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Faith leaders call for action on Syrian refugees

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THE ARCHBISHOP OF WALES and other faith leaders are calling on the Prime Minister to increase urgently the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the download (9)UK in response to ‘one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our time’.

In an open letter to David Cameron, the Archbishop Dr Barry Morgan, the Head of the Jewish Reform Movement Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra,Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain and Co-Chair of the Christian Muslim Forum, express their support for a joint call from Amnesty International, the Refugee Council, JCore, Islamic Relief and Cafod for the UK to do more to help Syria’s refugees find safety here.

The letter comes ahead of the first anniversary yesterday (Jan 29) of the UK government’s announcement of a special resettlement scheme for the most vulnerable refugees from the Syrian conflict. A year on, Home Office figures show that only 90 people have been offered asylum here.

Nearly four years into the conflict, ten million people have been forced to leave their homes, nearly four million of whom have fled the country.The vast majority are living in precarious circumstances in Syria’s neighbouring countries, and many are struggling to survive in freezing temperatures.

The faith leaders say that the conflict in Syria is one of the ‘greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our time’ and that neighbouring countries are at the point of collapse from the sheer numbers of refugees they are hosting.

They say in their letter:

Many refugees have experienced persecution, torture or sexual violence, sometimes because of their religion or ethnicity, or have disabilities or other urgent medical needs which make them particularly vulnerable. Some will not survive the winter.

We are proud of the way in which the UK has led the world in its humanitarian aid contribution to the Syria crisis. However, our help cannot end with aid. We urge you to show the same leadership on resettlement so that more of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees can find sanctuary here in the UK.

We welcomed the announcement, a year ago, of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme but we are disappointed that only 90 refugees have so far been offered a safe haven here in the UK via this route. One year on, we urge you to take this opportunity to commit to offering resettlement places to thousands, not hundreds, of refugees from Syria.

In the face of a desperate and growing need, we believe that Great Britain has a moral responsibility to continue our noble tradition as a compassionate and welcoming safe haven for those in need of protection. As Prime Minister, you have the power to offer hope to people whose suffering is almost unimaginable to us. We ask you to do this today.

Amnesty International is calling on rich countries around the world to resettle five per cent of Syria’s refugees by the end of this year and a further five per cent by the end of 2016. The UK government has agreed to resettle only several hundred people over three years.

Other countries, including Germany and the USA, have promised to resettle thousands.

Excluding Germany, the rest of the European Union (EU) has pledged to take in a paltry 0.17 per cent of refugees from the main host countries.

In early January, Canada announced it would open its doors to 10,000 Syrian refugees

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said:“The UK government’s relief efforts in the region are to be commended but it is clear that so much more needs to be done to protect people fleeing the Syrian conflict, including those at risk of persecution due to their religion or ethnicity.

“A year on from agreeing to resettle hundreds of refugees, the UK should take this opportunity to up their game and resettle thousands of Syria’s most vulnerable. The UK has done this in response to other conflicts, what is stopping this government from doing the same?”

Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “A year ago the British Government made a promise to some of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees. We promised them safety. We promised them hope. We promised them a future. If David Cameron fails to significantly increase the scale of Britain’s resettlement scheme he will have broken that promise.”

Edie Freedman, Executive Director of The Jewish Council for Racial Equality said“We in the Jewish community know only too well the perils of being refugees and the indifference which too often meets their desperate plight to find sanctuary.

Syrians now make up the largest refugee group in the world. We appreciate that this is not a job for Britain alone, but we must do our fair share.”

Islamic Relief’s UK Director Jehangir Malik’s said told The Herald: “This is the world’s worst refugee crisis for generations, and we should do more to help the countries of the Middle East by hosting some of the most vulnerable of Syria’s refugees in the UK.

The refugees I’ve met with Islamic Relief in Lebanon have suffered unimaginable trauma and yet so many of them continue to suffer because the authorities are stretched to breaking point trying to meet their basic needs for food, warmth and shelter.”

Alan Thomlinson, Cafod’s Manager for the Syria Crisis, said:“The number of Syrian refugees accepted into Britain so far is woefully inadequate. Britain has a proud tradition of helping those in need, and – with no end in sight to the war – we need to show solidarity with the countries and communities that are bearing the brunt of this appalling crisis.”

