Support for refugees highlighted at event

Pictured, from left, are Coun Joan Tebbutt, Ian Lavery MP, Ruhi Akhtar and Coun Alison Byard.
Pictured, from left, are Coun Joan Tebbutt, Ian Lavery MP, Ruhi Akhtar and Coun Alison Byard.

Town residents showed their humanitarian side when Sanctuary Network Morpeth held its very first fund-raising fair.

More than £1,000 was donated to various different organisations and individuals. The money will go to support a range of projects that will help refugees and asylum seekers.

In addition, Morpeth Lions Club raised over £700 towards the project it is involved in – supporting a hospital in Lebanon where about 200 Syrian children injured in the conflict in their country are awaiting life-changing surgery and prosthetic limbs.

Information was provided about the various projects being supported and the British Red Cross was present to give details about its family reunification scheme.

The event was opened by Morpeth’s MP, Ian Lavery, and town Mayor Alison Byard.

Coun Byard praised the organisations and individuals involved for making such an effort and Mr Lavery highlighted the real plight of refugees and asylum seekers and said Morpeth could be proud of its support for these people.

Geoff Bushell, of Morpeth Lions, said: “It was a pleasure to work with such nice folk. A real success for all who took part today and huge thanks to the generous and kind people of Morpeth who never fail to support us.”

An appeal for medication and first aid equipment was put out by Ruhi Akhtar and there was a fantastic response. She will be going down to a camp in Dunkirk, where conditions are even worse than at Calais and there are at least 10 pregnant women living there.

Chest infections and flu are rife in the cold conditions.

Ruhi said: “It was an amazing day. I didn’t expect us to raise so much.

“Other than the funds raised, it was a really lovely day with some lovely people. I am particularly delighted with the response to my appeal for medication – I will ensure it is put to good use.”

Morpeth Rotary Club, Morpeth Churches Together, The Justice and Peace Refugee Project, Morpeth Lions Club, students from King Edward VI School and various individuals responded to Morpeth Town Council’s commitment, made in September, to offer support to those helping refugees and asylum seekers.

Coun Joan Tebbutt set up Sanctuary Network Morpeth so that the various groups could exchange information and work together.

With assistance from the Deputy Mayor, Coun Andrew Tebbutt, she worked with a team of representatives of the various organisations to set up the event, which was supported by Morpeth Town Council.

“The public response was not only positive but highly supportive of our efforts,” said Coun Joan Tebbutt.

“I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for people and families to have to leave everything they know and own and go into an unknown future.

“We are not asking anyone to take their support away from people in need here, but those who supported us on Saturday are probably amongst those who already offer their support elsewhere.”

For more information about the network and to offer assistance with projects, call her on 01670 511631 or email