Refugee Support Newsletter – December 2019

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In this newsletter

  • Feedback from CCOW’s ‘Changing Landscape’ conference

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Bicester Event

Feedback from CCOW’s ‘Changing Landscape’ conference

Thank you for all the helpful feedback about ‘Responding to the changing landscape for refugees’, our conference held on 5th October in Oxford. Your comments and suggestions will help shape future CCOW events. Attendees really appreciated the informative and inspiring speakers and workshop leaders, the networking opportunities and the delicious lunch. Comments on what was best about the event included: “Being part of a movement that wants to support and help refugees and asylum seekers feel welcome” and “Wonderful conversations had and much learnt”.

If you weren’t able to make it and would like to know more about the first plenary panel – which surveyed the changing landscape from a legal and campaigning point of view – do email us for notes.

News from Local Groups

Iraqi Women Art and War is a collective of Iraqi women artists and makers who live in Oxfordshire. It is led by Iraqi Community Ambassador Rana Ibrahim. They have come together to explore their shared experience of contemporary war, displacement, and forced immigration through art, sound and story. They are working towards an exhibition in 2020. .

Brightwell Supporting Refugees’ Night of Jazz, Soul and Blues on 27th September was a great success, their biggest fundraiser yet, raising £1,638.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership‘s 20th family (comprising 7 people) arrived safely and moved into Mellor House in November.

Oxford City of Sanctuary relaunched as a cooperative at a public meeting on 13th October. They are now a Community Benefit Society, with membership open to both individuals and corporate body members. They are the first group in the national City of Sanctuary movement to take this step – and will continue to act as an ‘umbrella organisation’, including  many of the other groups & charities working alongside asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

You can now buy Refugee Resource’s new recipe book online. It is compiled by members of their Women’s Service and all proceeds from sales go directly to support the Women’s Service activities.


Over 100 refugee organisations have signed a letter to the government drawing attention to severe failings with the new systems for asylum support. There has been a huge increase in delays in the asylum process and people being left weeks without any support.

The UK government published its latest immigration statistics up to the end of September 2019, including asylum applications, VPRS (Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme), immigration detention and returns. Further statistical analysis and background information regarding asylum seekers and refugees is in the Migration Observatory briefing.

The Refugee Studies Centre have published the results of their initial research: “Integration of resettled Syrian refugees in Oxford: preliminary study in 2018″. Based on interviews with 14 of the families, as well as people involved with the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme from the Council, community groups and charities, the report looks at aspects of integration and what lessons can be learnt.

Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020 (18th-25th January) are now available. Prepared this year by the churches in Malta and entitled “Unusual kindness” they include (on Day 3) a focus on responding to refugees.

The latest Aegean Boat Report monthly statistics show a sharp increase in the numbers of migrants arriving on the Greek islands – 54,386 so far in 2019, up 84 % from last year. A far greater number (99,554) have been arrested as the Turkish coast guard and police stop boats on their way towards Greece.

We’ve had two new book recommendations: (1) “What do we know and what should we do about immigration?” by Jonathan Portes, recommended and reviewed by immigration lawyer Colin Yeo, and (2) a novel about a thirteen-year-old Syrian refugee girl “A House Without Walls” by Elizabeth Laird, recommended by Helen Conor of Brightwell Supporting Refugees.

Three reports by UNHCR on unaccompanied and separated refugee children in the UK, whose numbers have increased in recent years, look at the children’s experience and how it could be improved.

The recent Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network conference ‘Envisioning a world that is open to all: let us see what love can do’, produced a reflective ‘Epistle’.

Parties aren’t the only groups that can produce a manifesto! The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has also produced one: “People Move – 12 steps to a fairer immigration system”.

Resources to help those working with refugees guard against stress and burnout are provided by Mobile Member Care Team and Headington Institute.

In preparation for the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva (16th-18th December), the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre has prepared a briefing that contains seven articles contributing “Towards understanding and addressing the root causes of displacement”


Sign Freedom from Torture’s ‘Safe Space’ Declaration to state that you feel the UK should be safe space for torture survivors.

The Refugee Council and others continue to campaign for refugee families to be united and for asylum seekers to have the right to work. Find out how you can join the campaigns.

Refugee Action has a campaign calling for asylum seekers to have access to legal support as they make their asylum claims.  Could you write your new MP?

Upcoming Events

Tuesday 17th December – ‘Marhaba Sharespace’ – new music group (Oxford)
Saturday 11th January – Talk by playwright Mike Bartlett in aid of Brightwell Supporting Refugees (Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)
Monday 13th January – Asylum Welcome Charity Gala (Oxford)
Thursday 30th Jan – Training on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children – Foundations of attachment (Oxford)

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2019

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  • ‘Responding to the Changing Landscape for Refugees’

  • News from local groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming events

Changing Landscape

‘Responding to the Changing Landscape for Refugees’ –
Saturday 5 October, 9:30 to 4, Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford

It’s not long till our big event of this year! Hear national and local speakers with a wealth of relevant expertise and personal experience. Join in the discussion, workshops and networking; browse the information stands; and share a buffet lunch. Free to attend but suggested donation of £5 for lunch. Registration essential. Please spread the word and sign up now to come.

News from local groups

Sanctuary Hosting has published a study of hospitality in hosting by Dr Yasmin Gunaratnam from the Sociology Department of Goldsmiths College in London. It is based on interviews with fifteen of Sanctuary Hosting’s volunteer hosts and gives a good insight into their experiences.

Now that Campsfield House immigration detention centre (near Oxford) has closed the successor to the Close Campsfield campaign is Oxford Against Immigration Detention (OAID) which continues to campaign to close all immigration detention centres.

