Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2018

In this newsletter
  • 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.