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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 23:14 GMT 00:14 UK
Asylum work wins Kirk couple honour
Rev Gwynfai Jones and his wife Elspeth
The couple have lived in Glasgow since 1967
A Kirk minister and his wife have been awarded the MBE for their work helping asylum seekers in the Sighthill area of Glasgow.

Reverend Gwynfai Jones and his wife Elspeth were honoured for services to race and community relations.

Through St Rollox Church the couple have offered a range of assistance to people who have come to Scotland with nothing.

Rev Jones said: "We are both delighted for the recognition that we have been given."

The Sighthill estate has provided a home to thousands of asylum seekers under the Home Office's dispersal scheme.

Racial tensions erupted in the area in 2001 after months of frustration.

Economic jealousy

Hundreds of asylum seekers protested after 22-year-old Kurdish man Firsat Dag was stabbed to death.

That was followed by a counter demonstration by local residents who claimed that there was favouritism shown towards asylum seekers and refugees.

Rev Jones, 66, and his 64-year-old wife were among those who attempted to calm the situation, putting the tensions down to "economic jealously" rather than racism.

The couple, who have lived in Glasgow since 1967, worked tirelessly to help those arriving in the area.

We feel actually that we are receiving the honour not just for ourselves but for everybody who has worked so hard at what we have been doing
Rev Gwynfai Jones

They organised appeals for clothes, shoes, toys and food for the refugees.

St Rollox church became home to a co-operative offering cheap fruit and vegetables, which was open to the local community as well as the asylum seekers.

It was also used to distribute free clothes and other items to those who may have arrived in Scotland with nothing.

Rev Jones said: "A lot of people came to us seeking help. They had nothing. Some of them were very destitute so we tried to provide for them what we could and we did all sorts of things.

"We had loads of excellent help from other churches.

"We feel actually that we are receiving the honour not just for ourselves but for everybody who has worked so hard at what we have been doing."

Rev Jones is originally from Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales.


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