Asylum Welcome will shortly receive seven bikes renovated by The Windrush Bike Project in Witney, thanks to a £500 Community Activities Grant from West Oxfordshire District Council.

KAMA Oxford will be starting off the Autumn term with a second teacher training session at the Oxford University Department of Education, and an appearance at the County Library Open Doors event on the 15th September. For more details, to become a teacher mentor or to find out about upcoming courses, follow them on Facebook or sign up to their mailing list.

Marlow Refugee Action have another series of Syrian Pop-up Suppers (food provided by Syrian Chef Imad Alarnab who was one of the first families to be welcomed by the Wycombe Refugee Partnership) coming up on the 1st, 8th and 15th November. Contact for details or keep an eye on their Facebook page.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership‘s 19th family has now moved into a long-term rental flat, so Mellor House is now available as halfway accommodation for another refugee family. They need to have refugee status, to be willing to work, and to speak English well enough to cope with a job interview. WRP gives wrap-around support, including the loan of the deposit and up to two months’ rent when they move into their long-term house or flat.


A new website has been developed to promote Church of Sanctuary. “Hospitality and Sanctuary for All” and other resources can be downloaded there.

Helpful resources for Community Sponsorship groups and others supporting resettled refugees to understand and apply for benefits: Tips for supporting a resettled refugee family with a Universal Credit claim by Jo Hayes of Peckham Sponsors Refugees; Training resources procuced by the charity ResetBenefits calculator by Turn2Us; Citizens Advice’s online chat function for help applying for Universal Credit.

An evaluation report by Birmingham University’s IRiS on Community Sponsorship in the UK, based on interviews with refugees, volunteers and thought leaders between January 2017 and January 2019. This shows the benefits of Commuity Sposorship for all involved as well as the challenges, and gives recommendations for improvement. IRiS has also produced a Toolkit with practical advice on Syrian resettlement for local authorities and practitioners.

Citizens UK and student researchers from UCL have produced a report Forgotten People – How the hostile environment impacts schools and children’s wellbeing. It is based on consultation with headteachers, teachers and pupils from seven London schools and includes many of their own words.

A five minute video: UNHCR’s global trends in forced displacement – 2018 figures provides a good introduction to the topic of refugees and forced migration. Helpful for raising awareness, clarifying the global picture and showing refugees as individuals.

Since the introduction of the UK government’s Hostile Environment policy many migrants have experienced increased difficulty accessing healthcare. Patients Not Passports, by Migrants Organise, Medact and Docs Not Cops, is a tookit of information and campaigning advice about immigration checks and upfront charging in the NHS. See also Medact’s briefing paper and City of Sanctuary’s Health Stream.

Right to Remain have produced four new 5-minute videos on the UK asylum system, available in English and several refugee languages: An introduction to claiming asylum in the UK, The asylum screening interview, The substantive interview and The UK asylum process: after an asylum refusal.

New Home Office Domestic Abuse Guidance gives greater protection to asylum seeking women who may now access refuge accommodation and support services – see the Refugee Council’s summary.

Policy briefing: Urgent Reforms Needed to Improve UK’s Approach to Statelessness by Consonant, Liverpool Law Clinic and European Network on Statelessness makes three recommendations, in advance of the intergovernmental meeting in Geneva on 7th October.

An open, joint letter to the Home Secretary from 38 migrant and refugee organisations, including Asylum Welcome and Churches’ Refugee Network, outlines the current pressing issues within the UK immigration and asylum system.

A government guide for asylum seekers staying in temporary accommodation while their claim for asylum is assessed, has recently been published in multiple languages.

Refugee Action and NACCOM have published a report Missing the Safety Net on the experience of people refused asylum in the UK but unable to leave the country. It highlights difficulties and delays in being given the minimal support to which they are entitled and calls on the government to fulfill its commitments, in order to prevent destitution.


Encourage your local school to become a Refugee Welcome School. This accreditation scheme, run by Citizens UK in partnership with NASUWT, recognises schools that have made a commitment to welcome refugees in their institution and community, educate all their pupils and staff about the importance of refugee protection over the course of a year, and participate in campaigns to improve the lives of refugees in the UK.

Sign Citizens UK’s petition to Stop Home Office profiteering from Child Citizenship fees. As highlighted in a recent article in The Times high fees, which have risen sharply in recent years, are stopping eligible people from gaining citizenship and participating fully in life in the UK.

Ask your MP to support the call for Youth Welfare Officers in UK asylum accommodation to support the health and wellbeing of 18 to 25-year-old asylum seekers – see the policy proposal by Refugee Rights Europe and Meena.

Get your local council to pass a motion against immigration detention and the hostile environment following the example of Oxford City and nine other English councils.

If you live or work in Oxford you can now add your signature online to Oxford’s commitment to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday 11th September – Open hearts and open doors – hosting talk and discussion (Marlow)

Wednesday 18th – Thursday 19th September – Conference: What is a “Church of Sanctuary”? (Salisbury)

Friday 20th September – Saturday 7th December – Act: Speak: Inspire – intercultural leadership programme (London & Calais)

Thursday 26th September – London Community Sponsorship Networking Event (London)

Friday 27th September – Sunday 29th September – Weekend Conference – Envisioning a world that is open to all: let us see what love can do (Birmingham)

Friday 27th September – A Night of Jazz, Soul and Blues – for Brightwell Supporting Refugees (Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)

Monday 30th September – The Asylum System – Churches’ Refugee Network Meeting (London)

Saturday 5th October – Responding to the changing landscape for refugees (Oxford)

Saturday 12th October – Churches welcoming refugees – by Welcome Churches (London)

Monday 18th November – Marlow Refugee Action AGM & World-Cafe 2019 (Marlow)

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Sign up here to receive our quarterly Refugee Support Newsletter by email.

