An Irish-born nun who was the subject of a major BBC documentary for her work in one of the most socially deprived areas of Manchester has now become the subject of a major online petition as her local community campaigns to halt her transfer.
Cork-born Presentation Sister, Sr Rita Lee (71), works in the
Collyhurst region of Manchester, where she runs a food bank at the
The Lalley Centre is a drop-in centre in Collyhurst, Salford, which caters to the welfare needs and services of the community.
Recently, Sr Rita was the focus of a five-part BBC series, ‘Sister
Rita to the Rescue’, which aims to highlight the plight of young
families and those on low salaries who are affected by government cuts
and sanctions. In the documentary she met with Pensions Minister Ian
Duncan Smith, and urged the British government not to “cut the benefits
of the less well off”. She also told him the “sanctions were cruel”.
Now it has emerged that Sr Rita has been transferred to an as yet
undisclosed new appointment, but her local community at the Lalley
centre wants her back. The petition – ‘Reinstate Sister Rita at the
Lalley Centre’ – praised the Sister, who has “given many years of her
life” to the community.
“Sister Rita has given many years of her life to build and support
the Lalley Centre in Collyhurst and has made an invaluable contribution
to people throughout this area. After ten years’ service Caritas have
decided to let her go and disregarded the opinions of all the centre
users and local community! The Centre needs Sister Rita and so does the
The petition needs 1,000 signatures, and has so
far received 530 supporters, with some expressing serious fears for the
centre without Sister Rita.
In a statement issued this week to the Manchester Evening News
newspaper, Caritas Diocese of Salford CEO Mark Wiggin said the diocese
“would like to acknowledge the concern of local residents regarding the
continuation of the Lalley Centre and its vital community services. We
are committed to serving the local community by developing the services
that are based at The Lalley Centre. Sister Rita Lee has worked
tirelessly to support the community in Collyhurst, where the Lalley
Centre is based. She will be remembered fondly, and lovingly, by all
those she has helped over the last decade. We sincerely wish Sister Rita
well in her future endeavours.”
The statement added that “Caritas is committed to continuing and
building on her good work in North Manchester and want to reassure
everyone, particularly people who use the Lalley Centre and the Food
bank that we will be continuing her good work.”
The petition can be accessed here.