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ACross Country

ACross Country is a registered charity, number 1108983


ACross Country
Home About us Photo Gallery The Vision Projects Donate Get Involved The Trustees Facebook Contact us

This disparate community is vital but not enough; as humans we are created for community no matter how introvert or extrovert we are. For a brief moment ACross Country provided a space to be in community, to build relationships, to laugh, play, cry and pray together, whatever the culture, language or faith.  Rather than counsellor and leader this group needed us to be fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Not for a moment do we think ACross Country can or should replace a person’s family, but this past weekend has resonated with family and home.

ACross Country: a place of Adventure and Stillness,

to be more fully ourselves, with others, our world,

and with God.

This community formed in the furnace of adventure, and nurtured in the safety of the home became the place to talk about everything from the weather and food, to childhood memories. In this space stories were shared about journeys to the UK, time in Calais waiting for passage to England,  losses endured and some of  who and what has been left behind. Cooking and eating became times of connecting, teaching each other languages, sharing food traditions and customs, reminiscing.

Our group in October 2016 was incredibly diverse with men from Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago; speaking Arabic, Somali, Dari, Oromo, Tamil and English. As usual we started the weekend at St Augustine’s with the necessary form filling, minibus loading etc. Talk is sparse and there are clear small groups formed mostly around ethnic lines. By the time the group has walked in the dusk and dark stumbling in the mud, helped each other over walls, rocks and styles that miraculously double in size and difficulty in the dark, they are a unit. Dinner in the warmth of the house is a celebration of adventure survived, a gathering of a community in a place of safety.

This year saw us trying a new venue. The home base had a fantastic kitchen and lounge area, and so cooking, eating and playing and praying were effortlessly communal. The family atmosphere was more than a cliché, it was tangible, with people playing games, jumping in to help, ducking out of chores, wrangling over what to do next.

St Augustine’s group to Grassington Bunk Barn 2016.

This time it was not the trauma, death, blood and tears that struck us, although they were undoubtedly there, but that these men were torn from their families and communities. These people, young and old, were connected by the thin ethereal thread of the internet to their mums, dads, brothers, aunts, uncles etc. Their phones were more precious than food or clothes because they were the only way to hold the threads of family together: the way to capture the moment and share it with the ones they love.