Refugee Support Newsletter – June 2019

  • Save the date – Saturday 5th October – our big event this year!

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Save the date – Saturday 5th October – our big event this year!

Following on from the success of ‘Partnerships of Hope – Working Together for Refugees’  last year, we’re delighted to announce another day conference.

‘Responding to the changing landscape for refugees’ is for refugees and all walking alongside or interested in doing so. It will take place at Wesley Memorial Church in central Oxford and will involve presentations from  national and local speakers with a wealth of relevant expertise and personal experience. There will also be workshops and opportunities for networking. See the  Eventbrite page for details and to register. The conference is free to attend, but we ask for a donation to cover the cost of lunch

  Bicester Event

News from Local Groups

Bicester Refugee Support had a stand at the Bicester Big Lunch (see photos). This community gathering, led by the Churches in Bicester, showcases what the community is doing. The stand had the theme of ‘Home from Home’ to celebrate the Syrian families that the group has been supporting through furnishing private rented accommodation. It included children’s creative activities, of which the most popular involved making a house into a home by cutting out and gluing the necessary furnishings. The Bicester families are making further progress with learning English, undertaking training, and making friends. Some are now in employment. The families are well supported by volunteers, managed by Connection Support and Hope Into Action. In January Cherwell District Council committed to supporting another six families, due to arrive during 2019,  through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Asylum Welcome is delighted to have been chosen as one of the charities of the new Lord Major of Oxford who says “I specifically want to make Oxford a truly welcoming city”. As well as their new appeal “weaving nets of support” Asylum Welcome has also launched a new service – it is now one of a number of advice agencies across the UK that is going to be running a vital service for Europeanswho are unable to complete the EU settlement scheme registration without help.

Marlow Refugee Action‘s co-founder Tom Doust recently visited the Greek island of Samos, now home to 5,000 refugees, and met with people working there in very difficult conditions, including those working at the Legal Centre which MRA helps to fund. MRA is also helping local refugees to access English language tuition and get back into their professions. Hear an interview on Marlow FM‘s Mid Morning Matters programme (broadcast 3rd May: interview starts 96 minutes in).

Sanctuary Hosting is keen to send an inspiring speaker to groups, organisations and events to talk about hosting refugees and migrants. See their new flyer.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership has a new website and welcomed their 19th refugee family to High Wycombe at the end of May.


This year 23rd June is designated Sanctuary Sunday. Churches are asked to make a commitment on Sanctuary Sunday and encouraged to use a resource entitled Hospitality and Sanctuary for All compiled by Rev Inderjit Bhogal.

A recent report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration highlights a number of issues with UK fees for immigration and citizenship services. It recommends waiving child citizenship fees for those unable to pay. Citizens UK’s research found these fees (£1,012) to be five times higher than the European average. The vast majority of the fee is profit, as the Home Office itself estimates the processing costs to be £372. The situation is leaving thousands of young people who having grown up in this country without citizenship.

Immigration detention in the UK was severely criticised in a report by the Home Affairs Committee in March. The Guardian reports on the unlawful detention of vulnerable people, wider issues of poor asylum decisions and how millions of pounds could be saved by a 28-day time limit on immigration detention. See The Migration Observatory’s overview and statistics of immigration detention in the UK.

The Right to Remain Toolkit, a guide to the UK immigration and asylum system, is now available free online. Updated regularly, it contains detailed information on rights and options at different stages of the process, some in multiple languages.

Read about many new Community Sponsorship groups across the UK welcoming refugee families.

Recordings of the presentations at the Refugee Studies Centre’s March conference “Democratizing Displacement” are now available online.

A report by the Institute of Race Relations When witnesses won’t be silenced: citizens’ solidarity and criminalisation highlights a significant increase across Europe in prosecutions of people assisting and showing solidarity with migrants.

Some good news for child asylum seekers in the UK – councils will now receive more money to care for unaccompanied minorsand young asylum seekers should in future be less likely to be wrongly classed as adults, as the Home Office must rewrite its policy on age determination. But there is concern that unaccompanied child refugees in France may no longer be able to transfer to the UK under the Dubs scheme and Safe Passage’s report on Unaccompanied children in Greece in the Dublin family reunification process reveals difficulties they face.

The government has published the latest UK immigration statistics. The Refugee Council comments on these and, together with Refugee Action and the British Red Cross, is calling on the government to commit to continuing refugee resettlement after the end of the current schemes in 2020 and to expand this to welcome at least 10,000 each year.


Sign Amnesty International’s online petitioncalling on the UK government to stop thousands of children who are eligible for British citizenship being denied their right as they are unable to pay the fees of over £1,000. Use Citizens UK’s online petition and letter to your MP asking for child citizenship fees to be reduced.

Help Refugees’ “Choose Love Not Landfill” project salvages abandoned tents and sleeping bags after UK festivals and sends them to Calais, Greece and beyond for refugees. Join a team of volunteers for Glastonbury (1st -2nd July), Boomtown (12th -13th Aug), Reading & Leeds (26th-27th Aug).

Share UNHCR’s 1 minute video “8 practical ways you can help refugees”.

As a church join Welcome Churches’ network of churches around the UK committed to welcoming refugees. Sign up to give regularly to Welcome Churches and receive a free 40-day devotional book.

Take part in Concern Worldwide’s Ration Challenge to survive on the same rations as a Syrian refugee during Refugee Week (or another time).


