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Manchester welcomes refugees

Submitted by on September 9, 2015 – 8:57 pmOne Comment


The adoption of the word “migrant” to describe the many tens of thousands of people fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is what we have come to expect from right-wing sections of British media. That fact that the misuse of this word extends almost entirely to left, right and centre is at best shameful and only in recent days have some outlets begun to address these human beings by their correct term – refugees.

The people dying in the Mediterranean attempting to escape the most incomprehensible suffering are refugees, as are those walking through Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, Hungary and many other countries which separate their living hell from a chance of survival in Western Europe. Many, many more are not able to escape the wars that rage around them to even attempt such a journey. They are dying in their thousands amidst or trying to escape unimaginable horrors.

Their plight should not be dumbed down by the word migrant. Birds migrate to escape the cold. Whales migrate to seek more plentiful sources of food. Britons lucky enough to retire early migrate to Spain to play golf. Boarding a boat, or even an inflatable dinghy loaded with many times the number it was built to carry, knowing the massive risk to your life and the lives of your family, is not migration, it is desperation. These people are desperate.

Their only option is to attempt perilous journeys over land and sea. As we have seen in the pictures last week of the young dead boy washed up on a Turkish beach, a huge number of these journeys are ending in the deaths of people whose lives have been torn apart by situations over which they have no control, forced upon them by aggressive foreign policies, religious fanaticism and despotic dictatorships.

There are many complex and nuanced reasons why camps from Calais to Budapest and beyond are unable to cope with the sheer numbers seeking refuge. Whilst the camps’ inhabitants are not exclusively Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan, an undisputable fact is that decisions taken by UK politicians have created situations in their countries which have forced millions to flee and this should weigh heavily on our collective conscience. Although we can use our democratic power to influence how our government might act in the future, we cannot reverse these decisions and undo their untold damage.

However, the lucky refugees – if you can call living in train stations, tents and man-made shelters with no guarantee of food or clean water ‘lucky’ – have made it to shore in Greece, Turkey, Malta and Italy and have made their way to countless safer places in Europe, including our doorstep in Calais. Their situation is dire but can be improved by simple steps that you can take. These actions can give refugees hope, but more importantly can provide food, clothing and shelter.

At FC United’s home game versus Corby Town on the 12th of September, a group of supporters have organised a visual display designed to support and publicise the plight of refugees across the world, as seen across Europe, most notably in Germany. The hope is that this display will encourage other clubs throughout football and in other sports to also show their support, which may in turn prompt supporters and onlookers to take direct action to in some way improve the situation.

Clearly this alone is insufficient action for a community-centric club like FC United to be taking. Therefore, supporters have been in contact with Refugee Action – http://www.refugee-action.org.uk – a charity which has been helping refugees for over 30 years, regarding a collection of food, clothing and materials which can be used for shelter. Refugee Action are currently working with other organisations who will arrange delivery of any donated items to those who need it, including in those in camps in Calais.

The part that you can play in helping refugees is small but significant. We are asking any FC United supporters who attend the game against Corby Town on the 12th of September to bring with them and donate any of the following;

• Tinned and dried food including rice, flour, sugar.
• Blankets, sleeping bags and bedding
• Warm clothing – clean and practical
• Tents and camping equipment
• Sanitary items, anti- bacterial products and basic toiletries

There will be a collection point set up outside the ground manned by FC United volunteers. Please look in your cupboards before leaving for the game on Saturday and bring with you anything which you think might make a difference to someone somewhere who has been displaced by war or persecution. No donation is too small to people who have nothing.

In addition to the display and collection, supporters have agreed with the club that 15 tickets will be donated to Manchester Refugee Support Network – http://www.mrsn.org.uk – a long established local charity, providing a variety of services aimed at helping the life of the local refugee community. These tickets will be for distribution to people they are actively helping. Whilst this does not change what is happening way outside Manchester, we hope that this is a small way of demonstrating that the club continues to support refugees wherever possible, which of course includes the outreach work the club has done since being formed in 2005.

The refugee situation across Europe is fast-moving and the requirement for ordinary people across the continent to dig deep and help will only grow. We all see images daily, especially via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, of the real suffering that is endured. It is very easy to share posts and express our concern and outrage when replying to these posts and whilst this does help publicise what is happening and keep it in the public consciousness, the true impact on refugees is non-existent. So please do something genuinely worthwhile and bring something with you to the Corby game which will relieve the suffering of these desperate people.

If you can volunteer your help or services, please contact us via content@afinelung.com or community@fc-utd.co.uk and someone will get in touch.