A Heart for Refugees

Juliet Stevenson, Michael Palin and the Archbishop of Canterbury were among the first of thousands across Britain to put time aside for refugees as part of a campaign to acknowledge their contribution to the country.

A group of charities – including Refugee Action and the Red Cross – encouraged the public to carry out one of 20 "simple acts". From inviting a refugee for tea, to cooking a foreign dish or learning another language, authors, comedians and actors have helped to complete more than 2,000 acts already, with thousands more expected.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who undertook one of the simple acts by spreading the word about the concept of refuge, said: "Receiving refugees is not a matter of somebody signing papers in some remote office. It's a matter of making friends with new neighbors; it's a matter of turning strangers into a part of the community, and that's done most just by treating them normally, as part of a fabric of the life of this country, this community."

According to the most recent figures, there are just under 300,000 refugees living in the UK. Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: "The Simple Acts campaign is all about people taking one or two small, easy actions that will make a world of difference to the lives of refugees in the UK."

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