Column: I urge you to do whatever you can to help Afghan refugees
As a mother, I have watched with horror images of Afghan women passing babies over barbed wire into the hands of foreigners, says Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby.
I can’t imagine the depth of terror those women are facing, believing their child’s best chance of survival is being separated from everyone and everything they have ever known.
Similarly, the equally devastating decisions Afghan women being relocated to the UK are being forced to make.
As the last planes left Kabul airport amidst heartbreaking scenes, stories were already emerging about the disappearance of Afghan women from the streets and from public life - women to whom we had promised an education, the chance of a career and the same opportunity as men to participate in the life of their country.
Their fear of what comes next for themselves, and for their daughters in particular, is all too evident.
As a woman born and brought up in Glossop, I feel very privileged to have had a safe and secure childhood.
I’m aware of the sacrifices the women in my family made to ensure I had the best possible opportunities. 100 years ago, my nana left school aged 13 without qualification and went into domestic service while 60 years ago my mum was discouraged from attending university and, as a teacher, struggled for promotion to become a head.
I know that they too were inspired by other Derbyshire women such as Bess of Hardwick and Florence Nightingale.
When I became the first woman bishop in the Church of England, I commissioned the making of my episcopal ring out of Blue John to represent the people and places of Derbyshire who made me.
Through my ministry, I have sought to use the power and influence I have to make a bigger difference and transform lives for the good, intentionally investing in the development of women and advocating for the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people in our society.
Watching the plight of so many Afghan women and their children, I am determined to do whatever I can to help.
Churches across Derbyshire are working with the organisation ‘Welcome Churches’ to learn about cross cultural awareness and plan what kind of help and support we might offer any Afghans coming to Derbyshire. We are gathering practical resources to give to families such as clothing, toys, baby items, toiletries, mobile phones, pushchairs and more.
My faith teaches that all people are equal, known and loved by God. The Bible warns us not to oppress the stranger who comes and lives among us but to treat them as family, loving them as we love ourselves. We know that many of these particular Afghan families spent years supporting our troops and civilians in their country, often at great risk, now we have our chance to support them.
During the coming weeks we will have the privilege of offering a home to Afghan refugees in Derbyshire.
I urge you to do whatever you can to help them to settle and rebuild their lives and create a better future filled with hope for them and their children and the generations still to come.