Our churches increasingly find themselves at the sharp end of supporting refugees and asylum seekers. What can we do to help?
How can we help?
More and more clergy (and laity) are finding themselves involved in the asylum system as sources of emotional and practical support, as well as being called upon to give evidence in cases where faith and/or conversion to Christianity are part of an individual’s asylum claim.
The Syria conflict has generated one of the largest refugee crises since the Second World War. There are 4.1 million Syrian refugees outside Syria, as well as 7.6 million people displaced within. According to the UN refugee agency, Syrians make up the largest proportion of those who have been seeking to reach Europe by boat in 2015.
What can churches do?
- Pray for peace
- Find out how other churches are already involved in offering welcome and support
- Invite a speaker to address your PCC, Deanery Synod or Diocesan Synod
- Consider setting up a local group among churches or faith communities to support asylum seekers (discuss in your church council)
- Join a group teaching English to speakers of other languages
- Find out about asylum seeker children in schools and the voluntary help that might be needed
- Find out more about campaigns and join in
- Set-up a collection point for food, clothes or furniture
- Write to your MP
- Encourage the government to pursue an 'ethical foreign policy' - with a particular concern for the places people are forced to leave because of persecution or extreme poverty.
- Write to newspapers or other media that persist in promoting negative stereotypes of asylum seekers and refugees
- Encourage your Church to observe Refugee Week (usually in June), One World Week and Racial Justice Sunday
- Listen to the experience of asylum seekers and refugees, and encourage their full participation in planning, implementation and evaluation of projects and services.
Destitute Refugees & Asylum Seekers
Contact the Boaz Trust if you are supporting a failed asylum seeker who is now destitute. They can help with basic living essentials, practical care and legal services. Tel: 0161 202 1056.
28 days later
What to do after someone is granted refugee status
Individuals who have been granted refugee status have just 28 days to move on. After that they will stop getting their weekly cash allowance and will have to find somewhere else to live. More information about what to do after being granted refugee status.
If an individual is not ready for work, is unlikely to find work in the 28-day period or has little or no income, it is vital that they apply for welfare benefits as soon as possible. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help