Miss Lakeland, a modern launch on Windermere with super-imposed logo of Mitzvah Day

Afghan refugees welcomed on board

Published: 4th December 2021
Categories: Media Release

Refugees from Afghanistan who’ve recently resettled in Cumbria have been welcomed on board one of Windermere Lake Cruises’ vessels as part of Mitzvah Day - a special Jewish-led community day of social action.

The international, interfaith event brings together groups of people from all walks of life and local events were hosted in Hawkshead on Sunday, November 21st.

Organisers have worked with local attractions including Windermere Lake Cruises – and local communities - to give Cumbria’s newest residents the cruise experience as part of a weekend of relaxation and enjoyment.

Organiser Abigail Mann says, “We want this Mitzvah Day event to help the refugees with integration, language and to develop relationships with the local community. The refugees have had little opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings in which they find themselves and we’re so grateful to Windermere Lake Cruises for kindly donating this trip out on Windermere. The refugees are all different ages and have had differing experiences. The aim is to give the refugees an enjoyable day out and to create lasting memories for everyone involved.”

📷: Please note we're protecting the refugees identities by not showing their faces in photographs

Some Afghan refugees enjoying theit first cruise on Lake Windermere

After the cruise, from Lakeside to Ambleside, the refugees travelled to Hawkshead where local residents prepared typical English Afternoon Tea for everyone. Produce was donated by local companies including Hawkshead Relish and the Chocolate Factory. The event was also attended by the High Sheriff of Cumbria David Beeby.

Abigail says: “The response we’ve had from local residents in Hawkshead has been incredible. They know from previous events how this can make such a difference to the lives of refugees.

“Having had a similar Mitzvah Day event in 2018 they saw the lasting effect it had on everyone. The Syrian refugees who were involved then still talk about that day.”

A refugee taking a photograph from the outer viewing decks

Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, says, “We were delighted to welcome this group of refugees from Afghanistan on board one of our vessels. Thousands of men, women and children have risked their lives to flee their country to find peace.

“Mitzvah Day is an important community event and Cumbria itself is very much a county where community spirit thrives. We feel privileged to be in a position where we can offer them this experience.”

James Cartwright, Chair of Carlisle Refugee Action Group, says: “We are delighted that refugees in Cumbria are benefitting from this cruise on Windermere, generously donated by Windermere Lake Cruises. It’s a memorable experience for all the refugees and an opportunity to visit the beautiful Lake District. It’s a special day out for them.”

Kelly Davis, Chair of West Cumbria Refugee Support Network, says: “This is a wonderful chance for our new arrivals from Afghanistan to experience the beauty of the Lake District and receive a warm welcome from the people of Cumbria.”

Dave Plumb, coordinator of the refugee support group in Kendal says: "This is a great initiative to welcome recently arrived Afghan families to our fantastic Lake District, but also for them to make contact and friendships with others who may be living in different parts of Cumbria."

The High Sheriff of Cumbria David Beeby says: “I am delighted to play my part in welcoming these refugees to Cumbria. I hope that we can all find it in our hearts to give a warm Cumbrian welcome to these refugees who are seeking to find a new, safe, home in our County”

Meeting the High Sherriff of Cumbria, David Beeby

As part of Mitzvah Day, volunteers are collecting laptops which will be refurbished and distributed to refugees resettling in Cumbria. For anyone wishing to donate - HSBC branches across Cumbria are setting up laptop donation points in their branches. Laptops need to be no more than 6 years old, in working order with built in webcams and speakers and have chargers. Qualified IT engineers can volunteer to join the team refurbishing laptops at this email address contact@cowc.co.uk.

Find out more about Mitzvah Day (external link)

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