Upcoming Events

Thursday 13th June – Celebrate Eid at the ‘KAMA Cafe’ (Oxford) 
Friday 14th June – Workshop: Livelihoods and Socio-Economic Inclusion of Syrian Refugees in Host Countries (Oxford)

REFUGEE WEEK Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd June 2019:
Tuesday 18th June – Safe Passage demonstration outside Parliament for a legal route to safety for child refugees(London)
Wednesday 19th June – Come and meet with Lord Alf Dubs in Chorleywood(Chorleywood)
Wednesday 19th June – Film screening of “Female Voice” (Oxford)
Wednesday 19th June – Film – Le Havre by Aki Kaurismäki (Reading)
Thursday 20th June – On Her Shoulders (RRSG’s 25th Anniversary Film Festival)(Reading)
Thursday 20th June – Weaving Networks of Support – an evening of solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers everywhere(Oxford)
Thursday 20th June – Celebrate World Refugee Day (Milton Keynes)
Friday 21st June – On Her Shoulders (RRSG’s 25th Anniversary Film Festival)(Wokingham)
Sunday 23rd June – On Her Shoulders (RRSG’s 25th Anniversary Film Festival)(Newbury)

Monday 24th June – Multaka-Oxford Networking Day (Oxford)
Monday 24th June – Crochet with Souad – KAMA Oxford workshop (Oxford)
Friday 28th June – Access to HE for young refugees and asylum seekers: training for practitioners (London)
Monday 8th July – Crochet with Souad – KAMA Oxford workshop (Oxford)
Monday 22nd July – Crochet with Souad – KAMA Oxford workshop (Oxford)

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2019


  • Resource for Prayer and Reflection

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Resource for Prayer and Reflection

A new resource for churches is now available on CCOW’s Refugees and Forced Migration webpage. With the kind permission of the Reverend Ben Kautzer, we have full materials for a prayer service, including prayer stations, a liturgy, reflections, and more. We also have an account of how these resources have been adapted and used in two different contexts – Didcot Baptist Church’s evening prayer service on 2nd December and CCOW’s Day of Reflection on 26th January – and the supplementary materials from those events Why not hold a similar event at your local church, to help people increase their empathy with the experience of refugees and be challenged to respond?

News from Local Groups

Asylum Welcome needs good condition bikes of all types and sizes. Bikes improve the lives of asylum seekers and refugees living in Oxford: cycling is a free, green and easy way to travel! Contact: to donate.

CCOW organised a useful communications training morning in December, led by Jillian Moody. The event was attended by representatives from Refugee Resource, Connection Support, Haddenham Community Sponsorship Group, Blackfriars Community Sponsorship Group, Asylum Welcome and CCOW.

Chorley Wood 4 Refugees is now sending one or more pallets of aid from London to Greece on a weekly basis. Each pallet can take 40 banana boxes filled with aid. They have negotiated a special rate so the cost of transporting each banana box from London to Greece is only £5. If any individual or group would like to take advantage of this palletisation programme, email

Churches Together in Marlow are offering Lent study groups which will follow the USPG Study Course on Migration and Movement.

Faringdon Refugee Support Group and Host Abingdon are now together providing ongoing support for the 8 Syrian families who came to the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire under the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Could you help with finding employment, give financial support (e.g. for driving lessons, bus passes) or volunteer as an English teacher,  family support volunteer, volunteer co-ordinator or translation support? Contact Sue Colclough for more information.

Members of the Headington (Quaker) Meeting have been undertaking a variety of activities relating to asylum seekers and refugees. The meeting itself holds a weekly food collection for Asylum Welcome and supports Oxford Friends Action on Poverty. Individual members have engaged in activities such as mentoring with Refugee Resource, supporting refugees through Sanctuary Hosting, and serving as part of the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network and the Bail Observation Project.

In February the volunteers of Reading Refugee Support Group,  founded 25 years ago, were nominated for The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Women’s Service of Refugee Resourceheld their fourth Pop Up Cafe on 16th January, in collaboration with Syrian Sisters and Asylum Welcome. Guests were Syrian families and elderly people living in Witney.

One of Sanctuary Hosting‘s guests urgently needs a phone and another a bike – if you have one you can pass on, please

Wycombe Refugee Partnership are looking for someone to help refugees register for Universal Credit.


A new Application Form for Community Sponsorship was introduced by the Government in December. It replaces the previous Resettlement Plan and Application Form.

Sponsor Refugees (Citizens UK) has produced a Welcome Pack Template for Community Sponsorship groups to use with their refugee families. The template, which gives a framework for presenting information on a variety of key areas such as housing, emergency services, transportation, employment, and schools, has material in both English and Arabic.

Migration and Movement is a six-session study course produced by USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). A good discussion starter for small groups, it blends Bible passages, stories and facts from around the world, and discussion questions.

On 19th December 2018 the UK Government published an Immigration White Paper “The UK’s future skills-based immigration system”. Read the Refugee Council’s response including their comments on detention, family reunion, employment and ESOL provision. TheImmigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is currently going through parliament.

The UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted in December. Find out more about it from this podcast, which summarises its history and content and offers analysis.

When a person is recognized as a refugee in the UK, they have just 28 days before their financial support stops and they must leave their accommodation. For many this is not long enough and they risk becoming destitute. The British Red Cross have produced a report “Still and ordeal – The move-on period for new refugees” and is calling on the length of this move-on period to be increased.


Sign Amnesty International’s petition to the Home Secretary to make the rules on refugee family reunion less restrictive. Currently child refugees in the UK are unable to sponsor their close family to to join them. Similarly the children who are over 18 or elderly parents of refugees in the UK are unable to join them.

Call on the UK government to end indefinite detention.  Join MPs from all parties and others calling for a 28 day time limit on immigration detention. See the report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights for more information.