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Fishguard and Goodwick Mural project turns to Crowdfunder to raise money

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PLANS to put up a few bright and decorative murals around the twin towns of Fishguard & Goodwick have turned to Crowdfunder to raise the money needed for their vision.

Andrew Harries, found of the Fishguard Future Projects, wants to place 12 murals around Fishguard and Goodwick “to help brighten up the town and showcase its culture and history”.

Andrew said: “Having been born and raised in Fishguard, I have seen the town’s highs and lows.

“Fishguard and Goodwick has a lot of potential with the tourism trade growing every year and the popular events such as the Music Festivals, The New Years Eve Street Party, The Carnival, The Soapbox Derby and many more helping attract even more visitors.”

The murals, which were initially turned down for funding when a grant application was refused, will focus on the two towns “interesting but lesser known history” that Andrew feels needs to be highlighted.

Andrew told The Herald: “Each design will be 8 x 6ft and mounted professionally on buildings around the area. Having spoken to a few business owners around the town, this project has received a lot of positive feedback.”

“The murals will unfortunately need to be fully funded via Crowdfunder, after a grant application was turned down.

“I have explored the option of having them traditionally painted on, but this would be more cost effective and would need to be maintained every 5 – 8 years. With this in mind, the designs will be created digitally and then professionally mounted on aluminium composite.”

If you want to help, you can find the link to Andrew’s Crowdfunder here.

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Drive for new recruits as Army Cadets re-open

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DYFED AND GLAMORGAN ARMY CADET FORCE are now able to accept new joiners aged 12 (and in Year 8 at School) to 17 years old.

Joining the Army Cadets will give access to a wide range of exciting activities, from adventurous training (AT) such as kayaking, mountain biking and abseiling and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to military-themed activities including shooting, fieldcraft and skill at arms, as well as training in first aid, young adults get the chance to discover lots of new experiences and make new friends.  

There is no obligation to join the Forces at all, but they can give some guidance if you are interested.  

There are no subscription charges, uniform is issued free on a loan basis; the only thing you need to supply yourselves is Boots.  

The Cadet Force are also looking for adult volunteers, both uniformed and non-uniformed to assist as well.

They have Detachments located in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Narberth, Tenby, Milford Haven, Neyland, Pembroke Dock, Tenby, St Clears, Llanelli, Trimsarren and Burry Port.

Most Detachments parade twice a week in the evenings 1900 – 2100hrs on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday (Depending on Location) and try to get away for a weekend every month as well as organising summer camps. 

Further Information is available at :- www.armycadets.com or call them on 01656 657593 (Option 1) to find out where your local detachment is and what nights they Parade.

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Food Waste Heroes needed in Pembrokeshire

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TESCO’S Pembroke Dock Superstore has joined forces with food sharing app and social enterprise OLIO which is encouraging people across Pembrokeshire to become Food Waste Heroes.

The OLIO app allows anyone who signs up to tackle the issue of food waste at a local level.

OLIO Food Waste Heroes collect surplus food that might otherwise go to waste from supermarkets and other food businesses and share it with others locally for free via a contact-free pick-up.

Food Waste Heroes will be collecting surplus food from Tesco local stores taking part in the scheme, including the Tesco Pembroke Dock Superstore, and take it home ready to upload it to the app and share it with their community.

To reward them for taking part Food Waste Heroes are allowed to keep 10% of anything they collect to enjoy at home.

Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of OLIO, said: “People become a Food Waste Hero for many different reasons but they each share a commitment to reducing food waste at scale. It is extremely rewarding because distributing large quantities of surplus food via the app means you get to see exactly what food you are preventing from going to waste.

“In the process of sharing our FWHs also get to meet a lot of new people in their neighbourhood, people from all walks of life. Finally, FWHs are able to keep up to 10% of their haul for themselves, so they can enjoy some of the delicious rescued food too!”

OLIO is registered with the Food Standards Agency, which ensures that all food collected is safe for human consumption.

Paul Johns, Store Manager at Tesco Pembroke Dock encouraged people to get involved.

“At Tesco we are committed to tackling food waste and we already donate our store’s surplus food to local charities and community groups through our Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare,” he said.

“But on some days local charities and community groups are unable to collect from us, and that is why we are supporting OLIO in the hunt for Food Waste Heroes across Pembrokeshire so that even more of our surplus food is eaten rather than wasted.”

To become a Food Waste Hero or find out more, visit https://olioex.com/get-involved/volunteer/

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