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Next week, St Joseph's Campus, Lochinvar teacher, Michael Eccleston will begin his first Refugee Awareness Run from Aberdeen to Mayfield to raise awareness of the plight of refugees. Beginning on Friday 17 June, Michael will run for five days in total, visiting five Catholic Secondary Schools along his journey.
While excited about the upcoming run, Michael says he's more focussed on humanising the refugee experience so all within the community can broaden their understanding:
"Late last year, I was looking to volunteer my time at CatholicCare Refugee Services in Mayfield, a place of welcome and support for refugees and their families, and when visiting the centre, I met John Sandy. This is a man who, prior to his journey to Australia walked for three weeks and two days to make a phone call to his wife"
"The run is not even 10% of the distance John covered, yet many people will think it is a long way from Aberdeen to Newcastle. I am hoping the #3weeks2days experience will humanise the plight of refugees which is often politicised with a large focus on negativity." Michael said.
A joint event between the Diocese, CatholicCare Social Services and the Catholic Schools Office, Bishop Bill Wright encourages all within the community to support this initiative:
"I pledge my full support to Michael and the unwavering commitment he has to promoting this important topic,"
"I ask all of the faithful within our community to join together and contribute their own piece to the story – be it through sending a video message of support to Michael, contributing to our fundraising campaign or volunteering time at our CatholicCare Refugee Services," Bishop Bill said.
Supporting events based around social justice is not a new idea for the diocese, says Director of Schools, Ray Collins:
"We are proud to provide opportunities for our teachers to explore social justice causes which are of great importance to our community, and therefore students in our schools,"
"Michael embodies the key values we aim to foster in our teachers, leading by example to the young people in our schools the importance of empathy, social conscience and selflessness. This isn't just a run for refugees, it's a call to action for all of us to sit up and take notice," Mr Collins said.
CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning Director, Helga Smit, said, "CatholicCare is buoyed that following his visit to CatholicCare Refugee Services, Michael was inspired to instigate the #3weeks 2days Refugee Awareness Run."
"The team of staff and volunteers at CCRS continues to work tirelessly with refugees, to empower them to become part of our community. Michael's run will promote awareness and raise funds for our work, for which we are very grateful," Ms Smit said.
On his Refugee Awareness Run, Michael will be visiting St Joseph's High School, Aberdeen; St Catherine's Catholic College, Singleton; St Joseph's High School, Lochinvar; St Peter's High School, Maitland and San Clemente, Mayfield. His journey will begin on Friday, 17 June and finish on Tuesday, 21 June.
Michael will be available for comment and photos throughout the run, commencing Friday 17 June through to the finish at San Clemente, Mayfield on Tuesday 21 June.
Friday 17 June – run commences at 2.30pm from St Joseph's Campus, Aberdeen
3.30pm arrive at St James Parish, Muswellbrook
Saturday 18 June - 7.00am depart St James Parish, Muswellbrook
12 noon arrive at St Catherine's School, Singleton
Sunday 19 June - 10.30am depart St Patrick's Parish, Singleton
3.00pm arrive at St Joseph's School, Lochinvar
Monday 20 June - 10.00am depart St Joseph's School, Lochinvar
12 noon arrive at St Peter's School, Maitland
Tuesday 21 June - 7.15am depart St Peter's School, Maitland
11.30am arrive at CatholicCare Refugee Services, Mayfield
12.30pm arrive at San Clemente School, Mayfield