Sign the online petition to restore language support for UK driving test candidates. Until 2014 translation was offered. But now many refugees whose international driving permits have expired but whose English is not yet good enough to pass the UK test are banned from driving. This is a serious obstacle to their integration, particularly as they seek work.

Email your MP asking for all unaccompanied children to be supported by an independent guardian to  help them access their rights. Many have experienced or are at risk of trafficking. With the Modern Slavery Act under review, support this campaign now.

Upcoming Events

Now until Wednesday 17th April – Thought provoking display on the topic of refugees (Marlow)

Friday 15th March – Author talk “Finding Home – Real Stories of Migrant Britain”(Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)
Saturday 16th March – “Share the Journey” walk (Marlow)
Saturday 16th March – Odd Job Day & Car Wash in aid of refugees (Aylesbury)
Monday 25th March – Crochet with Souad(Oxford)
Tuesday 9th April – Piano Recital: Far From the Home I Love (Reading)
Sunday 12th May – Flute and Harpsichord Recital for Chalbury Refugee Action(Charlbury)

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – December 2018


  • Time of Reflection – Saturday 26th January 2019

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming events

prayer station

Time of Reflection – Saturday 26th January 2019 – Oxford

CCOW would like to offer you this opportunity to take time out from the everyday bustle and reflect on the situation of refugees and our response as Christians. We will use a variety of prayer stations and reflective materials, interspersed by theological reflections, throughout the morning, followed by a shared buffet lunch with an international flavour. Time: 9.30am – 2.00pm. For more information or to register, please contact Joanna ( phone: 07774 474601)

News from local groups

Refugee Support Network is in real need of volunteer mentors in Oxford. Volunteers meet for an hour a week with a young unaccompanied refugee (aged 15 to 21) to help them progress in education, e.g. by working on an aspect of their homework or classwork which they find challenging. Please contact Torie Stubbs or fill out an enquiry on RSN’s website.

Marlow Refugee Action celebrated becoming a registered charity. The group recently organised a World-Café event and Imad’s Syrian Kitchen in Marlow and continues to support a legal centre for refugees on the Greek island of Samos.

Kama Oxford has had a successful “taster term” of events enabling refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to share their skills and passions with others. These have included Chinese Folk Song, Middle Eastern cookery, Arabic language and culture, and an introduction to Eritrean culture.

Faringdon Refugee Support Group has received a framed thank you certificate from the Red Cross in recognition of their support in resettling eight families across the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire. In total the group spent approximately £8000 on essential white & electrical goods, to help equip each family with the basics, and supplied furniture, groceries, and other essential household items (approximately £500 per household.) Now that the Red Cross contract for the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in this area has ended, FRSG and Host Abingdon are discussing how they can continue to provide support to these families.

Didcot Baptist Church recently held an evening service of prayer focused on refugees. Prayer stations, based on materials developed by Rev Ben Kautzer of St Nicolas Church, Earley, were used. If you are interested in using these materials, please contact Joanna.

Campaign to Close Campsfield welcomed the news that Campsfield House immigration detention centre, north of Oxford, is to close in May 2019 after 25 years. But “25 years too long” was the slogan of the rally held on 25th November. The group continues to campaign for the closure of similar centres elsewhere in the UK. .

Asylum Welcome has launched its Winter hardship appeal. Asylum Welcome helps over a thousand asylum seekers, refugees and detainees in Oxford every year. Why not sign up to Asylum Welcome’s mailing list to receive more information directly? Details of how to donate and how to become a supporter here.


Lift the Ban

A large coalition of 80 organisations, including major churches and refugee charities, is calling on the government to Lift the Ban on asylum seekers working. Currently people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively prohibited from working. They can only apply to the Home Office for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over twelve months and only for jobs that are on the Government’s restrictive Shortage Occupation List. Instead of being able to take paid employment asylum seekers get just £5.39 per day to live on. Allowing people to work once they have been here 6 months since their asylum application would be beneficial for their integration and wellbeing as well as financially for the government in tax and National Insurance contributions. It would also bring us in line with other countries. More information in the report Lift the Ban: Why people seeing asylum should have the right to work.

What can I do to support refugees?

CCOW has produced a new document ‘What can I do to support refugees? – Information for churches in Oxford’ with lots of suggestions, including contact details should you want to find out more. We hope this resource is useful and welcome feedback to improve and add to it.

University Study in England

Blackfriar Refugees Aid has compiled “University Study in England: A Resource for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Other Forced Migrants”. It is intended for learners aged 25 and above living in and around Oxford (but most of it is relevant for all those based in England) and gives information on how to access university study and how to pay for it. Contact Leslie Topp for a copy.

Immigration Detention in the UK

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford provides an overview of Immigration Detention in the UK. It explains the use of immigration detention and breaks down the statistics. Further information can also be found in the freemovement article Campsfield House and the future of immigration detention


Sign the online petition to Lift the Ban on asylum seekers working, and download the activism pack for tips on how you can help make this happen.

Safe Passage’s petition to Theresa May to resettle 10,000 child refugees over the next 10 years has a goal of 40,000 signatures. It’s almost there…can you help it reach the goal?

Upcoming events

Christian Aid’s church exhibiton tour: Uprooted helps raise awareness of the 40 million internally displaced people around the world. Available for churches to host from February – contact your local Christian Aid office.

