Priest buys house for refuge

28 September 2018

DAVID ROBINSON

Volunteers and the four refugees, outside the house

Volunteers and the four refugees, outside the house

A YORKSHIRE priest has set up a refuge for asylum-seekers in Hull. The Revd Peter Harding bought a house for the purpose after selling his own house to fund it. It was officially opened during Refugee Week by the Bishop of Hull, the Rt Revd Alison White.

After a series of interviews, four young men seeking asylum in the UK were chosen to live in the house by Mr Harding and his wife, Anne: two Iranians, one Iraqi Kurd, and one Ghanaian.

The refuge was different from others, Mr Harding said. “The aim is partly to help acclimatise residents to the realities of life in the UK in these times of austerity, by helping them live more simply and cheaply,” along with “encouraging them to work at their case for asylum, their English, and, where appropriate, their faith — and, if possible, to find some fulfilling activities.

“None of this is easy, especially when one appreciates the trauma that lies beneath [their] outward cheery greetings.”

The scheme is running alongside Open Doors Hull, a charity operated by Princes Methodist Church, in the city, which supports refugees and asylum-seekers.

Mr Harding said: “Having been involved in Christian Aid Week for some years, I was in Derby for the week in May 2017. It so happened that I was thinking about a mother with two children just made homeless, when it clearly came to me, as if it were the voice of God, that I should sell my house and buy one in Hull to house refused asylum-seekers.

“In late June, in Refugee Week, we had an official opening, with Bishop White and Leslie Newton, chair of the Methodist District, and 30 or so friends and supporters. It was a moving occasion, a nice houseful, and a gorgeous day.”

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