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!

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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 Prayer Service Materials

In early 2016, when many in the UK were moved by the news of increased numbers of people fleeing to Europe, Reverend Ben Kautzer, at St Nicolas Church, Earley, prepared a Service of Prayer and Holy Communion for Refugees entitled “Into Deep and Turbulent Waters”. It included a eucharistic liturgy, Bible readings, prayers and four prayer stations relating to the refugees’ journey. The evening proved to be a powerful way of engaging the congregation with the topic of refugees and forced migration.

Whilst some things have changed in the refugee situation since then, the issues facing refugees remain. Worldwide there continue to be millions who flee their homes and undertake perilous journeys in search of refuge, including in Europe. It is as important as ever for Christians to heed the call to prayer and action for refugees.

We are sharing these materials with Ben’s permission, to make it easy for you to hold a similar service, or time of reflection, in your church. With the original resources, we are showing how two different events used them in particular contexts. If you do use Ben’s materials, please do give him credit.

Materials prepared by the Reverend Ben Kautzer

The full order of service:  St Nicolas – Refugee Service Liturgy v2 (17.03.16)

Title posters for each of the four prayer stations: Displacement, Escape, Refuge, Peace

Prayer instructions and other materials placed at each prayer station:

Escape – This prayer station was built around a real rubber dinghy, as a striking reminder of the way many refugees have tried to cross the Mediterranean

Escape – Prayer Instructions

Escape – Definitions

Escape – Poem Fragment

Displacement – This prayer station’s focus was an installation of a refugee camp, made of hundreds of folded card tents, some with LED tea lights underneath – see photo and tent templates below

Displacement – Prayer Instructions

Displacement Refugee Installation – Tent 1

Displacement Refugee Installation – Tent 2

Displacement Refugee Installation – Healing

Displacement – Only a Fraction of Refugees Make It to Europe

Displacement – Jeremiah 8.15

Refuge – This prayer station focused on finding refuge in Europe and organisations helping refugees locally

Refuge – Prayer Instructions

Refuge – Searching for a Home Prayer

Reading Refugee Support Group – Fact Sheet

Reading Refugee Support Group – Poster

Peace – This prayer station used a world map to remember refugees’ countries of origin and plasters as symbols of healing

Peace – Prayer Instructions

Peace – A Prayer for Hope (Christian Aid)

Peace – A Prayer Inspired by Psalm 130

Peace – How long oh Lord

Additional materials, which could be included in the service:

Tearfund – The Bravery of the Syrian Church

Bishops’ Letter to David Cameron

Pope Francis message 2015

Examples of how others have adapted these resources

Didcot Baptist

We had an evening prayer service with a focus on refugees at Didcot Baptist Church on 2nd December 2018:

  • At the start of the service the following slides, clarifying definitions and statistics, were shown: Intro slides – DBC refugee focus prayer service 02.12.18.
  • To highlight that refugees are individuals with their own stories and to encourage empathy, a short extract (the first 3 minutes 53 seconds) of the Jesuit Refugee Service video was shown.
  • Each prayer station consisted of a screen/board with a table and a few chairs in front. The prayer instructions and materials for each were slightly adapted, including incorporating words relating to the refugee experience at each stage Words for each prayer station.
  • For the “Escape” station, having neither enough space nor a dinghy, we instead used photos of refugees fleeing by boat and on foot.
  • The “Displacement” model refugee camp was made from just 20 tents, each with a word on, accompanied by photos of the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan.
  • We added a 5th prayer station “Healing” with a wooden cross and candle – Healing – DBC Prayer Instructions.
  • The “Refuge and Resettlement” prayer station included the names, logos and brief descriptions of Oxford-based organisations supporting refugees and CCOW’s guide What can I do to support refugees – Info for churches – Oxford-updated Feb 2019
  • The “Peace” prayer station highlighted the top five countries of origin of refugees in the world today Top five countries of origin – World Vision and people could add to the map a prayer or the name of a country on their heart, using sticky notes.

CCOW Time for Prayer and Reflection

CCOW offered a morning for prayer and reflection using Ben Kautzer’s four prayer stations and an additional one, ‘Hostility’. A group of about 15 people took part in opening worship, and then made a pilgrimage around the stations. As we reached each prayer station, we listened to stories and readings relating to the station’s theme; after people spent time at each prayer station, there was an opportunity to share reflections and pray. We ended with closing prayers, gathered once again around the ‘Escape’ station. The whole took a little over 2 hours – and was followed by a simple shared lunch. Additional materials prepared by CCOW are below.

