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Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Justice and PeaceJustice and Peace Team

Head of Justice and Peace: Fr. Chris Hughes
St. Joseph, Wallsend Road, Chirton, North Shields NE29 7AA

tel: 0191 257 5801 or email: chris1707hughes@live.co.uk

Phil Watson, Chair of the Justice and Peace Co–ordinating Council. Email: philipwatson83@outlook.com.


The Diocesan Justice and Peace Co–ordinating Council is elected at the AGM each year from people active in Justice and Peace work across the Diocese. For news of the AGM on Saturday 24 October please click here.

We exist to encourage commitment to action for Justice and Peace in light of the Gospel message and teaching of the Catholic Church. Our main objective is to foster the growth of this work within parishes and partnerships and to encourage the use of the four stages of the Pastoral Cycle i.e. Study/Experience, Analysis, Prayer/Spiritual Reflection and Action.

Please contact us if you require help.

Contacts:

J & P Donations Gift Aid Contact and Treasurer: Marjory Knowles tel: 07929 343418 or by email: marjory.knowles@gmail.com.

NB. If you would like to set-up a regular donation, please download, complete and return the forms at the base of this page.


Download the latest edition of the Diocesan Justice & Peace Newsletter (Spring 2021).


Diocesan Refugee Project:

Refugee Project Update:

The Refugee Project is now operating from our new premises at St. Vincent’s Support Centre, New Bridge Street, Newcastle NE1 2TQ supporting an increased number of clients each month.

As many parishes have not yet been able to resume food collections we are finding it difficult to meet the demand for food from existing stock and are having to purchase many additional items. We understand the difficulties in collecting food items in parishes at present but anything that you can do to assist would be very much appreciated.

The list of items we are currently collecting is available here. We are delighted to receive items on Mondays between 10.30 and 1.30, unless a prior arrangement has been made with Sara. We very much welcome financial contributions too and details can be found below.

The project is supported by over 20 volunteers who attend at least once a week. It is thanks to their hard work and dedication that we are able to receive deliveries, prepare, pack and distribute food bags and provide significant quantities of non-food items. They also signpost clients to other services for advice with housing, legal and welfare issues. We are currently looking for more volunteers to join the team – so please spread the word.

One of the benefits of being at St. Vincent’s is the ability to work more closely with the SVP meaning that clothing and non-food items donated to the SVP are available to our clients too. Please note that due to storage space, the SVP are not currently able to accept further clothing items until the beginning of May.

Donations:

Details of the Project’s Bank Account are; DHN, Justice & Peace Refugee Project sort code 40–34–18, account number 52854058. Alternatively, cheques made payable to DHN, Justice & Peace Refugee Project can also be sent to Sara Harris, Justice and Peace Refugee Project Co-ordinator, St. Vincent’s Support Centre, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2TQ.

Regular donations by standing order can be made by completing the mandate and returning it to you bank. Taxpayers can also complete the gift aid declaration and return this to our treasurer, Marjory Knowles tel: 07929 343418 or by email: marjory.knowles@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support for the Refugee Project. For more details about our work and how you can support it, please contact Sara Harris by email: sara.harris@diocesehn.org.uk or tel: 07407 091184.

Contacts:

Newcastle:

Project Co–ordinator: Sara Harris email: sara.harris@diocesehn.org.uk or tel: 07407 091184

Stockton:

Project Contact: Rachel Wing tel: 01642 883 369


Quick links:

Click on the following quick links to jump to the section detailed.

Campaign
(incl. news of latest campaigns)

Donations
(how you can donate to our refugee project)

Events

Links
(incl. National Justice and Peace website and Housing Justice website)

News

Social and Environmental Justice Policy

Training
(incl. Catholic Social Teaching and CST Newsletter)


Campaign:

Concern about the rights of those seeking asylum in the UK:

The Justice & Peace Co-ordinating Council has written to the Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration in response to the call for evidence on the use of Hotels, camps and Barrack as contingency accommodation.

The Council has expressed concern at how the new arrangements mean that the Government, at a time of a national pandemic, is separating people into substandard camps without essential human services. These undermine human dignity and make the people who are forced to live there the targets for far–right groups.

This letter also drew attention to the fact that the contractor for the Napier Barracks and Penally sites, despite a poor track record in terms of the standards of provision and liaising with local communities, is still set to make a one billion pound profit during the lifetime of the current contract.

The letter calls for greater consultation with the voluntary sector and local community groups who have been marginalised in this process. It also drew attention to the way that these camps have been set up without engagement with local authorities and the lack of integrated health care and no potable water in the camps. The camps have also resulted in additional policing costs which have not been funded.

JPCC believes strongly in the need for newly arrived people in the UK to be treated with respect and dignity. It does not matter how people arrive, nor should they be deterred.

The Council, in line with Church teaching, stressed the sanctity of the person and that but that the state should always afford people the opportunity to make their case for asylum in the UK. The letter emphasises that we are a signatory to the UN Geneva Convention and that all human beings need to have their human rights acknowledged and upheld.

The Council believes that the current arrangements are designed to work against these principles. In the last 3 months there have been reports of four people attempting suicide in the camps and a deterioration in mental health and a lack of access to legal representation to pursue their claims. We call for their closure.

Within the letter, and reflecting on the experiences over many years of working locally with people seeking asylum, the Council also took the opportunity to draw attention to situations whereby people are often actively dissuaded from exercising their legal right to seek asylum and those who are unsuccessful in their claims are left destitute and without support.

