Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2021

Read our Refugee Support Newsletter September 2021 here

New Plan for Immigration – pray & act

Please click the link below for the PowerPoint slides used at our Time of Prayer for Refugees and Those Walking Alongside on 26th April 2021. They give prayer pointers and suggestions for action, including responding to the government’s consultation by 5th May 2021.

April 2021 Time of Prayer for Refugees – New Plan for Immigration

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2021

Read our Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2021 here

Refugee Support Newsletter – December 2020

Read our Refugee Support Newsletter – December 2020 here

Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2020

In this newsletter

  • New Monthly Time of Prayer for Refugees

  • News from CCOW

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Time of Prayer for Refugees and Those Walking Alongside

On Tuesday 18th August, we held our first online monthly ‘Time of Prayer for Refugees and Those Walking Alongside’. It was a joy and privilege to join with other Christians who care about refugees, to hear from Vanessa Faulkner and others involved in Marlow Refugee Action, and  to pray for their work, other local groups, the UK and global situation.

The next meeting will be on Monday 21st September, 7.30-8.15pm. We look forward to hearing from Sarah Wahby and Goytom Fissehaye, Service Manager & Trustee of Sanctuary Hosting, to inform our prayers. We will also focus our prayers this month around people who have made or are making perilous sea crossings. Please register on Eventbrite to receive the login details.

News from CCOW

CCOW’s Refugee Networking Officer, Joanna Schüder, has a new mobile number: 07552 948688. She would love to hear from you on this number or by email: joanna@ccow.org.uk.

New on CCOW’s website:

News from Local Groups

Asylum Welcome resumed face-to-face client services, by appointment only, in mid July. New staff appointments have included Caritas Umulisa as Assistant Youth Service Coordinator.
Charlbury Refugee Action has raised over £15,000 already this year for charities alleviating conditions for refugees in Europe. The group continues with imaginative fundraising initiatives, like a virtual team concert and downloadable recipe book.
Host Abingdon and Faringdon Refugees Group have now finished officially supporting the Syrian families who came to Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire under the government’s resettlement scheme. Some volunteers will however remain in friendly contact with the families and support will be given when they move into new accommodation.
Refugee Resource has adapted all of its services to continue running throughout the pandemic, which has been a lifeline for refugees and asylum seekers facing complex trauma, increased isolation and multiple other hardships. On October 14th 2020 Refugee Resource celebrates its 21st anniversary. To continue these vital services, support those running a half marathon in aid of Refugee Resource.

Sanctuary Hosting continues to host and support around 10 guests, one of whom recently gained a scholarship to Oxford Brookes University. More volunteer hosts are needed throughout the Thames Valley and also a web developer to enhance their website.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership has supported their 21st family to secure a rental proerty in London so the parents, both doctors, can complete their remaining exams and hopefully soon work in the NHS. WRP is currently looking for: bikes (helmets, pumps and locks), bedding, van drivers with vans, someone experienced with Universal Credit, an Albanian speak and qualified ESOL teachers.

Resources

A coalition of 42 refugee support charities released in July “Wake Up Call”, a report detailing how a transition in government contracts at the end of 2019 disrupted the asylum accommodation and support system, causing serious difficulties for many people within the system. The report offers recommendations for the Home Office to improve asylum support and accommodation provision.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Churches Refugee Network has held a series of useful webinars. One is a panel discussion of how COVID-19 has affected Immigration Issues in Britain and Ireland; another focuses particularly on COVID-19 and Refugee and Asylum Issues.
Sponsor Refugees has launched a new Community Sponsorship online portal to help groups through the sponsorship process step by step – sign up free here. See also their introductory flier on how to become a community sponsor.
At a time of unhelpful political rhetoric against people seeking to reach the UK, Refugee Council’s post “Channel crossings: it’s time to set the record straight” gives clear facts, figures and explanations. Full Fact’s article explaining that there is no obligation on refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach is also useful.

Actions

Asylum Matters and NACCOM have produced a fact sheet “Everyone Out?”which you can use to write to your MP urging the government to prevent evictions from asylum accommodation into homelessness  during Covid-19 and beyond.

Read City of Sanctuary‘s suggestions on action we can take to Stand up for Sanctuary, including templates, links and a petition, for writing to our MPs, sharing positive stories on social media, and complaining about media coverage.

Following the devastating fire in Moria refugee camp last week, Choose Love has come together with over 200 other organisations to launch a petition calling on European leaders to act now – Fire Moria Camp: Call for urgent evacuation and radical change.

Upcoming Events

Monday 28th September – NACCOM The No Accommodation Network AGM
Monday 5th October – Healthcare Conferences UK conference – Improving Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Saturday 7th November – National Refugee Prayer Hour

 

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

Subscribe to this quarterly email Refugee Support Newsletter at: www.ccow.org.uk/manage-your-preferences/. We also regularly post on Twitter about refugee issues, campaigns and events. Follow @CCOWinfo.

Time of Prayer for Refugees Globally

This powerpoint was created for one of our online refugee prayer times. You can use the material for your own reflection or with your house group, church, or Churches Together group.

