The Mayor’s speech

The Mayor of Todmorden gave the following speech at the Welcome festival on 16th September:
Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here at the Welcome Festival of Together We Grow, today.
Thank you for inviting me, and giving the Mayoress, Lynne, and myself a chance to see the valuable work being carried out by Together We Grow.
We live in troubled times with unprecedented numbers of people being forced to leave their homes and even their families to seek safety elsewhere.
Here for example, in this country, in Yorkshire.
So any reaching out to newcomers is welcome. Any understanding of the difficulties and the stress of leaving the familiar for the unknown is to be applauded and supported.
But how can this be achieved?
By a small group reaching out in friendship, firstly, by providing opportunities for friendships amongst asylum seekers, by offering activities and outings which are both interesting and useful. In short, by socialising – getting together, doing things together, preferably both beneficial and FUN!
And secondly, of equal importance. It involves the local community in that welcome by providing opportunities for everyone to meet and interact with asylum seekers.
Working together and playing together leads to better communication which is a much desired outcome.
Many of the woes of this world today are caused by lack of communication and interaction. Sometimes the challenge seems overwhelming.
But Margaret Mede, a well known anthropologist said, ‘never think that one person cannot change the world. It is the only way to do it.’
And this is what Together we Grow is doing, one visit at a time, one packet of seeds planted, one fruit tree established, one shared meal or one connection made through shared activities. Slowly making a difference.
And the influence spreads.
Until those who had been strangers are friends, no longer to be described as refugees or asylum seekers but friends
known for being part of the community they live in, valued for themselves.
So I hope the word, and the work will continue to spread and I hope Together We Grow will be honoured as the Best New Charity in the Community Spirit Awards 2017 to be decided on 28 September.
Thank you for inviting us.