Charity in Progress What do we do next?

Phillida Sawbridge reports

In February’s Waymark, Brian Robertson asked ‘what do we do next?’ with regard to helping refugees. Here are two possible suggestions.

At the service on 26 February, Jeanne Bell from Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA) brought to life their impressive programme of help to refugees in Arsal in Lebanon, where the 35,000 local residents are outnumbered by more than 2 to 1. The help ranges from delivering container-loads of clothing, to building and equipping a school, and providing vocational training. St Mark’s donations of clothing, toys and toiletries were gratefully received before Christmas. More such donations are always welcome, as are basic school supplies: paper, pencils and pens, etc. so we might want to think of creative ways of collecting items to contribute.

Support is also needed by refugees in Edinburgh. Liz Marshall and I visited Sabine Chalmers of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR) to find out more about the Weekend Club. This arranges weekend events once a month, to help refugees meet local people, overcome the loneliness of weekends, practise their English and have an enjoyable outing. The project seeks to increase inter-cultural understanding by both the host community and the new arrivals. St Mark’s could be a suitable venue for one such event, if enough volunteers wanted to organise and host it, sometime in the future. SFAR has a small team of volunteers who are taking responsibility for managing the overall programme, and who would be available for consultation and advice.

A collection box in the vestibule will be in place until early April for people to bring along the following items, pens and pencils; paper and notepads; shoes and toiletries; new underwear; and clothing. Brian Robertson has kindly agreed to transport these items to EDA