Wednesday, 12th December – CCOW communications event for groups supporting refugees (Oxford) It’s not too late to sign up for this. Please let Joanna know if you are coming. Please note Joanna’s new phone number: 07774 474601

Saturday, 26th January – CCOW Time of reflection (Oxford)

Saturday, 9th February – Sanctuary Hosting volunteer training

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2018

  • Communications Event

  • Resources

  • News from Local Groups

  • Upcoming events and actions

Communications Event

Would your group or organisation like to do some joint thinking about strategic communications, both among ourselves and externally? Then please join us on Thursday, 11th October, 9.30am – 12.30pm, at Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford, for a session led by media consultant Jillian Moody. Jillian ran the  communications workshops at our “Partnerships of Hope” conference and offered to facilitate this follow-up in response to participants’ feedback.  There is also the option to bring your lunch and eat together afterwards. Please let Joanna know if you would like to come ( phone: 07774 474601)


Refugee Resource Centre for Churches

This very useful site, not just for churches, brings together the latest briefings and research reports on refugee matters by a range of agencies.

End Hostility

The Joint Public Issues Team (the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church working together for peace and justice) has launched this report calling for an end to the “hostile environment” and challenging churches and individuals to act.

Slipping through the cracks and Tipping the scales

Two recent reports by Refugee Action highlight problems within the UK asylum system: delays in being granted support and barriers to access to legal advice.

Migrant Health Intelligence Pack

This report on migrant health in the South East, by Public Health England and the South East Strategic Partnership on Migration, gives facts, figures and links to resources, including on entitlement to services.

Global Trends – Forced Displacement in 2017

The UNHCR provides a comprehensive picture of the current global refugee situation with pictures, graphs, case studies and statistics.

Safe Passage: Advocating for a humane asylum and migration policy in Europe

The Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe recently published this booklet which analyses issues associated with the current system for dealing with migration. As well as thoroughly explaining the basis for rights in European and international law and debunking some myths, the author suggests what churches (and others) can do to improve the situation.

Forced Migration Review

Published about three times a year by the Refugee Studies Centre in the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, these journals are available free of charge in print and online in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Each issue contains a wealth of articles on a particular topic, e.g. Economies: rights and access to work, Syrians in displacement, Resettlement.

News from Local Groups

Asylum Welcome needs a new venue near Cowley Rd, Oxford, for its youth club for unaccompanied young refugees. It is now too large for its current venue (35 attendees 1 evening a week) and they don’t want to turn people away.

Kama Oxford , a new project enabling refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to share their skills and passions with others, recently held its first teacher training workshop. Volunteer mentors and teachers are now being matched up. So look out for workshops on subjects such as Arabic language and culture, Middle-Eastern cookery, embroidery and computing starting soon.

Marlow Refugee Action raised over £800 at their July garden party towards the legal centre for refugees on Samos, which is now up and running.

Sanctuary Hosting which provides shelter to homeless vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, needs more volunteer hosts in Oxford, Reading and Milton Keynes. Please help publicise using this information sheet.

Upcoming Events and Actions

Sign the Refugee Council’s petition asking the Home Secretary to change unfair rules keeping refugee families apart.

Sign Sign Safe Passage’s petition to Theresa May to resettle 10,000 child refugees over the next 10 years.

Saturday, 15th – Sunday, 30th September – Art Exhibition about Refugees (Oxford)

Friday, 21st September –  ‘Should it be a crime to rescue refugees?’ Talk and discussion (Charlbury)

Saturday, 22nd September – Sanctuary Hosting volunteer training (Oxford)

Sunday, 23rd September – Talk by artists at ‘Exodus’ art exhibition (Oxford)

Sunday, 7th October  – Recital in aid of Charlbury Refugee Action Group (Charlbury)

Friday, 12th October – Meet the author evening for Brightwell Supporting Refugees (Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)

Thursday, 18th October – Lecture by UNWRA Commissioner-General (Oxford)

Sunday, 21st October – Apple Day stall in aid of Brightwell Supporting Refugees (Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)

Saturday, 27th October – Walk the Thames in support of Bail for Immigration Detainees (London)

Now until 3 November – ‘The Jungle’, a play about refugees in Calais, has a limited West End run (London)

Monday, 26th November – Quiz night in aid of Brightwell Supporting Refugees (Brightwell-cum-Sotwell)

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – June 2018

In this newsletter

  • ‘Partnerships of Hope’ Follow-Up

  • News from local groups

  • New developments

  • Resources

  • Upcoming events and actions

POH lunch
POH speaker

‘Partnerships of Hope’ Follow-Up

On Saturday 21st April 2018, CCOW organised ‘Partnerships of Hope – Working Together for Refugees’ at New Road Baptist Church in Oxford. There was an extremely positive atmosphere as people learned from one another, shared experiences and made connections. Find further details, photos and links to resources on our conference webpage.

Jillian Moody, who ran the two communications workshops, has generously offered to facilitate an event in the Autumn to help Thames Valley groups and organisations working for refugees do some joint thinking about strategic communications, both among ourselves and externally. If you would be interested, please contact Joanna

News from Local Groups

Asylum Welcome is very happy to come and give a talk to any group that would like to learn more about refugees from people working with them first-hand.
Asylum Welcome is also recruiting for 4 roles: Finance and Contracts Manager (3 days a week), Fundraising and Development Manager (full time), Development Officer (3 days a week), Office Manager (15 hours a week). The closing date is 12 o’clock midday on Thursday 21st June.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership (WRP) has so far resettled 17 refugee families and couples with leave to remain. One of the most difficult challenges is finding short-term temporary accommodation while a suitable long-term rental property is sought. Chilterns Area Quaker Meeting is coming to the rescue by using legacy money to buy a three-bedroom house to be leased to WRP at a peppercorn rent for five years in the first instance. WRP will use it to provide emergency, temporary accommodation to families whom it has agreed to house long-term in High Wycombe. The property will be called Mellor House, in memory of the couple who left the legacy.

