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OUR LOCAL RESPONSE TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS
The Clifton Diocese Refugee Network has been set up with the aim of putting people in the Diocese who would like to help refugees and asylum seekers in touch with their local agencies/groups. It also aims to share awareness of the needs of refugees and to encourage a culture of welcome in our parishes. This page will include information about initiatives across the Diocese and the support they need locally. We’ll update it regularly as new information becomes available. If you are aware of something in your area that should be included here please let us know.
Quote from Bishop Declan from his recent Pastoral letter:
Have we helped others escape the doubt that cause despair and which is often a source of loneliness; helped overcome ignorance in which millions of people live; if we have been close to the lonely and afflicted; if we have forgiven those who have offended us and rejected all forms of anger, hate and violence; if we have the kind of patience God shows and if we have prayed for one another and all people.’
Welcoming is essential to who we are. We are called to be an inclusive community of faith, hope and love: a truly catholic community that welcomes all people. We are also called to follow Jesus’ example in being pro-active in reaching out to others.’ from Called to be a People of Hope. A warm welcome is, in itself, a gift. How can we create a culture of welcome? Are there new faces at Mass or at projects run by the church?
Volunteers play a key role in many of the agencies working with asylum seekers and refugees. Not everyone is needed now, but new needs will emerge in new areas as more refugees arrive. See the list of local agencies and initiatives to find out what sort of help they need currently.
HOUSING Item to be updated as we receive more information
Our current priority is to find suitable housing for resettled refugee families in Bristol
These families will be arriving under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, and will need family-sized homes rather than spare rooms. In order not to use the limited social housing, we are in urgent need of private landlords to lease available properties to these families. Accommodation for refugee families for at least the first year will be paid at the Local Housing Allowance Rate by the Council through the Resettlement Fund. We are asking willing landlords to sign up to Citizens UK Homes for Resettled Refugees Register.
There is an ongoing need for self -contained long term property for those granted refugee status who are able to pay rent themselves.
Emergency short term placement; short term accommodation for those unable to pay:
Can you help or sponsor this support? Contact: http://naccom.org.uk/
For statistics and stories relating to the refugee crisis see the United Nations Refugee Agency website; for UK statistics see the government website. The Refugee Council has produced a leaflet of useful facts about asylum seekers, refugees and migrants . With this information you can counter the myths and stereotypes portrayed in the media, and the prejudices within your own community.
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.
Migrants Rights – Refugee Action campaigns on behalf of refugees as well as providing practical help, they have a regional office in Bristol which co-ordinates local activities. MigrantsRightsNetwork brings 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 UK.
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. SeekingSanctuary have produced a list of constructive petitions mostly relevant to the situation in Calais.
Financial support Many of the charities working with refugees have years of experience and expertise but still rely on donations made by individuals and organisations to continue. Please see the list of local organisations if you would like to support their work.
Charities working with refugees across Europe and in some of the countries from which refugees flee also need support.
- Your local agency working with asylum seekers and refugees already in the UK will have lists of items that they need from tea and coffee for regular drop-ins to warm clothing. To ensure that the goods you supply are needed at present please see the list of local agencies and check with them.
- Syrian families under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme will need household goods of all kinds. Contact the local group supporting them for a list.
- Goods for Calais and further afield are being collected at various points around the Diocese. Again it is important to check that you are donating useful things. There are many small groups some ecumenical, others not, working to provide goods in useful quantities. See our list of larger groups involved