Responding to the refugee crisis – practical guidance

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, has expressed his shock and upset at the refugee crisis in Europe and urged churches and local communities to respond by working with established agencies to support those affected. Read more…
To help parishes respond appropriately to the crisis we have collated the following list of local and national organisations and projects working to support refugees and which could benefit from support, money or time.
We are updating the list as more information becomes available.

Church of England

  • The Church of England offers advice on its Asylum – what can churches do? page
  • Church of England bishops, including Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth, continue to lobby Government to welcome more refugees – a minimum of 50,000 in the next five years. Read more…

Diocese of Bath and Wells activity

Citizens UK – Taunton Group

  • The diocese is working with Taunton Citizens, part of Citizens UK, who have produced a helpful guide to supporting the resettlement of refugees. It includes details of a campaign to ask private landlords to say they will resettle refugees. Visit the Citizens UK website to find out more.
  • Taunton Citizens is holding their next meeting at 7:00pm on 16 December at Temple Methodist Church in Taunton to increase support for new refugees coming to the Taunton area by creating a broad alliance of groups and individuals. Taunton Deane District has agreed to take a limited number of refugees in the new year.

Bath Welcomes Refugees

A group being established to help BANES prepare to welcome Syrian refugees via the government’s scheme to bring vulnerable refugees from the camps in countries bordering Syria such as Lebanon and Jordan. They are supporting work of the Council and of churches with the collection of goods for welcome packs.  See the group’s Facebook page for more details.

Collections and drop-off points

Federica Smith, a local councillor in Taunton, is coordinating the collection and distribution of items of aid for Syrian refugees. They have recently sent their eighteenth lorry load to Birmingham for onward distribution to refugee camps near Syria. Federica has use of the old Auction House on the old Cattle Market site in Taunton (latterly a bathroom centre) as a warehouse, which is full of stuff of all kinds.  It is open Wednesdays 10.00 – 2.00 and Saturdays 10.00 – 5.00.  If anyone has any availability at those times, she would really appreciate help.

If you have a story to share about how you are responding to the crisis, please contact the Communications Team.

Offering accommodation

Some local councils are putting plans in place to receive new refugees. There will be many opportunities to help – please check the diocesan website and other groups for updates and general advice. Offering a room in your own home may be a possibility but please seek support in considering the issues involved. Useful advice is available from national Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice on accommodation and support for migrants with no recourse to public funds.

Once the distribution of refugees become clearer and if new Syrian refugees are sent to the South West, Anglican dioceses in the region will hold a training and information session for potential hosts and landlords.

Temporary Long Term Fostering of Unaccompanied Minor: Home for Good is a well-known Christian charity, supported in several parts of the diocese, which promotes fostering and adoption. It is unlikely that new foster carers would have placements of refugee unaccompanied minors. However, new foster carers are needed for UK children and this will allow experienced foster carers to be freed up to support refugee children.

Practical help now

Churches, charities, organisations and individuals are coming together under the banner ‘Church Response For Refugees’. For Refugees is helping to network and coordinate the UK church response to the refugee crisis. It is a movement of organisations, churches and individuals offering welcome and taking action, set up with the valuable insight, experience and expertise of some amazing partners – specifically Chapel St’s Good Faith Partnership, Home For Good, Refugee Support Network and The Cinnamon Network.

For Refugees’ aim is to challenge and equip every church and community to better understand and support refugees. They work together to:

  • Welcome those refugees who are resettled in the United Kingdom
  • Support junior refugees through fostering and mentoring programmes
  • Campaign to ensure that refugees receive the help that they need to flourish and thrive
  • Engage with refugee charities to ensure that refugees receive the highest levels of care

To find out more about being a part of For Refugees, please visit their website.

Material goods

Many existing organisations that have been collecting goods for the Calais area are currently full in terms of capacity. They will need further help so please try to store goods locally for the time being. Spontaneous trips to Calais and self distribution of goods is not advised. Try to find an established organisation who are already on the ground and supporting refugees and make prior arrangements to give get your donations to them.

Other useful links

The Independent newspaper has provided a list of practical ways you can help.

Refugee Action is based in many areas of the UK including Bristol. Their website features a useful article on providing support. Note this is not the Refugee Council.

Key organisations

If you want to help those who are stuck in Calais:

1. Join the Facebook group where people are coordinating the aid they’re taking to Calais. See their key advice dated 4th September from Clément Blain.
2. Visit Secours Catholique – Caritas France
3. Visit Auberge des Migrants
4. To find your local drop-off point to donate clothing and other items to help refugees, you can search on this Google map

Donations

If you want to donate money, there are lots of organisations with open appeals.

Locally, the Genesis Trust in Bath will collect money in the Genesis Refugee Support Fund. It will initially be used to fund and support Genesis related projects with the local authority to provide for the new Syrian arrivals. If the Fund grows sufficiently, money will be made available to other Christian led projects supporting local area refugees.Donations can be sent to:

The Genesis Trust
The Old School House
St John’s Court
South Parade
Bath
BA2 4AF

If paying electronically, please put “Refugee Support” in the reference box.

Bank Details: Co-operative Bank
Account name: Genesis Trust Bath
Sort Code: 08 92 99
Account Number: 65724622

Doctors of the World are currently the only organisation providing medical care to refugees in Calais. You can donate to them and find out more on the Doctors of the World website. Christian Aid is the official ecumenical development agency and it is working with churches and other agencies in supporting humanitarian efforts taking place in Europe and the Middle East.

Tearfunnd’s new page has been set up to support the vital work in Europe as well as helping some of the millions who are displaced or refugees within the Middle East itself. There are also prayer and campaign resources

The British Red Cross is calling for more funds to support affected people in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Inside Syria, there are volunteer rescue workers who risk their lives to save families and children fleeing the violence. There is a ‘Hero Fund’ to treat these injured volunteers and support the families of those killed. You can donate to the fund on the Hero Fund website.

Campaigning

There are many organisations which have petitions and other lobbying activities. The largest formal petition to Parliament can be reached via this Petition Parliament page.

The Boaz Trust have produced this useful guide:  Engage: Support for Asylum seekers and refugees

Tearfund has produced a draft letter to MPs, available at the foot of this page.

Prayer

In his pastoral letter (9 September) Bishop Peter urges everyone to pray for those affected by the refugee crisis. He says:

“Something we can all do is pray. I urge you to pray for the suffering people wherever they are, and for the hard-pressed agencies who are trying to help them. I also ask you to pray for governments and those with the power to change things for good.”

Tearfund has produced a prayer Powerpoint for use in small groups and it is available in the Downloads section below.

Who to contact

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