Working with Refugees

Our diocesan projects serve the vision of a just and fair society. Our long-term goal is to bring the spirit of our shared humanity into people’s everyday actions. This is the difference we want to make; central to this vision is making meetings happen - we want to help unlikely friendships to blossom through solidarity into meaningful relationships. Our projects intend to create genuine long-term social bonds and expand the social network of our community.  For newly arrived communities, we hope to plant seeds of belonging and love for their new neighbours. We also hope to bring back a sense of normality to their lives after forced displacement.

Currently we have: 

For Ukrainian families and UK sponsors

Welcome Hub

In April 2022 we set up the first Welcome Hub in Kent for newly arrived Ukrainian families and UK sponsors. The Hub operates as a weekly drop in and is run in partnership with a local organisation, Canterbury for Ukraine. We organise workshops on how the system works in the UK regarding housing, community safety, education, Universal Credit, budgeting as so on. With an open-door policy, information, advice and guidance is provided with distribution of free SIM cards.

As a diocese we helped over 34 people within the first six months to find sanctuary in Kent though the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and are actively involved in the hosting process of more. 

Interested in volunteering for this project? If you are familiar with the benefit system - Universal Credit, employment support, NHS, legal, and education - please do get in touch here.

For resettled families coming through government schemes comprising of Community Sponsorship Scheme

Welcome Café in partnership with Canterbury City Council and Canterbury Welcomes Refugees

The Welcome Café Project supports refugees and people seeking sanctuary living in the Canterbury area. 

The project provides accessible English classes and employment support to people with personal experience of forced displacement. The Welcome Café responds to an urgent need for English and employment provisions especially for those needing ESOL Entry L 1 and 2 classes. The project aims at complementing statutory services by adding bespoke conversation opportunities for those who do not practise English beyond the traditional teaching settings and supply a community-led, caring environment to grow in confidence to those needing extra care to feel “job ready”. 

Language barriers and unfamiliarity with the new environment trap new arrivals in a spiral of unemployment and quizzes their ability to feel part of the fabric of the new society. Becoming fluent in English and finding work are interlinked indicators of social integration. However, we provide extra value by developing a sense of belonging to the local community. For example, a key feature of our format is sharing a main meal with local volunteers as part of the activities. This is combined with convivial coffee breaks together with participants. These rituals have become significant for people who feel more relaxed and helped levelling up power dynamics so often overlooked in service delivery. 

We want to help people regain their dignity whilst at the same time help our local community to grow in solidarity with those less fortunate. 

Interested in this project? If you would like to volunteer as a Conversation Buddy, please do get in touch. Training and support are provided. 

For Afghan families

One Stop Shop Welcome in partnership with Canterbury Welcomes Refugees

The One Stop Shop Welcome is a weekly drop-in service offering informal English classes for Afghan ladies and distributes essential items in friendship with local charities and Canterbury Mosque.

There are very little provisions to improve their wellness and to heighten the chances of greater integration of Afghan women who moved out of bridging hotels into the fabric of the community beyond statutory services for refugees. Most of these women had been living in hotels since August 2021 and had no access to provisions gathered to improve their happiness and wellbeing. We are very well positioned to offer those service and extend the welcome. 

Interested in this project? If you would like to volunteer as a Conversation Buddy, please do get in touch. Training and support are provided.

For schools

Voices of Welcome as a part of our School of Sanctuary work

Watch what it is: Voices of Welcome Project for Schools

Our diocese created a participatory project called Voices of Welcome aiming at fostering a welcoming school community through participatory workshops with children coming from different life trajectories. The project is currently run in a Church of England Secondary School and will help children become agents of a refreshing positive narrative on migration and change.

Do you want this project running in your school? Please get in touch:

Community Sponsorship

We would love to see more churches in our diocese welcome refugees through the Community Sponsorship Scheme. Community Sponsorship is a refugee resettlement programme enabled by local people. It is a transformative journey where people work together to bring a refugee family to safety and support them to independence. Any group of people can engage with the scheme. However, how wonderful it would be for a group of people, coming together from the same Church, to lead the welcome through Community Sponsorship? Archbishop Justin welcomed the first family in 2016!

Questions? Domenica, our Kent Refugee Programmes Manager, is also serving as Community Sponsorship National Representative for the Church of England and would love to talk to you about Community Sponsorship.
She has been supporting other groups in our diocese to engage with Community Sponsorship and would love to hear from you too! or call her on: 07801898215 

Foster families are always needed for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. For more information, please follow the link to Kent County Council’s website.

Page last updated: Friday 9th February 2024 12:36 PM
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