I hope that you are enjoying life and that this cold snap is not being ruined by the thought of the damage it is doing to your bank balance. If it is, you can console yourself with this happy thought. Because of your generosity, a whole bunch of refugees and their families have had an extra bit of help with their heating bills. We chose to use our contingency solidarity fund to distribute £5000 to people newly settled in the UK struggling with their heating costs. It’s the sort of thing that makes all the hard work keeping this charity going worth it. You truly are helping to make homes.
Do remember that if you want to further support this work and tell your friends all about it, you can do so with the magic of an electronic Christmas card. You can buy them through our website here. We like to think that it is an excellent way sharing the love this Christmas. I might be a Jew, but sharing love and joy seems to be the essence of Christmas. I am definitely down with that.
Speaking about love and joy (and also giving money), the Sussex Refugee and Migrant Self Support group’s Jollof Café has a winter appeal. The best way to support the café is to come along for lunch, whether or not you can afford to chip in. It’s just a lovely community. You can find it at the West Hill Hall every Wednesday lunchtime. Unfortunately, not everybody is free between 13:00 and 15:00 on a weekday. Also unfortunately, running a café is not free. The West Hill are really supportive, but they do need to cover their costs and large numbers of the inhabitants of Home Office hotels come along. If you’re on £8/week, you can’t go spending money on cheap lunches out. They need a bit of help from the community to keep the project ticking over. If you can chip in, the café will be able to run for another year.
A Cliché to be Cynical at Christmas
I absolutely love Christmas. This may be because it has never been a
festival I have celebrated with my family (although I doubt that, Pesach
is my top festival, and that is very much celebrated with my family).
It just seems right that we have a little pause in the deep midwinter
and we manage to remember what life is actually about, love, community
and making room at the inn. I am aware of all the bad stuff, horrible
pressures to make things perfect for your children, rampant consumerism,
waste galore and so on, but the fundamentals are so spot on. We try to
share. We try to treat the world as it there is an abundance, as if
there is more than enough.
Of course, there is more than enough. It’s just that too many of us, too much of the time, want too many material things. I am a ridiculous human being. I am constantly amazed by how fulfilling I find spending time in mutually supportive communities to be. I do it a lot. It happens in my own house. People with next to nothing come round and share what very little they have. It is more than enough. I am comforted and given security by having a community of people who love me and by being part of networks that are prepared to take a chance on the stranger. I should not have to wait for Christmas to realise how rich I am.
Now, it helps that I am safely housed. Indeed I own my own flat. I cannot deny that it is this basic material stability which allows me to take such a romantic view of the world. But that’s one very good reason why what you do is so important. People who are forced to leave their homes and who want to make a new life for themselves in the UK need that material stability. They need a home. You might say that a home is a house that is safe. It’s a space where you belong and belonging is a matter of having a community who love to you and networks that are prepared to take a chance on you. It’s what you have been providing by being part of this little community.
Lots of Little Lights
The world seems to be growing dark. It is full of pain and suffering, but everywhere I look people are putting up little strings of fairy lights. Some of them are garish. Some of them are pretty. All of them bring a little bit of light and joy into the world. T4K is one little fairy light in a whole network of illumination. We will have to expand it in the New Year, but for now it’s time to pause and enjoy what there because what you have done is already more than enough. I wish you a very peaceful Christmas and a joyous New Year.
A thousand thanks,
Jacob and all of us @T4K