Refugee Week: Pilgrimage to honour sacrifice and survivors during walk from Sunderland through South Shields

Campaigners and survivors will lead a day-long walk from Sunderland and through South Shields as they recognise the plight of refugees.

By Fiona Thompson
Saturday, 15th June 2019, 6:22 pm
Last year's group setting out on the City of Sanctuary walk as part of Refugee Week.
Last year's group setting out on the City of Sanctuary walk as part of Refugee Week.

The City of Sanctuary walk will leave Sunderland Minster on Monday, June 17.

The group will pause at Marsden to remember those who tried to cross the Sahara and then again on the Shields Ferry, as they pay tribute to the thousands who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

This year's route will also take the campaigners across to North Tyneside via the Shields Ferry.

The 20km route will finish at a church in North Tyneside, where they will share a meal.

The campaigners are part of the national network of City of Sanctuary, which works in Sunderland to support language classes, run advocacy services and also pairs up with Amnesty International.

Reverend Chris Howson, chairman of Sunderland’s branch, said: “This event helps us focus on why people make such dangerous journeys to flee to places of safety, reflect on the wars they have escaped and the torture people have gone through.

“We know Sunderland can be a very welcoming place for asylum seekers and we know people are very supportive when they hear and understand these stories.

Reverend Chris Howson, who is chairman of Sunderland City of Sanctuary.

“This year we are working in conjunction with Lift the Ban, a campaign to allow people to work while they seek sanctuary.

“At the moment those in the system, be it a year or 10 years, are unable to work, which is a huge drain on the tax payer, and very emotionally difficult for people that are used to working.

“Sunderland has a rich history of welcoming refugees and we want people to know about that.”

Its other events on Wearside include a picnic at Sunderland Minster from noon next Sunday, June 23, while it will support a Refugees’ Got Talent show, being run by health organisation Fight Back, at Bede Tower on Thursday from 5pm.

Part of the group who took part in last year's walk as they celebrated survivors during Refugee Week.

A litter pick will be led by the International Organisation of Sunderland in Backhouse Park and a food celebration is to be held next Sunday, June 23 in conjunction with the Jo Cox Foundation.

The Friends of the Drop in for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (FORDI) is also holding sessions and health group Sangini is hosting a display at Mackie’s Corner from Wednesday.