Dear Sir or Madam. 8/3/2016
Having had a weekend break in York last Saturday and Sunday and being a Southerner found the people of York as Bishop Sentamu quite rightly said "very warm and friendly". However on both evenings walking the charming streets and back alleyways late at night, 9.30-10.00, I was heartbroken to view elderly men sleeping in shop doorways, one was even disabled with crutches propped up in the corner and looked about 65 years of age and may have been much older and unable to lay down. If I could have taken him back to my accommodation in Heworth Road and given him a hearty breakfast in the morning indeed I would have done so.
I still have feelings of guilt that I had not done so, but what could I have done as an individual, particularly for the long term. I am not a religeous man, though I have great respect for the Salvation Army and the work that they do for the needy. This leads me to the question that I must ask you, what statement are you trying to make with the banner that you have purchased and are flying outside your Church "WE WELCOME MIGRANTS" to me it seems so peverse, yes, we are our brother's keeper yet our brothers are shivvering in a cold and wet doorway just a few hundred yards away. Would you disregard their comforts yet prefer to provide for others?
Regards Brian Pawling
The future is a communal effort, like a patchwork quilt. Everyone interested in forming our society takes a square each – a square they have chosen according to their interests, knowledge and ability – and sews it, then we join them together to make a fabulous quilt. That’s how things get done.
When you get accosted by someone going, “You cannot talk about BLAH unless you also talk about BLAH”, the best response is, “I know – you do BLAH and I’ll do BLAH, and then the world will be twice as improved! Thanks for volunteering! You’re a total mensch. On behalf of the rest of the world – thank you!”
Dear Brian Pawling,
I’m so pleased you found the people of York to be “very warm and friendly”.
Sadly York, like any other town or city, suffers the heartache of homelessness.
York has a number of projects and organisations, all working hard to alleviate the problems. There are a number of housing projects, food banks, soup runs, breakfast venues, street angels and support ventures, all working hard to try and make life bearable for those less fortunate.
Our church and its individual members have a very good record of helping the homeless. We support the Big Issue vendors in our city by providing refreshment and access to their magazines three times a week. We provide food and social space to the vulnerably housed. We raise funds for many and varied organisations and give food to the breakfast club nearby.
All this does not preclude us from caring for the vulnerable of other nations too. We believe that we should care for all God’s children so in response to your question: our banner states that we would welcome refugees. That is people displaced and fleeing for their lives from terror and violence. We can only imagine the horrors that many have experienced, so our message is that, should any refugees find themselves in our locality, we would welcome and help them as we would wish to be treated were we ever to be in a similar situation through no fault of our own. We support humanitarian aid for all victims of injustice at home and abroad, but this does not mean that we ignore the needy on our doorstep
I hope this goes some way to reassuring you, and that you enjoy future visits to our beautiful city.