Marlow Refugee Action (MRA) has been considering its focus going forward. It plans to work with Wycombe Refugee Partnership and Refuaid to support refugees locally and Samos Volunteers giving legal advice to asylum seekers on the Greek island. MRA has also begun work in Marlow schools and hopes later to create links with schools in refugee camps.

Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group is about to welcome its 6th Syrian family. A team of volunteers from the Bicester churches are hard at work furnishing and equipping the house, bought by a group of investors under the Hope Into Action scheme. As Cherwell District Council has now approved plans to house a further 6 families another 6 houses will need to be found. Please do get in touch if you know of a property that could be rented out at housing benefit rate.

Sanctuary Hosting has a new Service Manager Ana Novakovic, covering Sarah Wahby’s maternity leave.

KAMA Oxford is a new project enabling refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to share their skills and passions with others. It wants to celebrate the richness of cultures migration has brought to the UK and give refugees and asylum seekers a voice, confidence, skills for their future, fun and humanity.

New Developments

NHS no longer required to share immigrants’ details with Home Office

NHS data had been given to the Home Office to check immigration status, which undermined confidentiality and made many fearful of accessing healthcare. Refugee and health care groups therefore welcomed that this practice has stopped.

Inspector’s report on VPRS

The recently published report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) processes to be essentially effective and so anticipated that the target of resettling 20,000 refugees by May 2020 would be met. Some recommendations for improvement were made, not all of which were accepted by the Home Office.


Community Sponsorship Guide

Caritas Social Action Network and Caritas Salford, the first organisation to welcome a Syrian family to the UK under the Community Sponsorship scheme, have produced this guide to help those considering Community Sponsorship think through the process and develop a sound plan.

Updated Briefing for ministers

The Joint Public Issues Team have updated their briefing for members of the clergy called to give evidence in support of asylum applications. It gives general advice about the asylum process, providing written evidence, and asylum hearings and contains an example of a statement.

Booklet on Supporting English Language Learning

This booklet has been produced by Churches Together in the Merseyside Region to accompany their “Welcoming the Stranger” guide.

Short film “The Peace Between”

Could your church or community group screen this new film? It features three friendships between a European and an asylum seeker or refugee. The film offers an opportunity to open dialogue by hosting a discussion event at your screening – full resources provided.

Podcasts from Refugee Studies Centre

Recordings of public seminars given at the Refugee Studies Centre (University of Oxford) can now be heard on SoundCloud.

Upcoming Events and Actions

Sign Citizens UK’s petition to extend VPRS beyond 2020

Friday, June 15th – Refugee Week: Launch evening of exhibition, Oxford

Sunday, June 17th – Refugee Week: Concert in aid of Host Abingdon, Sutton Courtenay

Monday and Tuesday, June 18th to 19th – Refugee Week: Exhibition – Origami Art in Immigration Detention, Milton Keynes

Tuesday, June 19th – Refugee Week: Community Café, Oxford

Tuesday, June 19th – Refugee Week: Film Screening “Human Flow”, Milton Keynes

Tuesday, June 19th – Refugee Week: Concert in aid of OKSA & Red Cross, Sutton Courtenay

Tuesday, June 19th – Refugee Week: Film “Human Flow”, Reading

Wednesday, June 20th – Refugee Week: Talk at Somerville College, Oxford

Wednesday, June 20th – Refugee Week: Film “Barbara Harrell-Bond: A life not ordinary”, Oxford

Wednesday, June 20th – – Refugee Week: Film “The Other Side of Hope”, Reading

Wednesday, June 20th – Refugee Week: Gathering in Campbell Park, Milton Keynes

Thursday, June 21st – – Refugee Week: Panel Event – Refuge or detention?, Milton Keynes

Thursday June 21st to Sunday, June 24th – – Refugee Week: Photography by Ania Ready, Eynsham

Friday, June 22nd – Refugee Week: Syrian Summer Banquet, Oxford

Friday, June 22nd – Refugee Week: Celebrating Freedom – An evening of Poetry and Music, Milton Keynes

Friday, June 22nd to Saturday, June 24th – Refugee Week: Tandem Music Festival, Ramsden

Saturday, July 7th – Brightwell Supporting Refugees stall at fete, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell

Saturday, July 7th – KAMA Oxford launch event, Oxford

Saturday, July 14th – Witney Refugee Action Group sewing session, Witney

Wednesday, August 1st – Slough Refugee Support summer party, Slough

Sunday, September 9th – Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group open meeting, Bicester

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2018

  • Partnerships of Hope – 21st April

  • News from local groups

  • New developments and resources

  • Upcoming events and actions

PfH Poster

Partnerships of Hope – 21st April

Whether you’re already involved in supporting refugees, would like to be or are just exploring, this event organised by Christian Concern for One World is for you. A range of groups and organisations from across the Thames Valley will be participating in a programme which will include speakers, workshops on topics such as community sponsorship and working with the media, and stalls. It’s a great opportunity for information, networking and encouragement. Free to attend, £5 with lunch. Registration essential – go to For further information please contact Joanna Schüder, CCOW’s Refugee Networking Officer on 07823 686568.

News from Local Groups

Asylum Welcome

Asylum Welcome is currently dealing with several people who are street homeless and who have been very glad to be in their cosy offices during the day. They are making them hot food in addition to the usual food parcels. Items currently needed for Asylum Welcome’s foodbank: 1L cooking oil, UHT milk, 1kg sugar, toiletries, nappies, 1 kg flour, long life juice, dried fruit and nuts. Asylum Welcome is also running an allotment, so if anyone is in touch with refugees who like growing things, then please put them in touch with John Fenning at Asylum Welcome. Contact him also about the Adopt a Room scheme, whereby an individual or group can commit to kit out one room in a house for a newly arrived refugee family

Marlow Refugee Action Group

in collaboration with Churches Together in Marlow and Churches Together in Maidenhead has an initiative, reported in the local press, to encourage volunteers to help refugees in Calais over the period of Lent by serving in the kitchens and warehouse there for a few days. 22 people have signed up so far.

