ON THE EVENING of 23 February, I watched a live online show in aid of Asylum Link Merseyside. During that day the likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine increased alarmingly, and I had to choose whether to continue watching grim developments on the news, or to switch it off and pay full attention to the show. I chose the show, and I’m so glad I did.

All the entertainers and speakers who contributed were giving their time and talents freely, for a message they so clearly believed in with all their hearts and souls. The message that nobody chooses to be a refugee, that all anyone wants is a safe place to call home in which they can flourish, and that we all belong to one human family.

The contributors were many and varied, amateur and professional, from Merseyside and from numerous countries throughout the world. Sometimes the sound or picture quality wasn’t brilliant, as the charity is very much a hand to mouth operation. But every bit of it was encouraging and uplifting, because just by being part of something like this, everyone was testifying to the unity and solidarity of human beings, wherever they are born.

There was music from the Asylum Link choir (everyone welcome, no auditions) who sang songs from the Proclaimers and Bob Marley. There was the shocking revelation from screenwriter and children’s author Frank Cottrell-Boyce that on his first day at primary school, he kicked a nun – but he did think she was a Dalek, so it was entirely understandable. With music, songs and poetry from people who had come from all over the world and found a home in Liverpool, we were reminded of why Liverpudlians are called Scousers – scouse being a stew which is made from bringing lots of different ingredients together to produce something delicious and nourishing.

The next day, the news from Ukraine was distressing. But the memory of Asylum Link’s show was like a small light in the darkness –  practical proof that despite the manipulations of oligarchs and politicians, people of all nationalities can work together for the common good, and be full of love for one another. We really are just one human family.

The coming days may be fearful and depressing – who knows what horrors they may bring. In our own homes and communities we may feel powerless, that we cannot do anything to combat the darkness which seems as though it could overwhelm us. But Asylum Link and its vibrant, strong community of kindness shows us that we are not powerless. We do not have to exist within the narrow boundaries of our own national identities. It proves that we can all do something, however small, to help change lives for the better, to offer compassion to the victims of war, and in our own small ways to keep hope, solidarity and love alive.

* More information on Asylum Link Merseyside here



© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. Her latest book is Illness, Disability and Caring: A Bible study for individuals and groups (DLT, 2020).  Her latest articles can be found here. Past columns (up to 2020) are archived here. You can follow Bernadette on Twitter: @BernaMeaden