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Mayor leads on city response to refugee crisis

11 September 2015

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Council Cllr Elisha McCallion is to lead on a co-ordinated city response to the refugee crisis, following a meeting with civic leaders yesterday.

The meeting, which was attended by church leaders,  elected representatives, community leaders, representatives from the business community, minority groups, Council officers and citizens, was held to discuss the current refugee crisis and to agree a city response to the issue.

The meeting was set up by the Mayor following her Rally of Solidarity at Guildhall Square last week in an effort o agree a joint and co-ordinated approach to the crisis.

Mayor McCallion says the people of the Derry City and Strabane District Council area are keen to do their bit to help those affected by the current refugee crisis and to get the message out there that it is a welcome house to refugees.

“Yesterday’s meeting was extremely well attended and a very worthwhile exercise to agree how we can work collectively on this issue. An open and multi-faceted group has been set up that will help co-ordinate all efforts across the Council area. We have agreed to embark on a scoping exercise to identify the capacity of the area to accommodate refugees, and what resources we have to provide for them. We will also be looking at the longterm sustainability of any plan that is agreed. The group will meet regularly over the coming weeks to agree a way forward,” she says.

Encouraging people to get involved in any way they can, the Mayor says, every small deed will make a difference.

“There are so many ways you can help. You can donate money directly to the Mayor’s Refugee Fund set up at the Guildhall  and at a number of Council venues or contribute generously to city centre collections that are scheduled to take place next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Further collections are planned and details will be available next week.

“If you have some free time and want to help, then you can contact the Mayor’s office at [email protected] or come along to the Guildhall on Monday next at 11.30 to help out with our city centre collections. Alternatively you can donate toiletries, clothing and blankets to the various community groups, churches and outlets across the city who have organised collection funds. One such initiative is the Calais Initiative where the public can donate items to a number of collection points including Templemore Sports Centre and a range of community facilities such as the Gasyard and Old Library Trust.

An online registration form where people can register to become a volunteer has also been set up and can be accessed via– www.derrystrabane.com/mayor

As a mother of three young children, Mayor Elisha McCallion says she has been personally touched by the refugee situation. ‘It is humbling to be able to offer any help at all in these difficult times. The people of Derry and Strabane are known for their generosity and their response to date has been phenomenal. I am in no doubt that the local community will continue to work together to provide the necessary help.”

The Mayor has also urged families across the Derry and Strabane areas to show their support by lighting a candle and placing it on their windowsills tonight, Friday from 8 to 9pm and sharing it on their social media channels using hashtag #ucanstayhere.
““This is a small but important gesture by the people of Derry and Strabane that they will not sit back and let this humanitarian issue pass us by. We want to help in whatever way we can and we are more than happy to welcome refugees to our city and region,” she said.

The Mayor urged the public to support the many events that are being organised across the city and district including the Trad for Trocaire event where local musicians are being encouraged to register to take part in a fundraising event – via
http://www.trocaire.org/trad

The Mayor concluded by extending an open invitation to the local community to support a Rally that is being organised by the local trade unions tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, departing from the Waterside Railway Station at 2pm.

Ends