The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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November 2017

'Welcoming the Stranger’ – the launch event

Sheena Ginnings

Hampstead Parish Church and Churches Together in Hampstead are applying to become Community Sponsors for two refugee families. Our two projects were well and truly launched on 13th October.

Tulip Siddiq our MP and Neil Jameson the head of Citizens UK came and spoke, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Mayor of Camden Cllr Richard Cotton both sent their best wishes.

The audience was greeted by a group of our young people teaching the audience words of greeting in Arabic and then three young Syrian refugees, who are learning to speak English, each got up and spoke eloquently of their lives and their hopes for the future.

Rafidah Al-zeer, a Syrian living in London, spoke emotionally about her grandmother who has lived in the same village in Syria all her life and has now had to flee from it, and John Willmer and Bill Risebero gave a moving recital of poems written by victims of torture.

We listened to the beautiful rhythms of Mohammed Sarrar a singer and jambe player from Sudan, and I will remember for a long time Merit Ariane’s beautiful voice singing words from the ‘Song of Songs’ in Aramaic.

When it was all over everyone was able to talk over drinks and falafel  wraps made by us under the experienced eye of Suzi Cartledge’s lovely mother Mary, who is now living in London.

If you would like to know more about our project or would like to receive our occasional newsletter please email

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