The letter also identified the increasing use by the local contractor of poor quality hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation. These often mean people have to share poorly ventilated rooms in premises which have low standards of cleanliness and poor quality (and culturally inappropriate) food. The letter also pointed to the lack of space for people to socially isolate and the lack of hand hygiene facilities.

Update (March 2021):

Thanks to the many people who have written to their MPs about the need to house people seeking asylum in suitable accommodation rather than in army barracks.

We are sad to report that there is now an intention to open a detention centre for women seeking asylum on the site of the infamous Medomsley detention centre just outside Consett (now renamed Hassockfield). The Justice & Peace Co–ordinating Council, along with many other groups, condemn this proposal as inhumane and unnecessary.

There are things we can all do. One of these is to write to our local MP, expressing concerns about the use of barracks and camps. You may wish to use this specimen letter. If you send this by email to your MP, please ensure you add your home address. This link will enable you to find out your MP, their address or email contact.

Thank you for your support.


Events:

Events will feature here when announced.


News:

International Conference “A Politics Rooted in the People

This international conference was held on Thursday 15 April 2021. Organised by the Centre for Theology and Community, in which Catholic parishioners, priests and theologians involved in community organising gathered to discuss his new book 'Let Us Dream, A Path to a Better Future'.

Pope Francis sent a video message to the conference in which he explains,

In 'Let Us Dream' I call this a “politics with a capital P”, politics as service, which opens new pathways for the people to organise and express itself. It is a politics not just for the people, but with the people, rooted in their communities and in their values."

You can view the Pope's Video, along with all the video testimonies from the Conference here.

 


Justice and Peace AGM

About 30 people joined the Justice and Peace Co-ordinating Council AGM by Zoom on Saturday 24 October. There was a short business meeting with reports from the outgoing chair, Veronica Whitty, an end of year financial statement and a report from the steering group of the Justice and Peace Refugee Project. We were very encouraged by Bishop Robert Byrne’s message to our attendees and his thanks for the witness that we give in the Diocese.

He writes that,

As Christians our desire to see a world in which justice and peace prevail is not merely a political slogan, but a way in which we witness to our faith. For us, justice is found in our search for the truth which is ultimately found in God and peace is the gift which springs from our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why justice and peace are at the heart of the gospel message which liberates humanity. At the same time, we know that the task we set ourselves is one which many do not wish to hear. However, our faith teaches us that we must win hearts and minds if our message is to be heard and this can be a slow process. We must never lose heart.

We were then joined by James Buchanan of Operation Noah, a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change. James talked to us on the theme of “Responding to the Climate/Environmental Crisis”.

Fr. Adrian Tuckwell then gave us an overview of the establishment of Caritas within the diocese and Fr Chris Hughes updated us about the work of Tyne and Wear Citizens.

Finally, Lya Vollering of the Eco Community at Minsteracres described the work and hopes of the eco community and then led us in closing meditations and prayer.

A report of the meeting and links to the reports presented can be accessed here (pdfdoc).


Tyne and Wear Citizens.

For all the latest news and details of upcoming events please take a look at our Tyne and Wear Citizens page.

A Diocesan Social and Environmental Justice policy has been approved by the Diocesan Board. For more information and the policy document, please visit the policy section.

Laudato Si’: The American Bishops have issued a good discussion guide on the document


Social and Environmental Justice Policy:

Hearing the Cry of the Poor and the Earth:

The Diocesan Board of Directors approved a policy for Social and Envionmental Justice within the Diocese.

The policy was drafted by the Diocesan Justice and Peace Co-ordinating Council with valuable advice from the staff at the Centre for Catholic Studies and Salford Caritas. This policy is a response to Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ with his call for an ‘Integral Ecology’, where in seeking the Common Good for the whole of God's creation, Pope Francis challenges us to hear and respond both to the cries of the earth and the poor. The policy, called ‘Hearing the Cry of the Poor and the Earth’, outlines activites we can undertake as part of our communal response in parishes. The policy also highlights our own personal responsibilities in sustaining the Common Good, the dignity of the human person and what Pope Francis states in his undertanding of the earth's ecology, ‘Our Common Home’.

The policy is also available to view online with images or download to print as a booklet.

Please contact the Justice and Peace Co–ordinating Council if you have any queries about this.


Training:

Catholic Social Teaching:

The purpose of the recently formed Northern Catholic Social Teaching (CST) Study Group is to learn what the Church has to say about our world and how we live together. Catholic Social Teaching addresses the big issues confronting us – work, the environment, family life, poverty, justice - and in the words of Pope John Paul II, provides us with,

a basis and motivation for action”.

The Group studies CST using the Virtual Plater CST Gateway. Although it is a study group, the emphasis is on the practical application of CST.

To join the Group or to find out more, contact Louise Harrison on 07532 309745.

Catholic Social Teaching monthly newsletter:

Catholic Social Teaching have their own monthly newsletter bringing a variety of information from its members of how CST has helped them and examples of CST in action around the Diocese. You can read or download the latest issue (May 2021) here (pdfword).


Donations:

Donations for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Justice and Peace Refugee Project and Destitute Asylum Fund are most welcome. Regular donations by standing order can be made by completing the mandate and returning it to you bank.

Taxpayers can also complete the gift aid declaration and return to our treasurer, Marjory Knowles tel: 07929 343418 or by email: marjory.knowles@gmail.com.

Many thanks for all your help, prayers and support.


Links:

Justice and Peace National Site: www.justice-and-peace.org.uk external link

Housing Justice Site: www.housingjustice.org.uk/