Syrian Refugee To Help With Beverley Minster’s Sanctuary Project

Syrian Refugee To Help With Beverley Minster’s Sanctuary Project
Syrian Refugee To Help With Minster’s Sanctuary Project

A Syrian refugee has been presented with woodworking tools so that he can help with the creation of a new space for reflection in the churchyard at Beverley Minster.

Yassar Sheikh Debes, 48, has been loaned a set of chisels to enable him to carry out voluntary work on Beverley Minster’s Sanctuary project, which will involve him helping to develop the outdoor sanctuary space at the Minster.

Yasser, who worked as a carpenter in his home country, was introduced to the Minster project by the Resettlement Project team at East Riding of Yorkshire Council after he came to the UK as a refugee from Syria under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

He was also introduced to Beverley’s Men in Sheds group, where he has been able to practise his skills and put them to use before he starts work on the Minster.

Yasser said: “I was very happy because I received something that I would like to work on, as this is a form of art for me.”

Work will start on the new outdoor space in November and will include the creation of a wildflower meadow, new benches for seating, medieval pinnacles from the church roof which have been removed and made into features, and planters for herbs.

The sanctuary space will be the Beverley Minster’s project funded by The Heritage Fund, which also funded Yasser’s woodworking set.

Yasser will also be involved in a series of heritage craft open days at the Minster, helping to stage displays of the various crafts which were involved in the building of the Minster centuries ago, and which are still needed to maintain the building today.

The workshops, held from September 10-12 as part of the National Heritage Open Days events, will take the form of craft displays for the public, and will all be Covid safe.

People will be able to observe craftspeople working on stone, wood and glass at a close, but safe, distance.

Various activities are underway at Beverley Minster thanks to a grant of £406,700 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of a project to tell its remarkable story of Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary project will help tell afresh to the present generation the Minster’s historic and nationally significant story of providing a right of sanctuary to those who could be, in those days, subject to mob justice or family vengeance.

Funds raised by National Lottery players and granted by The National Lottery Heritage Fund have also contributed to the restoration of the Minster’s Lesser South Transept roof. 

The works have involved re-leading the roof, repairing the roof timbers, conserving crumbling stonework and improving the lead gutters. That first stage is now complete.

Commenting on the loan of the tools to Yasser, Reverend Canon Jonathan Baker, vicar of Beverley Minster, said “The Minster is delighted to involve Yasser in the delivery of its Sanctuary project, which will raise awareness of the Minster’s role in sanctuary both in past and present times and help people appreciate the building’s heritage.  We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players, the Beverley Minster Old Fund and the Friends of Beverley Minster.”

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added:

“Inclusive heritage is very important to us at The National Lottery Heritage Fund which is why we are proud to support Beverley Minster with its Sanctuary project.”

“Thanks to National Lottery players, this project gives people the opportunity to not only learn about heritage but to become truly involved in it by using existing skills, teaching or learning new skills. We know that giving people a chance to have a closer understanding and relationship to their heritage reaps many benefits, and is something we are proud to fund.”

Visit https://beverleyminster.org.uk/sanctuary/sanctuary-project/ for more information on the project.

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