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Multi-faith chaplaincy provides a helping hand to Irma evacuees

13 October 2017

University of Central Lancashire

Relief: students evacuated by Hurricane Irma are reunited last week

Relief: students evacuated by Hurricane Irma are reunited last week

MEDICAL students and staff evacu­ated from the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, devastated by hurri­cane Irma last month, have been able to resume their studies at the Univers­ity of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

The university’s multi-faith chap­laincy helped to find housing for 700 evacuees from the American Uni­versity of the Caribbean Medical School, and arrange evening and weekend teaching facilities at its Preston campus medical school.

The Sint Maarten students al­­ready have close ties with Lanca­shire hos­pitals where they carry out place­ments as part of their studies. When UCLAN’s Vice-Chancellor, Pro­fessor Mike Thomas, heard of their plight, he invited them all to Lanca­shire. “We said, ‘Well, why not bring the whole school over?’” he told the AFP new agency.

The students were evacuated by the United States air force, and flew to Britain from the US.

The co-ordinating chaplain, Canon Andrew Clitherow, said: “In the initial stages of the university’s response, the multi-faith chaplaincy team has been offering pastoral and spiritual support while working with colleagues from the support services who have provided food, clothing, and housing.

“In addition to this, we are put­ting the new students in touch with local faith communities.”

To demonstrate their gratitude for the help offered, the students have asked to assist in community projects “Already they want to give something back” Canon Clitherow said. “They have reminded me that people of good faith are united across the world by a strong sense of compassion towards others.

The desire to care for one’s neighbour as one would wish to be cared for one­self crosses the boundaries of reli­gions and denominations.”

Sana Iqbal, president of the UCLAN student union, told The Guardian: “It’s been a really difficult time for these guys and we hope they’ve passed the hard bit, but right now it’s a new chapter in everyone’s lives and there’s loads of good stuff coming up. I’m proud we’ve been able to help.”

University of Central Lancashire“Able to help”: the president of the UCLAN student union, Sana Iqbal

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