When Teresa Clements, Newcomer Development Co-ordinator for Father Hudson’s Care, gave a talk to the Justice and Peace Group at St Austin’s Catholic Church in Stafford, she had no idea what it might lead to.

Listening attentively were Jo Burrowes, Head of Newman and Wiseman Houses at Cardinal Griffin Catholic College, and the senior school’s Head Boy. Teresa’s message of welcome for newcomers resonated with them, and they were soon discussing how they could help with Teresa as well as Maureen Alecock of St Austin’s Parish.

The group’s plans came together on Friday 31 August 2018 with a unique collaborative day of activities at Cardinal Griffin in Cannock. Normally quiet during August, the school came alive for a day as students, parents, teachers, governors and volunteers from the school and parish of St Mary and St Thomas More all gathered to welcome a group of refugee families from Syria and neighbouring countries.

The families meet regularly in St Austin’s church hall in Stafford, but do not get many opportunities to visit new places together. The group of mothers and children were all delighted to have the opportunity of a day out, and grateful to the school for providing two minibuses With refreshments, family resources, crafts and sports activities, the day was filled with sounds of conversations and laughter as the two groups met and chatted.

For many attendees in Cannock it was their first experience of enjoying a social event alongside refugee families, as Cannock is an area where there are few refugee newcomers.

Jo Burrowes thanked all those who contributed food, clothing and their time. Maureen Alecock, who organised the day from the Stafford end, said there was no need to tell us how much the Stafford families enjoyed the day: it was evident in their smiling faces!