Refugee Crisis – five ways to respond

(Compiled by the Communities and Partnerships Framework)

Refugee Crisis – Five Ways to Respond

Bishop Trevor has spoken of the need for compassion and a focus on the humanity of all those affected by the refugee and migrant crisis. He has said that it is our ‘moral duty’ to take their situation seriously. Archbishop Justin has also stated that the situation being faced now is a ‘complex and wicked crisis that underlines our human frailty and the fragility of our political systems.’ Here are five ways we as Christians in the Diocese of Canterbury can respond to the continuing crisis, while undergirding all our work in prayer:

A Prayer for Refugees
Almighty and merciful God
whose Son became a refugee
and had no place to call his own;
Look with mercy on those who today
are fleeing from danger,
loveless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of the world towards that day
when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen                                                   (by Bishop Trevor)

 

Calais Eviction: Actions Update

Please see the Bishop of Dover’s latest statement regarding Calais.

Act

Archbishop Justin has said that: “The Church has always been a place of sanctuary for those in need, and Churches in the UK and across Europe have been meeting the need they are presented with. I reaffirm our commitment to the principle of sanctuary for those who require our help and love.” It is a call to churches to act and be prepared to respond to those in need from other nations in our midst. So what practical support can you give?

DONATE – HUMANITARIAN AID

The camp in Calais is now being dismantled.  Despite this, the need to support migrants and refugees will continue as they disperse to other areas on the coast or in towns. If you would like to offer humanitarian support please always make sure you contact the group first before you start collecting to check they are currently accepting donations, when their next scheduled delivery date is, or check their wish-list to make sure you are collecting the items most needed.

Please also be aware that many of these grassroots organisations are run by volunteers and ordinary people doing this work around their regular jobs, and so they will deal with your enquiry as best, and as quickly, as they can.

  • Seeking Sanctuary – A local Kent Christian group who work with L’Auberge des Migrants, providing on the ground support and aid to migrants in Calais. Please keep checking their website for updates on what is needed or how you can best support them.
  • Calaid-ipedia: This is a one-stop information site for many of the groups who have been working in Calais. They have a regularly updated breaking news section. Please check for the latest on the dispersal and any items they are are requesting.
  • The UK Government has a dedicated tool on its website to help refugees.
  • Worldwide Tribe.

DONATE – FUNDS:

Many groups involved with migrants and refugees, welcome monetary support as this means they can buy goods directly as and when needed, as well as keep projects going. Consider raising funds for an organisation over above sending physical goods.

  • Bishop Advent Justice Appeal – Launched by the Diocese in December 2015, the Bishop’s Advent Justice Appeal was set up to raise funds to help the Diocese form a coordinated, long-term response to the refugee crisis. With a Kent Refugee Officer now appointed, a second post working in Calais with our link Diocese of Arras is still being developed. Funding for this work is still required. It is possible to donate online, by text message (text BTAA65 and the amount to 70070) or by cheque, made payable to CDBF, with “Justice Appeal” written on the back and sent to Advent Justice Appeal, Diocesan House, Lady Wootton’s Green, Canterbury, CT1 1NQ.
  • Seeking Sanctuary via Caritas Social Action Network – CSAN is the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. If you indicate on your donation form that your gift is ‘For Calais’ it will be directed to groups working in those areas. These included Seeking Sanctuary who can access the fund to purchase items directly themselves.
  • Doctors of the WorldRefugees and migrants across Europe are living in appalling conditions including pregnant women and very young children, many of them unaccompanied. Most lack essentials such as safe drinking water, adequate food, sanitation and proper shelter. Doctors of the World are meeting the needs of refugees on Greek islands as well as in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and through clinics in nine European countries including France, Germany and the UK. They have been providing medical help on the ground in Calais since 2003. Every donation will help provide crucial support.
  • Save the ChildrenAn appeal directly to support refugee children across Europe and in the countries they are fleeing from to provide aid and support.
  • Migrant Offshore Aid StationMOAS is a registered Foundation based in Malta. It is dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing assistance to those who find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels.
  • Tearfund – Their Middle East Emergency Appeal is focussed on helping those who have been displaced by violence in Syria and Iraq.
  • UNHCR – They are working on the ground from Syria to Central African Republic, Iraq to South Sudan providing life-saving protection for those who have had to flee their homes. Donate here.

Serve

Local Authorities across the country are welcoming UNASC and Refugee families and Kent has been at the forefront of this welcome. Volunteers are at the heart of service delivery and crucial to service development. Some organisations, particularly those long-term projects based in Kent would welcome volunteers to help support their services to refugees and migrants. Listed below are organisations who offer a range of volunteering opportunities below.

  • Kent Refugee Action Network: An independent charity that provides help and support to asylum seekers and refugees, including minors who have arrived in the United Kingdom unaccompanied by an adult. There are befriending, support and class room assistant opportunities.
  • Migrant Help UK A national charity based in Kent offering advice and support to vulnerable migrants in the UK. As well as running an advice line, they run and support numerous projects. Migrant Help U.K is looking to appoint volunteers to act as Syrian Resettle Support Workers in Kent and in Essex.
  • Mental Health Support for Volunteers:

A group of 25 qualified therapists under the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the UK Centre for Psychotherapy are offering a single pro bono therapy session to volunteers who are returning from the refugee camps across Europe. If you are interested in grounding your experiences from the camps or needing some support as you adjust to coming home, please contact Elizabeth on counsellingvolunteers@gmail.com.

