On Saturday, July 4th, the Malvern Welcomes Syrian Families Steering Group held an informative and inspiring workshop on creating a “Culture of Welcome” for 50 members of the community to deepen understanding of the challenges facing refugees and to explore the best ways to support them in becoming part of their community.

Speaking about why they had chosen to be involved, one participant said: ‘I believe we should be developing a culture of compassion and awareness to counter media-fed paranoia and misinformation about refugees. They are fleeing situations more desperate than we can imagine and we are in a position to help and support them, which would be the humane and right thing to do’.

This sentiment was echoed by others who attended, and everyone came away better informed and with a strengthened resolve to create a culture of welcome within their own part of the community.

The day was led by Tiffy Allen and Elinor Harris from the City of Sanctuary Movement who are experts in issues relating to refugees. Speaking of the positive and enthusiastic response to the workshop, Tiffy Allen said: ‘I feel proud to be associated with a place committed to compassion.’

Last December, Malvern Hills District Council voted in support of accepting a group of vulnerable Syrian refugees under the UK government’s SVPR, in response to a call from local people via the Amnesty group.  However, Worcestershire County Council are thwarting the call from compassionate local people and the story has been told in today’s Guardian. Please see the article here, which provides a positive history of Malvern providing a safe haven for refugees over the last century.

Today’s local newspaper Malvern Observer has also published 6 letters of support from local people for the relocation of a few Syrian families in Malvern.