As the leaves turn yellow a chill in the air makes us wrap up warm. We thank our lucky stars we’re not homeless or living in a refugee camp in some forgotten corner of Europe. Winter’s coming soon, it always does.
No sooner than Hastings Council offers to help 100 refugees find places in private accommodation in our town then rumours start to swirl around that they’re going to be jumping the housing list. As if the national shortage of social housing is down to a handful of refugees rather than deliberate Government policy.
And before you know it, a tiny bunch of neo-Nazis from Portsmouth decides that they will come over to explain to us how we’re doing it all wrong. They say they’re going to show that Hastings doesn’t want to help people escaping from war and terror – and they’re going to do this by marching through our town throwing up Hitler salutes.
But as sure as the seasons change, Hastings shows that we won’t ever be bullied by Fascists. Too many of us know what it’s like to struggle to get by on low pay and benefits or to be hungry and homeless. We know that helping and supporting each other is the way to make things better, not fighting amongst ourselves or blaming foreigners for our problems.
So, on Saturday the 22nd of October, hundreds of people in Hastings came out in a show of solidarity with our friends and family here in our community who are suffering the effects of Government austerity – and with our brothers and sisters who come here from across the sea as refugees.
A network of community groups and individuals arranged a food collection for Hastings Food Bank and refugees in Calais. With barely a week to organise it, the event was remarkably successful – thousands of pounds worth of food and clothing were donated. The contributions were so generous that organisers even had to arrange for extra space to store the food.
Instead of Hastings being scared off by the threat of Fascist violence it turned out that it was the Fascists who were afraid to show their faces. And the people of Hastings showed that they support all those in need – wherever they are from.