Social Action Group
Social Action at Newcastle Reform Synagogue
The Social Action Group of Newcastle Reform Synagogue was set up in 2018 to make meaningful links with local charities working with Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Newcastle and Gateshead.
Some synagogue members already volunteered in charities working with refugees and the NRS community had previously been generous donors of dry foods, clothing and toiletries on an adhoc basis to support those in need.
Following a Mitzvah Day in 2018 when NRS invited speakers from 5 charities to talk about their experiences of being asylum seekers and refugees, a small group of synagogue members wanted to establish more regular contact with the charities and offer what support we could, both financial and practical.
To this end we set up the Social Action Group and hold regular and infrequent meetings, make visits to the charities we support and fundraise on their behalf. Members of the synagogue regularly provide dry food, clothing and toiletries whenever appeals are made by our charities and Mitzvah Day provides a focus for creative and engaging ways of introducing our Jewish community to what it means to live as an asylum seeker in the current hostile climate.
We never forget that we, too, were once refugees and it is in our DNA to identify with the traumatic experiences of those fleeing in fear from persecution. We know what it means to leave behind our families, lives and cultures to reach a hopefully safer and more welcoming environment.
Members of SAG recently took part in conusltation meetings to devise a strategy to support Newcastle as a City of Sanctuary and SAG is now exploring how NRS could apply to gain a Faith and Sanctuary award.
We have also become part of a Jewish contingent at the regular protests outside Derwentside Detention Centre. This is a recently opened place of detention for 84 women asylum seekers kept in custodial conditions with the intention of the government deporting them. These women are innocent of any criminal activity and are detained for unjust, unnecessary and inhumane administrative purposes.
On the first Sunday of each month there is an interfaith vigil which SAG and other members of NRS have begun to attend.
The 5 charities we support are;
WERS – West End Refugee Service
The Comfrey Project