Download the Time of Prayer for Refugees Globally

Refugee Support Newsletter – June 2020

In this newsletter

  • Interview with Vanessa Faulkner of Marlow Refugee Action

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Interview with Vanessa Faulkner

“Establishing a law centre in Samos is probably the thing that as a group I’m most proud of … From Marlow there are three young volunteers in their twenties who have done amazing things .. Just step out, be brave and do something …”

Listen here to some short items from an interview with Vanessa Faulkner, co-founder of Marlow Refugee Action. Hear what motivated her to get involved, highlights of Marlow Refugee Action’s activities, her reflections on the impacts of COVID-19, how local churches have become involved in Marlow Refugee Action’s work … and more.

Resources

The organisers of Refugee Week have produced a pack of Activities for Children and Young People.

Awareness-raising resources for schools, around refugees and children in migration, including video testimonials of young refugees now in the UK, have been produced by My Bright Kite.

Free Movement have put together many free resources on asylum law on their Asylum Hub and have released five short introductory videos on refugee law.

Two Oxford Brookes Sanctuary Scholarships are offered to asylum seekers for 2020/21. Applications, accompanied by a referee supporting statement, can be submitted until 6th July 2020.

A new website, Refugee Action Good Practice, has information for organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. This includes practical guidance on best ways to make destitution payments during the pandemic and ways to prevent digital exclusion.

Particular problems experienced by refugees, asylum seekers and others at this time, and recommendations for the authorities, are highlighted in a report by Doctors of the World “An Unsafe Distance: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Excluded People in England”.

At the end of an article on integration, Sponsor Refugees gives links to six free online courses provided by various universities and the British Council, e.g. Working Supportively with Refugees, Migrants and refugees in Education, Refugees in the 21st Century.

report by the Home Affairs Committee on the Home Office’s response to the impact of Covid-19 on the immigration and visa systems was published on 16th June. Further changes it recommends include the temporarily lifting of the No Recourse to Public Funds condition and the widening of the free visa extensions for NHS medical staff to all NHS employees and social care workers, as lower paid staff such as hospital porters are currently not eligible. The exemption of NHS staff and social care employees from the NHS surcharge announced on 21st May was welcomed, but this doctors and nurses report that they continue to have to pay it and are uncertain whether the payments will be refunded.

Actions

With the government announcing on 8th June that asylum support allowance would be increased by just £1.85 a week, 220 organisations wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to reconsider. You can add your name to the Refugee Council’s letter to the Home Secretary calling for immediate changes.

The Government’s position in Brexit negotiations with the EU, as shown in documents released in May, is that refugee children in Europe will not have the same rights of reunification with family in the UK as they currently do. Safe Passage is calling on people to sign a petition to the Home Office to keep reuniting child refugees with their families after Brexit, for this to be a mandatory obligation and the right to appeal protected.

As normal events are not possible at the moment, many refugee groups and charities have created some imaginative initiatives to raise awareness and funds, which you could try, e.g.

Upcoming Events

We’re coming to the end of Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. This year it is being held online, so there are still many events you can get involved with – see their events calendar. Join with Christians from across the UK for a National Refugee Prayer Hour on Saturday 20th June, World Refugee Day.

 

Wednesday 24th June – The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture – Mobility and immobility in the time of coronavirus: reflections from long-term study of migration and displacement (Refugee Studies Centre)

Wednesday 1st July – 17th IMISCOE Annual Conference (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe) )

Wednesday 22nd July – Online Training For Church Refugee Workers – Rebuilding your team after lockdown (Welcome Churches)

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

Subscribe to this quarterly email Refugee Support Newsletter at: www.ccow.org.uk/manage-your-preferences/.

We also regularly post on Twitter about refugee issues, campaigns and events. Follow @CCOWinfo.

Refugee Support Newsletter – Interim Bulletin May 2020

Sign up here to receive our Refugee Support Newsletter by email once every three months

In this newsletter

 

  • Refugees’ Needs at This Time

  • Resources and Ideas

  • Items of Good News

We normally only send out a newsletter every three months. But as these are fast-changing times we felt we should send this interim bulletin, in order that the information and resources are timely. We hope that it will be useful.
With the usual forms of face-to-face meeting and networking not possible at the moment, we would really value your thoughts on what we at CCOW can do to help people stay connected and to share information. Please contact Joanna with suggestions: joanna@ccow.org.uk 07552948688.

 

Refugees’ Needs at This Time

There is concern about inequalities experienced by people in the UK because of their immigration status –
  • A number of organisations are calling on the government to grant Leave to Remain to everyone with insecure immigration status – see the petition signed by the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network and others and also the letter from the Jesuit Refugee Service together with 30 other organisations written to the Prime Minister.

Globally refugees could be some of the worst hit by Covid-19 and many agencies, charities and support groups are responding with emergency medical, hygiene, shelter and food supplies and are appealing for donations, e.g. UNHCR , Donate4RefugeesMed’EqualiTeam.

>Following recent devastating fires in the refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos, Samos Volunteers sent an open letter to the European Commission calling on them to urgently assist Greece in evacuating the 38,700 people living in the camps of the Aegean Islands.

