More than 100 people gathered at a lively rally in Chester’s Town Hall Square to send out a welcoming message to refugees fleeing war zones in the Middle East.
‘Refugees Welcome Here – Chester’ organised the demonstration held at noon on Saturday in tandem with rallies in London and around the country.
The drumming of the Karamba Samba band added to the colourful atmosphere of the occasion which was also attended by Cheshire West and Chester councillors and members of the Labour Party who were selling Jeremy Corbyn badges – the new Labour leader addressed the London refugee rally immediately after being elected.
Ian Coyne, who helped organise the Chester event, said: “It’s to raise awareness of the plight of the refugees from the conflict in the Middle East and to ask the government to meet its obligations as representatives of one of the wealthier nations in the world to respond in a proportionate way, in the same way as other wealthier nations have.”
CalAid were represented at the rally with donations of tents, sleeping bags and warm clothing sought to help the refugees based at the camps in Calais.Ian continued: “We thought we might get a few people but as usual those who have got the least have brought down the most, there’s been an enormous turn-out and passersby, their imagination has been captured by the brilliant performance by the samba band.”
“Some people have asked us about the plight of the homeless people, quite rightly, in Chester itself and CalAid have said any items that are brought down that are not urgently required by the refugees in Syria but are required as we move into winter, such as blankets and knitwear, by the homeless in Chester, they will be passed onto them.”
Some Chester people have said they will welcome refugees into their own home. Ian commented: “Our campaign is not to take people into their homes but obviously if they are able to do so, that’s great.”
The CalAid collection point is Northgate Church, Upper Northgate Street, Chester, CH1 4EF. Donations are accepted 10am-2pm weekdays. For further information contact 01244 390140.