Dignity in Destitution

Asylum seekers are often the bottom of the pile when it comes to support and sympathy.

Each person has their own story of how and why they have made the difficult decision to leave their home and maybe their entire family, to make a long, often terrifying and dangerous journey to another country. They are frequently traumatised, bewildered and confused by the hostile reception they get from the Home Office, when they finally get to the UK.

They are people like us, who had a home, a job, a normal life and a simple wish to continue living in peace. War, persecution and discrimination are common reasons for their need to escape, sometimes to save their lives. The choice is not made lightly, and their hope is to rebuild a life somewhere free from persecution and conflict. Sadly, they are likely to find the UK a less welcoming place than they hoped and have the added issues of language, isolation, poverty and unemployment to deal with.

Asylum seekers will initially be given Home Office support if their case is thought to be worthy of consideration. If their case is turned down after further consideration, they will then be left destitute, with no recourse to public funds and no accommodation. This can happen very quickly, leaving them street homeless.

One of the most distressing problems for destitute asylum seekers is lack of shelter. They rely on charities to find them accommodation of some sort and, of course, anything is better than being on the streets and vulnerable.

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Climate tips for December – Christmas Crackers

  1. Real trees have a much lower carbon footprint than artificial ones, especially if disposed of by wood-chipping. An artificial tree would need to be reused for ten years to be comparable.
  2. This Advent ponder on Jesus’ coming to be with us on earth. How are we preparing His creation for Him to live with us here? Pray for grace and wisdom to play your part in caring for creation.
  3. Watch your shopping trolley. In the UK our food spend increases by 16% in December, make sure you are not over catering and that extras are not going to end up in the bin. 
  4. Celebrate the joy of Jesus coming to be with us. Wonder at his incarnating, He embraced being human, vulnerable and very much part of the creation that He made to restore it all back into peace with God.
  5. Calculate your carbon footprint for 2019 at Climate Stewards. Did you make any reductions this year? Take responsibility for your 2019 emissions by carbon offsetting. Set a target for 2020.

Offset your carbon emissions

It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate your carbon emissions, but carbon offsetting can help reduce your overall impact – and for less money than you might think.

Websites like offset.earth will invest in tree planting and carbon reduction schemes for as little as £1.25 a week, or others like www.myclimate.org/compensate will let you easily offset one-offs like a flight, a long car journey or even a cruise. Take a look around and see if there’s a way you can carbon offset your lifestyle.

Barnbow Lasses: Shells, shells and still more shells

The buildings at Barnbow have been demolished to make way for new housing, but the names of the streets there come from a dark period in the munition factory’s history.

The factory was built during the Autumn of 1915 to supply shells to the front. Shells manufactured by the Leeds Forge Company in Armley were transferred to Barnbow via specially laid railway tracks, and the platforms at Crossgates station were extended by 800 feet to accommodate the workers being ferried to the factory from places like Castleford, Wakefield, Harrogate and York, as well as all areas of Leeds. By December 1915 production was underway.

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Climate tips for November – Around the home

  1. If in doubt, switch it off: it is never more efficient to leave appliances running when you are not using them. Make sure you switch everything off at the plug before you go out and before you go to bed.
  2. Ensure your heating is switched off at night and when you are away from your home (except in sub-zero conditions) and save 500kg CO2e a year. Don’t heat rooms you don’t use, turn the radiator off and close the door. Smart thermostats can go even further, sometimes slicing up to 30% off your heating bill whilst keeping your home more comfortable.
  3. Read your meters monthly to check how much fuel you are using, or see if your supplier can fit a smart meter. This kind of monitoring can save on your fuel bills and also up to 250kg CO2e a year, as you keep a closer eye on your energy use.
  4. Find out if you have any unfilled cavity walls and (if yes) have them filled. This extra insulation can make a significant difference to the comfort of your home and save over 1 tonne of CO2e.

Climate tips for October – What’s on the menu?

  1. Think about your food before it reaches your table. 45% of the carbon emissions from food comes from production (on the farm), 28% in food processing, 7% in packaging and 19% from transport. Home grown has the lowest carbon footprint!
  2. Learn how to cook a new vegetarian or vegan meal each week. Why? Switching to plant based protein is better for your health and carbon budget. 1kg of beef or lamb releases 19kg CO2e (cows and sheep burp methane); chicken releases 4.5kg CO2e; beans only 2kg CO2e; and lentils a tiny 0.9 kg CO2e.
  3. Cut back on cheese and dairy products. Cows burp methane, a very strong greenhouse gas. Eat more plant based alternatives like oat or soya “milk”, hummus, olives, nuts and seeds.
  4. Stick to tap water. Bottled water comes with a 320g per litre carbon footprint, whereas tap water is a mere 0.24g CO2e per litre. If you don’t like the taste of your home tap water you can install an under the sink water filter, or pick up a filter jug.

Equality, democracy, freedom

The Church believes in equality

It’s important that a Church which represents everybody has representation from everybody, which is why almost half of new Bishops appointed since 2014 have been women, and why the Church continues to seek a balanced set of appointments. In November the Bishop-designate of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, will be the first black woman to become a bishop in the Church of England.

The Church believes in democracy

The Church of England doesn’t work alone – instead it works with hundreds of local authorities, schools, hospitals, mosques, temples, societies, clubs, businesses and more to build a society in which we all move forward together.

Sometimes this is as local as agreeing on a new colour scheme for a shared building – or it could be as complicated and far-reaching as helping to put together new legislation to help the most vulnerable in society.

The Church believes in freedom

Freedom is an integral part of being human, and freedom comes in many forms. Freedom from fear, freedom from hunger and freedom to worship are just a few examples.

It’s because of this belief in freedom that the Church of England supports over 33,000 social projects up and down the country. One and a half million volunteers from the Church help with food banks, lunch clubs, debt relief, supporting asylum seekers, teaching languages and much more, helping over three and a half million people feel more free.

St Mary’s Church is proud to support groups both locally and across the city of Leeds working to build a better future, like the Leeds South & East Foodbank, St George’s Crypt, schools in the TNLP Trust, the Silver Lining Luncheon Club, the Mothers’ Union and many more.