Opening Worship

‘Hostility’ Prayer Station – Instructions

Additional Materials for Prayer Stations

Reflections at Prayer Stations

Closing Prayers


Joanna Schüder, CCOW’s Churches Refugee Networking Officer, would be very happy to discuss how you might use these materials in your context. She can share photos and further information about the prayer stations at Didcot Baptist Church and help you access other resources –   07774 474601

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!

What can I do to support refugees? – Information for churches in Oxford

Material Support

Fundraise for a local refugee support group or charity

Hold a concert, sale, tea dance, quiz night … (the possibilities are endless) or take part in a sponsored challenge event, with the proceeds going to a local charity or group supporting refugees, e.g. Asylum Welcome, Refugee Resource, or Sanctuary Hosting. Ask for the charity’s support in organising this.

Luci Ashbourne, Asylum Welcome ( 01865 722082

Refugee Resource ( 01865 403280

Sanctuary Hosting ( 07818 555986

Collect food and toiletries for Asylum Welcome clients

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and often have very limited funds. Place a box in the church for collecting food and toiletries for asylum seekers in Oxford. Asylum Welcome can provide labels for collection boxes and a list of most needed items. Encourage the whole congregation to donate items and when full deliver it to Asylum Welcome’s office at 7 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, OX4 1RE, open weekdays from 9.30am to 4.00pm. Alternatively order online for direct delivery: instructions are at

Asylum Welcome ( 01865 722082

Prepare food for refugees in northern France

Spend a few days, or more, as a kitchen volunteer in Calais with a charity providing food for displaced people living rough in difficult conditions in northern France.

Refugee Community Kitchen (

Donate to help refugees and internally displaced people overseas

The vast majority of refugees are hosted in countries near their country of origin: most Syrian refugees, for example, are in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Many charities are working to assist refugees and internally displaced people in the countries hosting them. These charities include:

  • All We Can (

  • British Red Cross (

  • CAFOD (

  • Oxfam (

  • Save the Children (

  • Tearfund (

Personal Support

Help with social activities for refugees

Social activities are great for individuals’ wellbeing, improving language skills, and integration and also help promote community cohesion. Help with existing activities or start something new.

Volunteer with Asylum Welcome

Asylum Welcome is the largest charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Oxford. With a small team of staff and trustees and over 150 volunteers it provides a wealth of services and advocacy. You could volunteer on reception (half a day a week) or provide information, advice and support to asylum seekers and refugees who come to the office (two half days a week). Training is provided. Asylum Welcome is also looking for people to join the fundraising and comms team. If you are interested in any volunteer role with Asylum Welcome, attend one of the information sessions held every few weeks – dates and further details on the website (

Asylum Welcome 01865 7220

Help with reception and administration at Refugee Resource

Refugee Resource needs more volunteers to help in the daytime with reception and administration (a few hours per week or as a more substantive role). Training provided.

Refugee Resource 01865 403280

Mentor a refugee

As a volunteer with Refugee Resource, meet with a refugee for about 2 hours a week or fortnight in the daytime. Listen, help and support people as they seek to gain access to services, social activities, education and work. Training is provided.

Refugee Resource 01865 403292

Educational mentoring for young people

As a volunteer with the Refugee Support Network, 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.

Torie Stubbs, Mentoring Coordinator – Oxford, Refugee Support Network ( 07562262718

Give language help to resettled Syrian families

If you speak Arabic, volunteer to assist support workers with recently resettled Syrian families. Or if you have an ESOL qualification, volunteer to teach them English.

Connection Support ( 07799110037

Tutor a refugee family member

If you are a university student in Oxford you can register as a volunteer tutor and be linked with a refugee family.

Talisu (

Host a homeless asylum seeker, refugee or vulnerable migrant

Many refugees in the UK experience destitution, for example when their asylum claim is refused or when they are granted refugee status but are then left without any benefits or housing. Award-winning local charity Sanctuary Hosting can help you host a homeless asylum seeker, refugee or vulnerable migrant rent free in your spare room for an agreed period of time. Share not only your home but also social and cultural experiences, supported throughout by a volunteer support worker.

Elaine Savage, Service Coordinator, Sanctuary Hosting ( 07818555986

Community Sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family

Form a group offering full support to enable a Syrian refugee family to be resettled to Oxford under the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme. Groups need to work under the auspices of a charity and are responsible for organising accommodation, welcome, orientation, English language instruction, and help accessing services and employment. This may sound daunting, but there is much assistance and advice available from Sponsor Refugees and Blackfriars Oxford, a local church which has already done this, as well as from Oxford City Council and local refugee support charities. Community Sponsorship is a really tangible and personal way of responding to the needs of refugees and can be an extremely positive experience for the group too.

