Shuls join multi-faith campaign to lobby for refugee support
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Shuls join multi-faith campaign to lobby for refugee support

Harrow Citizens event organised by Rabbi Naomi Goldman seeks to lobby councillors on housing, mental health provision and refugee settlement

Faith and community leaders at the Harrow Citizens event lobbying councillors for better refugee support. Photo credit: Gwil Davey
Faith and community leaders at the Harrow Citizens event lobbying councillors for better refugee support. Photo credit: Gwil Davey

Synagogues in and around Harrow have joined a local multi-faith action group set up this week to lobby councillors on housing, mental health provisions and refugee settlement.

Jews joined Muslims and Christians to found Harrow Citizens at an event organised by Rabbi Naomi Goldman which included Kol Chai Hatch End Synagogue and Northwood-Pinner Liberal Synagogue, whose members made up 20 percent of the 350 people who turned out.

Fellow organiser Peter Lewy said there was a determination to take the councillors to task and turn their answers into “action on the ground”.

At the emotionally-charged launch, a Syrian refugee stood up in an ode to Barnet’s local council, who have housed several families, and called for Harrow Council – which has so far settled none – to do the same.

Faith and community leaders at the Harrow Citizens event lobbying councillors for better refugee support. Photo credit: Gwil Davey

Much of the dialogue pivoted on mental health services, with former Rabbi and Harrow Citizens co-founder Michael Hilton demanding that services recognise not only “symptoms” but also “failure”.

Hilton, whose sister committed suicide in 2014 after her risk was “not properly assessed,” gave a “damning indictment” of the current system but commended the warm cooperation between the three faiths, particularly Muslims and Jews, whose working relationships he acknowledged was often knotted with “tension.”

Summing up the event, which was attended by Labour and Tory local councillors Sachin Shah and Norman Stevenson, Hilton paraphrased the Jewish sage Hillel, adding: “The time for action is now.”

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