A helping hand for refugees in need

CRISIS Thousands of people fleeing war in the Middle East have sought refuge in Europe
CRISIS Thousands of people fleeing war in the Middle East have sought refuge in Europe

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Reverend Ian Meredith, Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Portchester, talks about

how the parish is helping refugees

Members of our congregations, school pupils, residents and local businesses have worked together to help the Syrian refugees stranded in Europe.

For two days earlier this month, more than 40 pupils from Cams Hill School in Fareham, residents and those who worship at St Mary’s came together to receive and sort out donations which poured in from the community.

There were clothes, shoes, bedding, candles, food, toiletries and medicines. In the end the whole of the north transept was full of bags and boxes, and three large van loads were taken to Ports-mouth to be delivered by the group, Don’t Hate Donate.

An additional £200 was collected towards the cost of transportation.

The pupils worked incredibly hard from the time they arrived until they went, and showed great team spirit working with helpers from the church.

The vans were provided by GSF London, Highbury College and Portchester Plastering. But St Mary’s is not stopping at this.

Through Southampton-based charity ‘Solent for Syria’, set up recently to respond to the crisis, church members have been filling up shoeboxes with hats, gloves, school supplies and sweets to give to boys and girls in the refugee camps at Syria.

So far dozens of these have been returned and we think the final total which we hope to collect by the end of October will reach around 100 shoeboxes.

A third response has been to help the plight of Christians fleeing genocide at the hands of the Islamic State army whose barbarity has almost wiped out the Christian community in parts of Syria. The Polish government has said that the country will accept Christian refugees and give them a new start in their land.

The Barnabas Fund has been organising donations in order to help transport these people to Poland, and so far St Mary’s congregation has raised more than £6,000.

n St Mary’s Church is located at Portchester Castle, Castle Road, Portchester, PO16 9QW.

To find out more contact Rev Meredith on (023) 9237 5422 or email irev@ymail.com. Alternatively, contact Penny Tarrant at the parish office on (023) 9232 1380 or email office@stmary-portchester.org.uk, or visit stmary-portchester.org.uk.