Gina Clayton, our beloved friend and CFOR Trustee, passed away after grappling with a long illness. For me (Arlene), and for all of us at CFOR, it is hard to find any adequate words to express our sense of profound loss and to also celebrate Gina’s life and all she gave to us and to so many people through her love, her profoundly generous spirit and devotion to her work.
It also feels impossible to take in the loss of Gina, so soon after the loss of Jean-Claude.
Gina has contributed so much to our world, and to all of us who had the privilege to know her, as lawyer, community leader, activist and friend. She has been a strong leader within organisations working with asylum seekers and refugees, particularly in Sheffield and in South Yorkshire – Assist and South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice.
When I think of Gina, I feel her passion, humanity, tenacity, and her hope. I recall our conversations – her devotion to justice, and to showing up to each do our part to make a difference.
Gina wrote the essential textbook on immigration and asylum law in the UK. She wrote this book in an area where none existed. It is an immense work, and contribution. I recall when she was first working on it, her diligence, her drive, grappling with case material in a complex and emotionally charged field – not only covering the intricacies of the law, but also immensely important dynamics of power and privilege and questions of ethics and justice. She refused to sidestep the reality and humanity that should underpin the law, though often does not. A new edition – there are currently 9 editions – has been published every 2 years.
And Gina’s contribution to community was always personal. She extended herself constantly and graciously, as friend and colleague to others, including towards many asylum seekers and refugees in her community.
Just looking at Gina, you could see a glow, and get a sense of how she linked her deepest contact with nature and spirit with her sense of being connected to everyone in community, and her social action. She was constantly striving to grow in her own awareness, to be able to also be present for and care for others.
In addition to her deeply spiritual sense of purpose, and her practice as a Buddhist, Gina studied and practiced Process Work and Worldwork with us over many years. The tools and orientation of Processwork were essential to her practice. I remember when I first met Gina. She’d come to a seminar with Mike Fitter, who was a little unsure about what she might think! She dove in and took to the work like a duck to water – and we were so grateful to get to know her, as an extraordinary gifted and dedicated practitioner.
I remember the day I asked Gina to be a Trustee for CFOR – in the midst of her extremely busy life. My heart leapt for joy when she said yes. I sensed that she knew that we needed her spirit, her feeling support and shared dedication to the kind of work we are doing. We are forever grateful.
We send our condolences to Gina’s partner, Mike, our dear friend and colleague, who has also provided constant support for the work we are doing and shared vision. We honour their close relationship over all these years, his constant presence for Gina during these last months, and their profound and eternal love.