Brighton Voices in Exile, the organization which works from our Church for asylum seekers. Somehow people managed to get here from Worthing, Crawley, Peacehaven. There were Afghanis, Zimbabwians, Algierians, Iraqis some with horrendous stories of torture, rape, imprisonment, discrimination. Most are actually genuine, some in reality have stories far worst than they tell the immigration authorities. Gatherings like this are so important to them, our draconian laws mean that they are forbidden to work, even voluntarily. They subsist on £30 of vouchers a week, many are homeless, a few sleep in the open, others on friends floors. Loneliness and depression, living in constant fear of deportation are common amongst them.
Bishop Kieran Conry manage to drive down for the party, in places managing 1 or 2 miles an hour, just to spend time with them, in many ways he really is an exemplary pastor, who loves the poor.
The Red Cross supplied us with cosmetics like soap, toothpaste which most can't afford and the parish poor fund gave most of our last collection towards trying to buy gloves and scarves for everyone's Christmas stocking. What with our soup run which operates every day of the year it hads taken a bit of battering but the more we give, the more God provides through his people.