 

Resources and Ideas

At CCOW, we have been busy updating the resources on the Refugees and Forced Migration page of our website and creating some new ones.

  • You can find information about what local refugee charities and groups are doing at this time and how you can get involved, as well as up-to-date sources of information, in the updated document In response to Covid-19.
  • Our latest website post Supporting Refugees Locally at a Time of Coronavirus gives additional information, prayer points and actions, primarily around current needs of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in the UK during the pandemic.
  • Some basic facts and figures now contains the latest available statistics and our Guide to online worship resources has some new items and links.
  • We have also kept adding to our Events calendar as there are lots of interesting seminars, training opportunities and meetings now happening online. Look out especially for this year’s Refugee Week, 15th -21st  June, including film screenings and discussions.

Refugee Action has created a Coronavirus Asylum Handbook as a collaborative resource for organisations supporting refugees in the UK. It shares practical tips on how organisations are adapting at this time with links to useful websites.

Refugee Council has created a “Your questions answered” page where you can watch their Head of Advocacy giving clear and succinct responses to e.g. Why don’t asylum seekers in the UK have the right to work? How will the asylum interview process continue during COVID-19? What will be the major changes to the UK asylum policy after Brexit?
They are also offering a free My Refugee Friend activity to teach children about the challenges that refugee children face.

Doctors of the World is working with the British Red Cross and others to provide COVID-19 guidance in 51 languages.

The Book of the Month from Oxford University’s Social Science LibraryThe health of refugees: public health perspectives from crisis to settlement, whilst written pre Covid-19 pandemic is particularly relevant at this time.

Right to Remain has developed an online version of the Asylum Navigation Board game. Information Cards and Problem Cards help participants to understand each step of the UK asylum system and what people can do to be in a better position.

Oxford City Council’s Activity Hub has links to a wealth of events and activities online, as well as commuity volunteering opportunities and advice for wellbeing at this time.

Details of two university scholarships for asylum seekers – application deadline 16 th June – are publicised by Refugee Support Network. These can make a huge difference to someone’s life who would otherwise not be able to get higher education, being ineligible for student finance.

Items of Good News

Hear how one local charity is adapting its services to continue to support refugees – an interview with Refugee Resource’s children’s psychotherapist on BBC Radio Oxford (skip to 1:25:30, 2.5 minutes long).

Asylum Welcome has welcomed their new director, Mark Goldring, and is providing ongoing support for clients.

Safe Passage now has a Young Leaders group made up of 16-25 year olds from refugee backgrounds. Despite not being able to meet in person after their inspiring initial training session they are continuing to develop their skills in campaigning and advocacy through weekly online meetings.

Campaigning by Safe Passage culminated on 11 th May with 47 people from Greek refugee camps being reunited with family in the UK

Imix, a group of communications professionals trying “to change the conversation about migration and refugees to create a more welcoming society” shared  stories of acts of kindness by refugees and migrants around the world during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Supporting Refugees Locally at a Time of Coronavirus

Refugees, here in the UK and around the world, need our support more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.

People who have fled their homes are often living in crowded camps or rough settlements, unable to self-isolate, practise social distancing or wash hands regularly. The majority are displaced within their own countries or in neigbouring countries, many of which have healthcare systems unable to cope with COVID-19, through the effects of war or longterm economic weakness. With borders closed many are trapped, such as on the Greek islands, unable to continue their journey.

Those who are now in the UK often find themselves isolated, as their social networks are still limited and refugee charities have been forced to scale back their services. Access to appropriate housing, healthcare and vital supplies and services is now a problem for many, particularly for asylum seekers and others with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Many people, including the Mayor of London and migrants’ rights charities are calling for a suspension of NRPF, and the Home Office is rethinking this policy but the Home Secretary’s current position is that since people with NRPF are eligible for some of the government’s Covid-19 support measures and some individuals can apply to have their NRPF restriction lifted,this is sufficient. Refugee Charities are also calling on the government to increase asylum support payments in line with the increase in Universal Credit which was made in response to the pandemic. With regards to healthcare, whilst treatment for COVID-19 has been made free to everyone, treatment for underlying health conditions would still need to be paid for by some people, deterring them from seeking medical care. So Doctors of the World, the BMA and refugee charities are calling on the government to suspend NHS charging regulations.

What can we do?

Pray

  • for measures to help protect refugees from COVID-19 to be implemented

  • for those in the asylum process whose immigration interviews have been suspended at this time and those for whom the process of family reunion has stalled

  • for those in need of a safe place to live – give thanks that those in UK asylum accommodation have been permitted to stay there for the next 3 months, that all those on the streets are to be housed by local authorities and that many have been released from immigration detention centres. Pray for all who are still in shared accommodation.

  • for those with No Recourse to Public Funds and those prevented from accessing healthcare due to NHS Charging Regulations

  • for refugees who are qualified health workers but have not yet completed the process of registration in the UK – give thanks that they can now work in the NHS as Medical Support Workers, but pray they may soon get registration so they can use their full skills at this time of urgent medical need.

…and act