On a beautiful summer’s afternoon in August, a group of wonderful young local people held a picnic for all of the Syrian families and their Hastonian friends on the spectacular West Hill in Hastings. They provided a fabulous feast, presents for the families, games, fun, and spontaneous and warm friendship. The event was the culminating project in the National Citizenship Service programme these young people had been attending over a period of 4 weeks, and it was in fact a model of what good citizenship looks like that they were demonstrating with this event. Their brief was to think of a project which would make a real contribution to their community; so Vincent Finlay and his team came up with the idea of inviting these families and all of their Buddies from the Hastings Refugee Buddy Project.
We were a large group – perhaps about 40 people, and the atmosphere was vibrant with conversations, laughter, and the children tearing around on their bikes, climbing the climbing frames, racing to the swings where the young students were ready to push them up into the blue sky… We adults sat or wandered around on the grassy area within the playground, and with the sun shining and the sea glistening below, this was a time for celebration and friendship – between old friends and also new ones.
The organisation required was considerable – inviting and making it possible for the families and buddies to come, ordering and collecting the food, arranging the financial aspects, working out who was going to do what – but it came together really well, and was all perfectly smooth on the day! And just now, we have heard that Vincent has been awarded Most Inspirational Project at his graduation event!
We in Hastings Community of Sanctuary are delighted to see young people becoming aware of our new fellow citizens now living in our community, and acting towards the families with such kindness, warmth and generosity.
Thank you to you all for a lovely day!