Asylum seekers meet Mayor of Wigan

The group met Mayor of Wigan Coun Stephen Dawber and his consort
The group met Mayor of Wigan Coun Stephen Dawber and his consort

A group of asylum seekers who moved to the borough to escape persecution were welcomed to the borough by Wigan mayor this week.

Five members of the Wigan Christadelphians were thrilled to meet Coun Stephen Dawber and his consort as they took part in an Bible giveaway event to raise awareness of their church.

Stuart Webster, a member of the faith group, which meets at Dicconson Street, said that the members have joined the church after fleeing their countries on religious grounds.

“Over the last couple of years we have had a steady influx of Iranian asylum seekers joining our church,” he said.

“Many of them have come to the country for religious reasons.

“A lot of Christians back in Iran have been forced to flee because of the threat from their own government.

“They can actually be killed for their religious beliefs, at the very least they would be thrown into prison.”

After watching Stuart take part in regular Bible giveaways in the town centre, five of the asylum seekers - Hamed, Ali, Sevan, Roya and Elham - took it upon themselves to volunteer.

“They are such lovely people,” he added. “Even though they can’t speak a lot of English they managed to give out quite a lot of Bibles.

“It’s incredible as far as I’m concerned.

“They are just so interested in helping in whatever you are trying to do.

“I noticed Sevan offering one to the mayor. I asked ‘do you know who you have just given that to? That’s the Mayor of Wigan’

“I chased him up the street and introduced them properly.

“He was very interested and considerate when I explained about their background.”

Stuart’s initiative is part of a regular event in which he obtains Bibles from Latvia and gives them out for free in the town centre.

“One of them came all the way from Chadderton, which is a two hour journey there and two hours back,” he said.

“He makes that journey every single Saturday and Sunday too to come to the meetings.”

Marcus Heaster, of Bible Basics, a group which gives out free New Testatements across the country, said: “The kindly friendly way that the mayor spoke to them and then posed for a photo really, really made their day.

“They were deeply impressed by his interest in what they were doing. The fact they could speak and shake hands with the very Mayor of Wigan was for them fantastic.

“They do find the people of Wigan so nice to them and they are so pleased they have ended up here.”