Asylum Seekers / Refugees

Derby Cathedral on Homeless Sunday, and recipient of “Cathedral of Sanctuary Award”

6X4A2926The service at the Cathedral, today, had the theme of “Homeless Sunday” and the Bishop of Derby, the Right Reverend Dr Alastair Redfern reflected on some of the issues around homelessness.

His own experience of operating a Nightshelter in the 1980s was something he considered, at the time, with great optimism. He’d hoped that there work would be short-lived and would be just a bridging position whilst the authorities made the necessary changes to eradicate homelessness. In hindsight, this was perhaps naive, but who would have thought 30 years later the position would actually be worse than in those distant days.

He suggested that there were 4 issues to consider in understanding  homelessness:

1. Economic – the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and the inequitable distribution of resources

2. Political – the perspective of political parties between a caring, organised society, looking after the needy, versus a more individualistic approach. A danger being potentially present that the welfare system may not be catching people early enough before they drop into a property poverty.

3. Social – before the industrialisation of the country, society was more open, people were more neighbourly, and now barriers have been established, and we are locked in our own self-contained spaces; in many cases for good reason. Local organisations do their best to break down some of these walls in a sensitive and safe way.

4. Moral – about fairness, loving one’s neighbours, and valuing other human beings. The Bishop recounted the story of when he was part of a “reverse” soup run. This involved people who had been homeless and had benefitted from the community’s generosity, offering hot drinks to any passer-by in the town centre. More often than not, they were given a wide-berth, and met with cynicism as to why it was being offered for free. The concern was that we have now all become strangers.

In summary, homelessness is the “scourge of a so-called civilised society”

Later in the service the Cathedral was awarded the 1st “Cathedral of Sanctuary” in England.

Rose McCarthy of the “City of Sanctuary” organisation presented a certificate to Revd Maureen Priddin ( on behalf of the Cathedral) under the Faith Streams of sanctuary.

The Faiths Stream of Sanctuary is still new and has evolved from a recognition of how many faith groups support the City of Sanctuary movement and open their doors to sanctuary seekers, often providing significant practical support that makes a real difference to the lives of sanctuary seekers.

The certificate commits the Cathedral to offering a place of welcome to everyone, especially asylum seekers and refugees.


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