Today I observed an act of kindness in Coventry that simply restored my faith in humanity and made me proud of our City of Peace & Reconciliation. We have been working for the past two days with a family of four, a husband and a wife with two children, a five year old girl and an eight year old boy who have recently claimed asylum in the UK.
For the past two days my colleagues are working hard to find the family emergency accommodation through convincing social services and …the National Asylum Support. We paid for their accommodation from our Destitution Fund last night. Today social services said they will be able to find them accommodation from tomorrow but they cannot accommodate them tonight. We have been ringing hotels and B&Bs in Coventry until just after 8pm to find a shelter for the family but there were no vacancies at any of the hotels in Coventry. We were stuck and I kept thinking about my own five year old when I looked at the little girl. She looked so tired but the social services and Home Office will never see that. Their response was “it is very unfortunate but we can’t help tonight” and after 5pm their phones normally go to automated answer phones. We were frustrated as was the family and we didn’t know what to do.
A while ago a kind person who wanted to help refugees had left his details with our reception and had offered to accommodate refugees in an emergency.
I rang the number with a degree of hesitation but after a few rings a Mr Mann answered the phone. After hearing about the case, he said he is happy to house the family for a night at one of his properties. This was like winning the Lottery and Mr Mann had already rushed to the property ahead of us to turn on the heating and to welcome the family.
At the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre we work with people irrespective of their faith and cultural background but for the purposes of this post, I must say that the family is from a Muslim background whilst Mr Mann who gave them shelter is a Sikh.
So whatever conflicts there might be between people, cultures and faiths around the world, tonight a Sikh guy proudly welcomed a Muslim family to his house. This is what makes Coventry so special and the work of CRMC so important and I can now go to sleep as I know a family with young children will not sleep on the streets.
I love my job, my amazing team and the generous people of Coventry.