Bristol parish speaks out for refugees on Human Rights Day

Fr Richard McKay

Fr Richard McKay

Parishioners from St Nicholas of Tolentino in inner-city Bristol will be describing what life  is like in Bristol when you are seeking safe refuge  at a special event marking Human Rights Day (10 December).

The anniversary, which marks the UN's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will see people who fled countries such as Darfur, Somalia, Iran and Zimbabwe sharing their experiences at a conference entitled 'Protection and Dignity - Not Destitution'.  The event takes place in Newton Hall on Newton Street in the Easton area of Bristol.  It is open to all and the organisers hope people will come to hear the reality of situation.  The event takes place between 4 and 5pm.

Leader of Bristol City Council Councillor Barbara Janke will be at the meeting examining the situation of refused asylum seekers, who are made destitute if they do not return to their countries of origin.  A petition asking for the right for asylum seekers to work after six months will be presented to Bristol West MP Stephen Williams' representative.

St Nicholas of Tolentino - the parish in the Clifton Diocese well known for its ministry to people seeking safe refuge in the city - with parish priest Fr Richard McKay. joins Bristol Refugee Rights, Refugee Action and City of Sanctuary in organising the meeting. 

St Nicholas of Tolentino parishioner Maria is an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, who came to the UK in 2002.  She is chairing the event.  Maria said: "We want to give our testimonies on this important anniversary to demonstrate that asylum seekers' human rights are not being respected in this country.  We feel that making people destitute is subjecting them to 'inhuman and degrading treatment', which is in breach of human rights legislation.". 

The invited audience will consist of representatives of local government and other statutory bodies, churches and faith groups, and the voluntary sector. Monsignor Canon Gabriel Leyden,  Clifton Diocese Vicar General will be speaking about the support given by St Nicholas of Tolentino parish, the clear social teaching of the Church regarding the dignity of people seeking safety and the Church's longstanding defence of the vulnerable. 


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