A special day for all in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley
Day trips and walks organised by Revive and other charitable groups mean such a lot to our service users – but they can also have a profound effect on our volunteers. Earlier this month, we headed up to Clitheroe in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley – here volunteer Pat Greenall shares her experience.
On Saturday last in mid-July I arrived eager and early in the car park at St Brigid’s Church, Grey Mare Lane to join over 90 members of Revive, a collective project for refugees, asylum seekers, workers and volunteers for a grand day out to Clitheroe. We had responded with great enthusiasm to the invitation from The Clitheroe Christian and Muslim community, who together were extending friendship and hospitality to our service users. Days out are fun, engaging and distracting – they offer a break from the stresses and difficulty many face back in the city centre, often in beautiful natural surroundings. Today would be no different – as we headed up to one of the Ribble Valley’s most cherished towns.
Clitheroe is busy and vibrant – set in rolling green Lancashire fields on the banks of The River Ribble. It boasts some industry in The Hanson Cement Works with its lime kilns and the former ICI Chemical Works, some exciting shops and a historic market place with a castle on top. For me this fine town near The Trough of Bowland held familial connections through my great grandparents, The Hothersalls. My mother had talked fondly of Ellen and Tom and I had seen sepia pictures of them.
Rural Clitheroe was a great place for our day’s adventure. For inner city dwellers residing within the regeneration areas of Beswick and Salford it was literally a breath of fresh air. The invitation included different activities for participants to choose from, including a tour of the town centre and the castle or a walk through The Ribble Valley, lunch in the church hall, football shoot out for the youngsters, ice cream from the Mr Whippy Van and tea and cakes at St Mary’s. The lunch, cooked by members of The Mosque, was delicious with lamb and chicken on the bone with lots of vegetables (courgettes, okra and peppers) accompanied by sweet and savoury rice. Before lunch some of us had opted for a two-hour hike. The weather was perfect for the route, not too hot, with a sprinkling of rain to keep us fresh. We met other walkers; some on the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme all kitted out with their leather boots and waterproof jackets. The Ribble took many twists and turns, meandering throughout the valley as we walked through parkland, woodland and open fields. Herds of sheep populated the fields; large, strong creatures with fine coats of wool and equally friendly faces. We were a select band just about twenty of us, including Abi, Pat, her husband and son Jason, Ammar with his selfie stick and a dozen others mixing Lancashire folk with our Revive members, chattering all the while! To look out for us en route and provide teas, coffees and fizzy drinks and biscuits from the back of his estate car at strategic points along the way, was a charming gentleman called Arnold.
The day was amazing and provided an opportunity for us to converse extensively with our hosts, our workers, our volunteers and our members. Church members from across Clitheroe were out in force to ensure we had a lovely day; we were also addressed by a representative from Caritas, Mark Wiggin who expressed his pleasure in our visit and joy at sharing hospitality with Revive. Before we set off the Imam boarded our bus with a special present from the Muslim Community; vouchers for each family; everyone was so generous. I missed out on the Castle Tour but those I spoke to had enjoyed the experience.
The return journey was subdued; so many of the young children after some initial crying settled down in their seats and fell asleep – worn out with all the excitement! I talked with numerous fellow travellers and got to know some new friends. I spoke with Ibrahim and his family; his wife explained that she attends Manchester College to learn English and Maths, looks after their three boys and joins in at Revive. Ibrahim described his work and his starting at MMU in the autumn to update his Biomedical qualifications. I also chatted with others on the coach about their journeys to get to Manchester; traversing deserts and seas from Sudan, Eritrea, Albania and many other countries. I spoke to a young mother who helps at Revive – she had two girls and a boy and was looking to move to a property nearer her friends. I learnt so much from my conversations; about the way Beswick has changed over the years from when Eileen’s father came to the area to set up as a GP in the early days of the NHS, how recent regeneration has ensured new housing has been built and how some of fine Victorian buildings have disappeared from those early days. We talked about the difficulties of being a parent today, coping with new technology and disciplining children to respect others and spend their time wisely; of the North-South divide and the impact of overcrowding in London and high rents and how there is more available, affordable properties in the North. I was party to a very in-depth debate about the ineffective opposition to Robert Mugabe and how his regime continues despite the injustice and corruption. We talked of the opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru joining forces to form a more credible opposition to stand against the ninety-three-year-old premier in Zimbabwe.
As we pulled up in Beswick and left the coach in St Brigid’s, I felt so pleased to have joined Revive in Ribble Valley and met so many like-minded people who respect family, home and a sense of belonging. Apart from the people I met what stands out for me was the splendid food: what cakes we savoured – cupcakes, Black Forest Gateaux, cream cakes and carrot cake! Wow! The day will remain fresh in my memory for its beautiful landscape and such warm hospitality offered and greatly appreciated by all.
If you would like to make a difference and meet like-minded people, please do get in touch to enquire about volunteering opportunities at Revive. We rely on the kindness and generosity of our volunteers to ensure that more refugees and asylum seekers in the Manchester and Salford area have access to days out like this – and the resources and assistance they deserve.