  • Kent Kindness. Kent Kindness is a volunteer group setup to give additional support to the young unaccompanied asylum seeking men aged 16-17 who come to the Cranbrook reception centre. The aim is to help and supplement the activities and facilities already provided by the Kent County Council staff, and to work in partnership with them. They warmly welcome volunteers aged 25 or over to help in a number of ways: cooking and bringing in cakes on Tuesday afternoons, getting involved with organising and running extra sports or sporting events, helping establish and run a gardening plot at the centre, taking part with other volunteers in teaching English in one or more 2 hr sessions. No qualifications or previous experience is needed and they supply resources. They also urgently require some voluntary help with admin assistance.
  • Samphire is an independent charity, based in Dover, who support and advocate for ex-detainees nationwide who face destitution and hardship after detention. People released from detention are not allowed to work in the UK or to access social support. Samphire is also engaged with communities in Dover and Kent to challenge misconceptions about migration and to support communities to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness. Possible volunteer roles are: Office/administrative volunteer, Fundraising volunteer, Awareness volunteer (help organizing events and talks or developing blog and awareness raising literature)
  • Kent Refugee Help: A small charity supporting immigration detainees held in Dover Immigration Removal Centre (DIRC) and in HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Elmley. They need support through financial donations but also through volunteers willing to befriend, support and potentially act as surety for those detained in Kent and London.
  • Young Lives Foundation (YLF): An independent children’s charity dedicated to delivering quality services tailored to supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in Kent. This also includes young unaccompanied asylum-seekers. There are opportunities to be Accompanying adults and appropriate adults, who give support to children seeking asylum during assessments by local authorities.

Fostering

  • KCC Kent Fostering – Kent fostering is currently looking for carers in Kent to look after older children (aged 13-18), brothers and sisters so they can stay together, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. They are running a number of events in October November and December for those who would like to find out more. They also hold regular online web chats where fostering staff are available to answer any questions you might have about the fostering process if you aren’t able to make one of the live events.
  • Home for GoodA Christian organisation working with a number of local authorities across the UK, compiling a database of people who have space in their homes and may be interested in exploring further the possibility of fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children for a few days in an emergency, short term or long term.
  • The No Accommodation Network – although they currently have no link in Kent, this informal network of agencies providing accommodation for migrants who have no recourse to public funds, is looking to widen its reach. They deal mainly with asylum-seekers whose asylum claims have been rejected, but for a variety of reasons have not been deported:

Campaign and advocate

Campaigning, signing petitions, writing to your MP, and working with activist groups are all powerful ways to give a voice to migrants and refugees and to stand alongside them.  There are numerous petitions aimed at improving the quality of life of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK, or to facilitate family reunification.

  • The Refugee Action Group is campaigning for Refugees family reunion rights.
  • Petitions – a number of parliamentary petitions have been opened with reference to the refugee crisis. If a petition receives 10,000 signatures the Government will respond to it, 100,000 and it will be considered for debate in parliament. Here is a link to all petitions currently available to sign::
  • Detention Forum: This is a network of organisations working together to challenge the UK’s use of detention. The UK is currently the only country in the UK to enact a policy of indefinite detention.
  • Samphire A local Dover based organisation which seeks to promote accurate facts about migrants and refugees and the positive role they can play in communities.
  • Migrants Rights – Organisation bringing together migrant activists and support organisations, think tanks, academics, faith groups and public sector representatives to advocate for a rights-based approach towards migration in the
  • Keep alert for any marches or events organised to show solidarity with refugees and migrants.

Get informed

Archbishop Justin has said that: “As Christians we believe we are called to break down barriers, to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), and to seek the peace and justice of our God, in our world, today.” It is important therefore to educate oneself in the facts and arguments in order to be able to help break down those barriers, and respond to the concerns others may have in the community regarding migrants and refugees.

Pray

There are a number of prayers and spiritual resources available to help churches to reflect and remember refugees and migrants, as well as those communities and organisations trying to meet their needs.

  • Seeking Sanctuary prayers This local Christian organisation working in Calais has compiled a series of prayers, many by local ministers. It includes a prayer commended for use by Archbishop Justin.
  • Church of England – prayer for the refugee crisis.
  • Joint Public Issues Teamprayers and reflections compiled by the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland joined.
  • Bible SocietyRefugees and the stranger. Resources and videos covering what the Bible says about refugees featuring theologian Paula Gooder.
  • CAFODAs part of the Roman Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy prayer initiative, CAFOD has produces a comprehensive series of prayer resources reflecting on the migrant crisis and the Lapedusa Cross.
  • United Reformed Church‘At home in a strange place’ – A collection of resources to enable, encourage and stimulate ‘sacred conversations’ on migration. It for use in congregations and by small groups.

October 2016

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