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Refugee Week 2022 – a message from our CEO

Ruth Haygarth with mayor of Burnley Cosima Townley

I am sitting comfortably at my laptop on a quiet Sunday morning, drinking my coffee and reflecting on the past week – it’s been so busy that it’s the first time in a while I have had the time for such a luxury!

My days have been crammed full of all our normal work helping asylum seekers and refugees in Burnley, plus the seemingly never ending last minute preparations for the Platinum Jubilee celebration party we held yesterday – it was a great event and we welcomed around 200 friends from eight different countries.

But all of this was against the constant backdrop of the fiasco of the on-off Rwanda deportation flight and the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine.

Monday 20 June is World Refugee Day 2022 and my thoughts are centring around the true concept of hospitality – what does this mean in today’s world?

  • Is it what we receive when we go out for a meal, a drink or to an exclusive shop?
  • Is it a welcome in return for buying a service or purchasing a much-coveted item?
  • Is it a social welcome for friends and family – the people we feel comfortable with?

The answer is yes – that for me, and many of us, on one level these things are ‘hospitality’.

But if we look beyond this, there is far more to the concept of true hospitality.

In NNT our work is founded on this true and radical hospitality – our shared humanity, welcoming and neighbourliness. 

Hospitality begins with an acknowledgement of shared humanity.

It finds its beginnings in our hearts.

A willingness to welcome strangers.

To share space and resources with those who come our way.

Especially those who have come our way not through choice, but to flee torture, war, persecution, trafficking or starvation.

Our hospitality offers freedom for people to rest, to feel safe, to heal and to rebuild shattered lives.

It allows them to make friends in their new community.

In turn they can welcome and care for others.

Our world needs to find a way for all of us to live together peacefully and to share shrinking resources with our neighbours – even if they don’t speak our language or dress like us.

Diversity makes us stronger, and at the end of the day, we really are all in it together in this world – whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. 

It is time to be truly and radically hospitable and to welcome those seeking asylum, not export them like cargo to other countries.  

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