New Developments and Resources

Hope for more refugee children to come to UK
Following an agreement between the UK and French governments at the end of January unaccompanied refugee children who arrived in Europe between March 2016 and January 2018 will now also be eligible to come to the UK under the Dubs scheme.

Immigration policy report highlights changes needed 
After eighteen months of considering evidence the Home Affairs Select Committee recently published its report Immigration policy: basis for building consensus. It recommends that the government proactively challenge myths and inaccuracies about immigration, honour its commitments to unaccompanied child refugees and establish a permanent Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

New Resource on Refugees and Mental Health
City of Sanctuary has produced an excellent information pack designed to help people understand the journeys that refugees and asylum seekers have been through that put pressure on their mental health. It includes advice and resources for helping refugees with mental health problems.

Seeking Reform of Family Reunion
Oxfam and the Refugee Council have published a new report “Safe but not Settled: The Impact of Family Separation on Refugees in the UK”. It calls for the government to expand the qualification criteria for family reunion.

Human Flow film by Ai Weiwei
If you missed the recent screenings of this powerful documentary on global migration and would like to show it at a church, school or group you can register your interest with the producers.

New Book about Syria
New book about Syria For those interested in learning more about the history of Syria as a land to which refugees came and now which refugees are leaving, Dawn Chatty has written “Syria – The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State.”

Upcoming Events and Actions

Sunday, 17 March – Refugees Welcome Bloc at the March against Racism

Saturday, 7 April – Sanctuary Hosting volunteer information day

Saturday, 21 April – ‘Partnerships of Hope: Working Together for Refugees

Friday, 11 May – Quiz and Raffle for Witney Refugee Action

Sunday, 20 May – ‘Bike Oxford to Support Asylum Welcome

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

Refugee Support Newsletter – December 2017

In this newsletter

  • New developments and resources

  • News from local groups

  • Upcoming events and actions

New developments and resources

New Refugee Officer

In CCOW’s work on migration and refugees, we realised that many churches are keen to engage with the people and wider issues involved, but need personal support and contact with a network. So after discussions with others in our area who are working with refugees we developed the new role of Churches Refugee Networking Officer. Joanna Schüder works ten hours a week in the new post. You can contact her on or 07823686568

CCOW website

A new section of the CCOW website focuses on refugees and forced migration. It includes: an interactive map showing where refugee support groups in the Thames Valley are located, information about refugees and ways to support them, inspiring case studies of local groups, and a Guide to Online Worship Resources. We hope it’s useful: let us know what you think.

Welcoming Syrian refugees

This downloadable brochure from Citizens UK and others is full of helpful guidance on all steps of community organisation and also offers a link to many further useful documents and templates. Highly recommended.

Foundation for Community Sponsorship of Refugees

In July 2016, the Government launched the community sponsorship scheme, which allows community groups to take on the responsibility of resettling refugee families. On 9th October Citizen’s UK launched Sponsor Refugees, their Foundation for Community Sponsorship of Refugees, which offers support and training for faith and community groups considering or going through the process of becoming a community sponsor. Their website has information on this support, as well as stories of what groups involved are doing.

New research and analysis by Refugee Action  

New research has found that there is inadequate English language provision nationally for refugees, with people having to waiting months, even years to start ESOL classes. Refugee Action is calling on the Government to commit to providing a minimum of eight hours per week of ESOL lessons, to which resettled Syrian refugees are already entitled, for all refugees in Britain.

Refugee Action has also analysed the latest Home Office figures on immigration. They find that as of September 2017,  9,394 people had been welcomed through the government’s Syrian refugee resettlement programme, putting Britain on track to meet its target of welcoming 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. But despite asylum applications overall falling by 21% year on year, the number of people waiting for more than the Government’s target of 6 months for a decision on their claim has risen by 27% to 10,552 … nearly half of all claimants.

News from Local Groups

Wycombe Refugee Partnership

has been awarded one of two 2017 Wilson/Hinkes Peace Awards in recognition of their work resettling refugee families. This was followed by another peace award – from the World Peace Flame Foundation. Congratulations to Wycombe Refugee Partnership and all its volunteers.

Brightwell Supporting Refugees

At the beginning of September, some members visited the schools for Syrian refugee children in Jordan which the group is supporting. They met refugees and charity workers, took donated laptops and tablets which are now in use in the classroom, and gained deeper insight to inspire and inform the group’s work.

Marlow Refugee Action

celebrated its first anniversary in October and launched its Winter Aid Appeal. It’s asking for funds for winter boots for refugees in northern France and for donated items that will go to refugees across Europe and the Middle East.

Faringdon Syrian Refugees Group

has now helped to set up the 8th house for Syrian refugees in the Vale of White horse and South Oxfordshire area. They are working with the Red Cross to help the families arriving under the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Witney Refugee Action

held Asylum Sounds, a fantastic community festival with music, food and fun, showing welcome to the resettled refugee families.

Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group

has started planning to buy, in shared ownership, a house in Bicester to accommodate Syrian refugees. Investors have already raised much of the capital, but they are still looking for some people who can invest at least £5,000 for 5 years.

Upcoming Events and Actions

The CCOW events calendar is updated regularly with events of interest on this and other topics. Take a look!

This email is sent by Christian Concern for One World.(CCOW), The Rectory, Church End, Blewbury OX11 9QH to  people who have expressed an interest in receiving information about our work with refugees.