there were craters that were homes
and your neighbours lost, forever, in the rubble, but for their bones,
and soldiers on your high street speaking in their foreign tongues
and sometimes checking out your household through the sighting of a gun.
Then suddenly, you’re running with some devil at your heels
between the deep blue sea ahead and both ways, ferrymen make deals…
and then with loved ones crammed beside you in some half-wreck of a boat,
here some, they breathe their last but you: you stay afloat…
…and land. And then by journeys long and lonely, find yourself here, in this place
where people reach out and say ‘Welcome! But for the grace
of God or luck or fate, go any of us…but for the grace, but for the grace!’

UN Anti Racism Day – Sat. 19th March

A national demonstration in London, details below. There will be an event in Ashburton, organised by ARWG, in support of and at the same time as the London march. More details to follow. Please support us if you can – Facebook event link here.

ALL OUT FOR UN ANTI-RACISM DAY – stand up to racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and facism!
#M19 #RefugeesWelcome #BlackLivesMatter
A racist offensive against refugees, migrants and Muslims is being pushed by some politicians and press. It is crucial 12346463_786862181425619_2971975576141674726_nwe respond to this by standing in solidarity against attempts to divide our communities. The appalling treatment of refugees across Europe and the staggering rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes must be challenged.

Let’s send a message that drives back the tide of racism, fascism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the scapegoating of migrants and refugees – we say refugees welcome here and yes to diversity!

Join the Europe-wide UN Anti-Racism Day Demonstration when tens of thousands march across Britain, with major mobilisations in London, Scotland and Wales joining thousands in cities across Europe and around the world to say no to racism.

Stand Up To Racism has led some of the biggest anti-racist
mobilisations in Britain of the last decade, including the UN Anti-racism day demonstrations of 2014 and 2015 and the 100,000 strong Refugees Welcome demonstration on 12th September 2015.

Keep checking updates for route and other details.

Thoughts on current refugee issues by Judy Gordon Jones

What can we do?

Every so often it feels as if the terrible plight of people 1901692_10152387758586802_514631880_nescaping war, terrorism and political persecution has slipped from our collective consciousness. Headlines in the press and TV news are dominated by Cameron’s determination to get a better deal for Britain from our membership with the EU. It would seem that the fact that we are the 5th richest nation in the world and the 2nd in Europe defines our power and influence but not our ability to work with Europe to find solutions to the crises and refuge to those in such desperate need.

Our government thinks that it is protected from any obligatio
n to provide sanctuary for refugees by the Dublin Regulation which states that “Asylum should be sought in the country first entered.” It doesn’t take an advanced knowledge of the geography of Europe to realise that, as Angela Merkel has pointed out, the burden of accepting thousands of refugees thus falls on a few of the poorest countries in Europe.

Whilst the politicians appear to be burying their heads in the sand, all over the country people are finding ways to respond in humanitarian ways to what is happening on mainland Europe.

In this area, the Facebook sites ‘Newton Crisis Aid’ and ‘Refugee family Solidarity’, are two local groups who have projects going on and are asking for assistance with activities like sorting and packing clothes and goods to send abroad.
The Totnes based groups, Beyond Borders and Refugee Support Devon are organising activities that support the few refugees already in this country.

But without the Government increasing the scope and number of refugees accepted into this country, our activities are limited. Individuals writing to their MP to ask them to extend the government’s very limited policies can be an effective means of applying pressure. It is also worth writing to your Local Authorities to ask them to look at how they can provide accommodation in their area.

Teignbridge District Council are meeting at 10am on Wednesday 10th February to discuss their response to guidance from Devon County Council as to how they might be able to accommodate refugees. We are all encouraged to meet at the offices at 9.30 to show support for providing refugee accommodation in this area.

Please write to our MP : Mr Mel Stride MP,
The House of Commons,
LONDON SW1A 0AA

And to the Leader of Teignbridge District Council, Mr Jeremy Christophers,
Teignbridge District Council,
Forde House,
Brunel Road,
Newton Abbot, TQ12 4XX
Also, for good measure, send copies to Mr Mike Hocking, Chair and Ms Nicola Bulbeck, Chief Executive at the same address.