During Lent in Birmingham, a group of Catholic Primary Schools developed a collaborative project to explore themes of sanctuary through the lens of catholic social justice teaching – read on to learn more about the Lent Refugee Rucksack Project.
Caritas Christi in Urbe Schools is a collaboration of 9 Catholic Primary Schools in Inner City Bir
mingham. The schools have been working together for close to ten years now with regular subject lead meetings, following the
same Catholic Curriculum and supporting each other in safeguarding, leadership, catholic life and other areas of school life. Each year the schools come together during Lent and produce a liturgy for Holy Week. The schools pick a year group and they come together and plan a liturgy which is then delivered by these children in the three schools. In 2023, we had a different idea to deliver these liturgies.
It was decided that each school would create their own rucksack or suitcase with items that a refugee may bring with them on their journey to seek refuge. This bag was introduced to the school in whole school assembly. Each school did this differently in their own unique way. The rucksack was then given to the year 4 class in each of the schools to investigate what was inside it and why these items were in the bag.
Each Year 4 class within the 9 schools then studied what was inside the bag. They investigated what was in the bag and why the person needed those items when travelling. The classes read different stories associated with refugees and watched various videos about refugees.
The children wrote prayers for refugees and created art work about refugees and the contents of the bag. Many children within our schools come from a recent immigrant background and so some were able to tell their own families stories on seeking refuge. Each class kept a scrapbook of work during the project which was placed on their class altars.
It was discussed in each class about the current immigration laws and how our government are preventing people from claiming refugee status here.
They reported back to their own whole schools during an assembly about who the bag belonged to and why these people needed our love and solidarity. Each school was asked by the children to collect toiletries for St. Chad’s Sanctuary.
The Liturgies for Holy Week were based on Peter’s denial of Jesus after he was captured at the Garden of Gethsemane and how this can be linked to the denial of refugees to enter the UK legally today.
Four children from each school met with the three other schools that they were paired with to create two role plays. The first based on Peter’s denial and the second on a refugee seeking asylum today.
At the end of each liturgy, a member from each class in the school brought up a box/ bag of toiletries which they had collected.