The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion, officially launched her campaign to help refugees affected by the current migrant crisis in Guildhall Square on Monday evening.
Hundreds of people attended the launch of the campaign, which had been organised in conjunction with Irish aid charity Trocaire.
Local politicians, trade unionists, community workers and ordinary people made up the crowd.
Mayor McCallion told the crowd how they could get involved with the campaign and called on anyone interested in volunteering to contact the Mayor’s office directly.
“As of today [Monday] there will be a static collection point at the Guildhall where people can come and donate money,” Mayor McCallion told the ‘Journal’.
“We will also be organising a number of street collections next week but for this to work we need members of the public to give up some of their time and volunteer. So if anyone thinks they could give up an hour or two next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday all they have to do is contact my office and we will co-ordinate the rest,” she added.
Mayor McCallion also appealed to local bar owners to get in contact if they would be interested in hosting a traditional night of Irish music with all proceeds going to the Trocaire appeal. The initiative is being labelled ‘Trad for Trocaire’.
Finally, Derry and Strabane’s First Citizen made an appeal for people to light a candle and place it at a window between 8:00p.m. and 9:00p.m. on Friday evening. Mayor McCallion asked anyone taking part in the initiative to take a photo of the candle, write a short message and post in on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook with the following hashtag #UCanStayHere
North West Regional Officer for Trocaire, Roisin O’Hara, also addressed the crowd and explained how donations will be used to help the most vulnerable of people fleeing places such as the war torn Middle East, Syria and Afghanistan.
Waterside Parish Priest and spokesperson for the Derry Diocese, Fr. Michael Canny echoed the words of Pope Francis when he said he believed every parish within the diocese could welcome one or two refugee families into their local communities.
Lilian Seenoi, a Kenyan refugee, arrived in Derry in 2010 and she told the crowd how the people of the city gave her a place she could call home again and called on politicians both North and South to do more to help refugees. Ms. Seenoi is the founder of the North West Migrants Forum.
If you would like to contact the Mayor of Derry and Strabane’s Office telephone 028 7138 2204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org