Refugees who have settled in Teesdale have been welcomed to Marrick Priory, the Outdoor Education and Residential Centre in Swaledale near Richmond which is affiliated to the diocese.
An activity day for a large group of women and children was jointly organised by the Marrick Priory staff and ‘2Dales Action for Refugees’ a local organisation set up to welcome refugees to Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
The children who came had an opportunity to try out some of the challenging outdoor education pursuits offered by Marrick. For many of the participants these activities (including archery), were a first.
The day was also an opportunity to bring two groups of craftswomen together from the Dales and from Stockton. The focus of the day was a collaboration producing a number of 18inch embroidered squares to be included in a peace blanket on the theme of ‘Peace and what it means to you’. The peace blanket will go on display later this year around the region.
Funmi, one of the visitors from Stockton and a contributor to the Peace Blanket, spoke movingly about the difference being part of a women’s craft group has made in her life:
“I have friends; I feel I can trust people in the group; they give me support and backup and that helps me deal with the loneliness I feel. It is a haven for me”.
The Dales craft group also enjoyed meeting and making new friends. This was summed up by one participant when she said, “It was great to enjoy the scenery, sunshine, company and 'day away' time. And another: “A day bathed in love - from and for each other” and it was “Lovely to meet new people, enjoy the sunshine, sew, chat and make new friends.”
Di from Stockton said, “What a wonderful welcome and what inspiring instructors. We were made so welcome and I know the young people (including the young Mums), really enjoyed the activities. The youngsters also appreciated the opportunity to try something new:
“I've never done anything like this before - it was great.”
It was “awesome, extraordinary, unforgettable, fun!”
At the end of the day, the feelings of one visitor spoke for all when she said,
“I feel that we have started a life-long relationship and I look forward to what we can do together in the future”