The first Pizza and Politics Café at Otley Labour Rooms last week focused on the refugee crisis and what people in Otley and Yeadon can do to help. The speaker was Rob Lawrie, an Otley carpet cleaner and ex-army family man, who decided to use his winnings from a TV quiz show to make trips to Calais and Dunkirk to hand out donations of clothing and food to refugees.

sack-loads of clothes and items collected at an earlier Labour party event in Leeds NW
sack-loads of clothes and items collected at an earlier Labour party event in Leeds NW

Local Labour party chair Helen Toft said, “Why do refugees continue to wait and make attempts to cross the Channel even though their camp is not officially recognised as a refugee camp and their efforts can lead to death and serious injury? Rob told us he’s talked to hundreds of people and none of them are trying to get to the UK to live off benefits. They are running from terror, death, torture, bombings and the loss of their families, homes and jobs. Many are professionals and skilled workers and it’s clear the British media are distorting their stories to support David Cameron’s pitiful response to the growing humanitarian crisis.”

Rob has experienced nothing but calm queues, care for each other, and patience in waiting for meagre rations handed out by volunteers. Through his Facebook page he asks people to donate tents, sleeping bags, non-perishable food or cash donations to buy humanitarian shelters for the coming winter. The Café night raised over £300 in cash as well as donations of clothes and food.

The idea of the local Labour party’s Pizza and Politics Café nights is to bring people together to discuss political issues over a pizza and drink, with knowledgeable speakers and lively debate in a sociable setting.

The next Pizza and Politics Café theme is ‘Growing local jobs’ on Weds 28th October at 7.30.

It’s open to everyone. Hope to see you there.

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