By Tom Fenton
Just Love, Durham, held their first “Alternative Freshers’ Fair” on 13th October for local charities and community projects.
The fair, held at Sanctuary 21, saw 16 local organisations and student groups come together and run their own stalls.
Local groups included Durham Christian Partnership, Sanctuary 21, A Way Out and Junction 42.
The Christian organisation, which was founded in April this year, also works with four international charities — Tearfund, International Justice Mission, Open Doors and Christian Aid — as well as student groups including Durham University Stop the Trafficking of People Society, Ecumenical Society and Children Achieving Through Student Support, part of Student Community Action.
Jack Williams, the Secretary of the group who helped run the fair, told Palatinate their aim is “seeking justice through advocacy, projects and prayer”.
He said: “The idea behind it was that there are a load of organisations who do incredible things for justice in Durham that a lot of students just have no idea about. These are organisations that are no way going to be able to afford a stall [at the Freshers’ Fair].
“So if someone says ‘I really want to help out with people who are homeless’, I can say ‘we actually know the guys at Handcrafted or the people who work with the Food Bank, really well, let me go and talk to them for you’.
“And then we can go to them because we know them personally and say ‘we know you really need volunteers, here are some students who want to get involved’. We can put these people together. We can release the compassion people have.
“Hopefully we can see Durham begin to change and see justice in Durham locally.”
Alex Rowe, a 1st year Theology student St John’s College, told Palatinate: “I thought that the Alternative Freshers’ Fair was fantastic. It was great to have various charities from the city and surrounding area represented, showcasing the work they do in loving and serving the community.
“Their vision of encouraging students to be part of the wider Durham community through charitable works is so essential to bridging the gap between the student and resident populations.
“Furthermore, tackling injustice and loving those around us is at the heart of the holistic good-news story of Jesus. Jesus was incredibly people-focussed, and he would be proud to see his acts of love and service being emulated.
“Just Love don’t try to be an inward-looking huddle of “good people”; they just want get out onto the streets and love.”
Photograph: Jack Williams