Syrian refugees’ picnic at Christ Church Highbury will welcome 15 families to Islington tomorrow

Mohamed and Layla Alamed pictured earlier this year with landlord Yvette Mahon. Picture: Sam Gelder

Mohamed and Layla Alamed pictured earlier this year with landlord Yvette Mahon. Picture: Sam Gelder - Credit: Archant

A picnic will welcome 15 Syrian refugee families to Islington at Christ Church Highbury on Saturday.

The inter-faith event was organised by members of the congregation, with backing from the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road and some local businesses.

It will take place in the church garden between 1pm and 3.30pm, where people can enjoy the sun along with locally sourced halal treats and gelato.

Peter Koenig, a retired journalist, of Avenell Road, has played a key role in organising the barbecue.

He told the Gazette: “This is for charity but it’s also partly political in the face of increasing anti-immigrant sentiment.”

He added: “As long as there is housing space, Islington should take more families in. Why not take double?

“It is important to get away from all the rhetoric and look to the reality. If you get to know them they are as varied as any 23 families and they are very grateful to Islington.”

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Since 2015, Islington has welcomed 15 families as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, with five of these arriving within the last two months.

And Leila Alamed, a Syrian now living with her family in Islington, told the Gazette: “We are looking foreward to seeing everyone this weekend. These events are important for bringing the community together and I want to say thank you to everyone.”

Peter added that Toufik Kacimi, ceo of Muslim Welfare House, has been a major force in bringing together different religious within the community.

The meat and gelato has been provided at cost-price, courtesy of Kemal from Al Bahia Halal Butcher and Sophia Brothers, of Nonna’s Gelato.

• An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 23 Syrian families had come to Islington. We apologise for any confusion caused by this genuine error.