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Shoes help to build bridges in Sunderland

A student at Sunderland College has found a way to help refugees living in Sunderland while honouring the victims of the Holocaust.

Jason Redman, 17, from Fulwell, is an A Level student studying Law, Business and Government and Politics who visited Auschwitz on a College trip and saw the piles of glasses, shoes and other items taken from the victims of the Holocaust as they entered the concentration camp.

Struck by the realisation that each item represented a human life, Jason wanted to replicate the experience, to some extent, for his classmates.

Jason came up with the idea to create a memorial of shoes and glasses, collected from classmates and staff at the College, to be displayed at the St Peter’s Campus of the College to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27, 2013.

He had also done some work with Sunderland’s refugees and decided to make sure that the useable shoes would then be donated to The Friends of the Drop-In centre – a local organisation the College has worked with previously – which aims to support and extend the drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees in the area.

Alex Mallett, Enrichment Officer at St Peter’s Campus, Sunderland College, said: “One of the things we learned working with Friends of the Drop-in is that there is often a lack of suitable footwear for the refugees in the area, and Jason had the idea that we could collaborate with Friends of the Drop-In to donate the useable shoes.

“The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 was ‘building bridges’ and that’s what we’re doing here, building bridges in the community to groups such as refugees who, through no fault of their own, have been ostracised from their own societies.

“We’ve got such thoughtful and enterprising students here, there was a lot of lateral thinking from Jason in particular to combine all these elements and come up with such as fantastic idea.”

And fellow student Monique Stone, 17 from Leafields, Southwick, suggested that the glasses should be donated to Vision Aid after the display was dismantled, so nothing is being wasted and the College can help even more people in the community.

Students who want to participate have even been buying inexpensive glasses so that they can contribute to the cause.

The memorial will be on display at St Peter’s College Campus, Sunderland for a week until it is dismantled and the shoes and glasses donated.

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