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Be the Light in the Darkness

The people of South Tyneside are being encouraged to light a candle at home next week as part of an online act of remembrance to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Borough traditionally commemorates the key annual event honouring all those affected by genocide, with a poignant memorial service at South Shields Town Hall involving representatives from across the community.

However, this year, the event will be marked with a virtual commemoration, featuring inspiring speeches and poetry from key community figures, including the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick, Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Tracey Dixon, local MPs and community faith representatives.

Residents are encouraged to watch the commemorations, which will be streamed on the Council's Facebook and Twitter channels on Wednesday 27 January as well as pay their own respects by lighting a candle at home at 8pm.

The Mayor said: "Holocaust Memorial Day is an incredibly important occasion in which we remember the millions of people who have been murdered, or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition, during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocide.

"The day also provides us an opportunity to honour the survivors of such atrocities and to reflect upon the lessons of their experiences in the past to challenge hatred, racism and victimisation today and in the future.

"Though we are not able to come together in the way we normally would, we are still determined to unite in solidarity and pay our respects on this important day in our history with a virtual commemoration.

"We're calling on people to join us safely, online, for a special service and light a candle or lantern at home in memory of all victims and those affected by such horrendous crimes against humanity all around the world."

This year's theme is 'Be the light in the darkness', encouraging everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to 'be the light' before, during and after genocide.

To reflect the 'light in the darkness' theme, South Shields Town Hall will also be bathed in a purple light on 27 January, with the Clock Tower lit up white.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year and is the international day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The date also marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau - the largest Nazi death camp.

Members of the public can watch South Tyneside Council's Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations on the Council's social media channels: Facebook STynesideCouncil and on Twitter @STyne_Council

Residents are also encouraged to upload photos of their candles on social media, tagging the Council and using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay and #LightInTheDarkness

This year's Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations are being delivered differently due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and in line with the Government restrictions which require people to stay home. More details about the impact of coronavirus on Council services, including the latest government restrictions and advice, is available at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus

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