Barry Morgan, the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, will be mucking in to help create a 'Sanctuary Garden' at the Royal Horticultural Society Cardiff Flower Show on 15 April, as part of a new venture to support asylum seekers.
He says that the garden is a novel way of showing that care for the destitute and refugees is an important and integral part of the Christian message.
The garden draws on the experience of people who have come to Cardiff looking for sanctuary. It brings together local people, refugees, designer Rob Hughes, landscaper Paul Melvin and the support of 11 churches in the Cardiff ecumenical group.
Gill Peace, from Whitchurch, Rhiwbina and Birchgrove Churches Together (WRBCT), said: “At the heart of our garden is a sanctuary area. This is a horticultural demonstration of the safety refugees flee to Wales for. Our plants and landscapes visually show the conflict many people escape, the rocky and winding route towards Britain."
She continued: "Refugees are an important part of the church and we wanted to celebrate their courage, but also their plight. We will publicising the Living Ghosts campaign of Church Action on Poverty. It is a crying shame that people seeking asylum are not allowed to help themselves and the country, through paid work. They are even banned from helping create this garden.”
Alan Thornton, from Church Action on Poverty commented: “The churches in Cardiff have created this striking garden which vividly portrays the tortuous journey many refugees have to get here.
"Britain has a long history of giving sanctuary to people fleeing persecution and torture. Unfortunately the UK Government is pushing many people seeking or refused asylum into shadowy existences of destitution. They become literally 'living ghosts'.
"We believe that allowing them to help themselves and society through paid work would be in keeping with the command of Jesus to offer a 'welcome to strangers' (Matthew 25).”
The garden will be visited by Cardiff's Mayor, Kate Lloyd, and the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Barry Morgan, who will also "dig in".
The Archbishop said: “As a civilised society we have to act with compassion and humanity to those who look to us for help. There is a tendency in Britain to see asylum seekers as pariahs and to resent them being here. But in reality these are people in desperate need and we have a moral obligation to help them and to give them sanctuary where we can.”
The RHS Spring Flower Show is at Bute Park, Cardiff Castle, 17 – 19 April 2009. It is open 10-5:30pm. http://tinyurl.com/cz92xw