The highlight of our November meeting was a talk by Federica Smith on the organisation she founded 18 months ago: RAFT – Refugee Aid From Taunton. By ingenuity, persistence and learning as they go, RAFT has sent aid to, among other needy places, Syria, Uganda (for Sudanese refugees), and the Ukraine. Their next shipment is to Lebanon.
So far they have dispatched 116 vanloads. Nothing they are given is wasted: if it’s unsuitable it will be sold and the money donated. Unusable clothes are sold for rags, some are swapped. They help the homeless in Taunton too, and local refugees. It is an admirable story. They’re based in the old Market House at Firepool (pictured). Find them on Facebook or visit their website at: www.refugeeaidfromtaunton.org.uk
Our Monthly Action was to write to Theresa May pleading for her to intervene for the children of Aleppo: ‘If you tolerate this, our children could be next. Every war crime we allow to go unpunished – by any party to this brutal conflict – makes the world more dangerous.’
Our Write for Rights Action this year will coincide with the Saturday Coffee Morning run at St Mary’s Church, Hammet Street, Taunton. We will be there on Saturday 10th December, Human Rights Day, from 10am until 2pm. We send cards, and letters, to those suffering human rights abuses around the world, and ask you to come and get involved: by sending a card or writing a letter, you can change a life.
On the same day we are donating a collection of books on human rights and related topics to Taunton Library in Paul Street.
Please note: there will be no monthly meeting in December, but our first meeting in 2017 will be on 10th January at 7.30 in the Quaker Meeting House, Bath Place. We’ll be delighted to welcome you there.
Our next monthly meeting is on Tuesday 8th November at 7.30pm at Taunton Quaker Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, TA1 4EP (there is nearby parking behind Boots).
Our guest speaker will be Refugee Aid From Taunton (RAFT) co-ordinator Federica Smith.
Join us to hear about our campaigns, human rights and the work of Amnesty International. New members are always welcome.
We hope to see you there!
Amnesty’s new global campaign ‘I Welcome Refugees’ has been launched. Susan Mew of the Minehead Group presented an introduction to its aims, and to the complexities of understanding the issues involved.
Worldwide there are estimated to be 21 million refugees, and it is mostly the poorest countries who receive them – countries such as Turkey and Pakistan. These, and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East host about three quarters of all refugees. Europe is home to some 22%. Britain hosts less than 1%. For more detailed information, look at www.amnesty.org.uk/truth-about-refugees.
Relating to this campaign, our Monthly Action was to write to our local MPs asking for their support for migrants, particularly children. ‘We are working with people across the UK to welcome refugees. We would like to see all countries fairly share responsibility for hosting and assisting them.’
We heard from Group member Michael Benison who was at the well-attended Refugees Welcome march in London on 17th September, a prelude to the UN meeting on refugees in New York two days later.
We discussed our Write for Rights campaign for the Christmas period, and our concerns over the Government’s continuing plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 8th November at 7.30pm in the Friends Meeting house, Bath Place, Taunton, when our guest speaker will be Refugee Aid From Taunton (RAFT) co-ordinator Federica Smith. We hope you’ll come and join us.