Shirley Hoy of Blackfriars Refugee

Blackfriars case study:

Bekele Woyecha at Sponsor Refugees ( 07504001756

Reset Communities and Refugees ( 020 3582 9882

Advocacy & Awareness Raising

Organise an event for Refugee Week

Refugee week, in June each year, is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Get ideas and tips on organising your event, as well as events listings, from the Refugee Week website.

Refugee Week (

Campaign on behalf of refugees – petitions, letters, lobbying MPs and Councils

Refugees suffer many injustices and hardships, overseas and in the UK, and there is much which needs improving. You can help change policy and practice affecting refugees. Keep informed of the issues and latest petitions and campaigns by signing up for CCOW’s quarterly email Refugee Support Newsletter and/or emails or mailings, from refugee charities.

CCOW (Christian Concern for One World) ( 07774474601

Refugee Council (

Safe Passage (

CTBI (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) Focus on Refugees


This resource was prepared by Christian Concern for One World (CCOW) & updated in July 2019.

For over two decades, CCOW has been working with Christians who seek to discern what ‘doing justice,’ ‘loving kindness,’ and ‘walking humbly with God’ mean for us in our globalised world.

For further information or to request that information be added to future editions of this resource, please contact Joanna Schüder, CCOW’s Churches Refugee Networking Officer on or 07552948688.

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 Week, Working Together for Refugees, Sharing the Journey of Migrants and Refugees: 17 to 23 June

In this email:

  • Refugee Week 
  • Working Together for Refugees
  • Sharing the Journey of Migrants and Refugees

One theme of this week’s Revised Common Lectionary readings is God’s use of what is seemingly small and insignificant to do great things for God’s Kingdom. It’s a reminder that all of us, however apparently small or great, are made in the image and likeness of God and can be the source of great blessings by God’s grace. As we approach Refugee Week, how can we promote this sense of the preciousness and potential for blessing in each person?

Refugee Week

Refugee Week takes place from the 18th to the 24th of this month – and our email pieces this week have positive stories to tell about work that is happening locally and about a conference held at the UN looking at faith responses to refugees.

We need positive stories since it often feels that, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al Hussein, recently said, we are moving “backwards to an era of contempt for the rights of people who have been forced to flee or leave their homes because the threats they face are more dangerous even than the perils of their voyage.” In recent stories from Europe alone, Italy and Malta refused to admit the SS Aquarius rescue ship; a report stated that French police mistreat child refugees; measures were proposed that could criminalise helping migrants seek asylum in Hungary;  and Caroline Lucas spoke of the psychological impact of the UK’s use of  indefinite detention.  And there are many more examples from other countries.

Please pray fervently for the safety and well-being of all who have been forced to flee their homes. We would also encourage you also to show your concern for refugees by coming to some of the varied local events celebrating Refugee Week.

Working Together for Refugees

Only about 0.2% of the world’s refugees are hosted by the UK, according to UN statistics, and the Thames Valley has become home to only a small proportion of those. But our area has a long history of welcoming people seeking asylum and continues to do so, including, since 2015, through the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).

Many Christians and others of goodwill across the Thames Valley have felt moved to assistrefugees, both those overseas and those on our doorstep. CCOW is helping network these churches, groups and individuals, and to connect and resource those who are interested in joining them. If you’d like to know more about the groups we work with, or explore some of the resources we offer, see our webpage.

A major step in bringing people together was “Partnerships of Hope – Working Together for Refugees”, organised by CCOW at New Road Baptist Church in Oxford on 21st April 2018. Around 100 people took part, all active in supporting refugees or interested in doing so. During the day’s talks, workshops and networking times, the harsh realities faced by refugees and the frustrations and challenges experienced by those wanting to help were voiced. But the atmosphere of the day was extremely positive, as we also heard and learned from many examples of good practice and great achievements for and by refugees. You can read the summary of the day here.

Among the themes emerging from “Partnerships of Hope” was a desire for more networking opportunities, ongoing communication between the different groups supporting refugees and more effective external communication. In response, we are planning a day in the Autumn, kindly facilitated by Jillian Moody, media consultant, for the groups to think through communications strategies. We’re also thinking of networking local churches engaged in assisting refugees, by creating an online forum and organising a retreat day.

Please pray

  • for people who have come here as refugees. Pray that they would be made welcome and receive whatever help they need as they integrate into the UK
  • for local groups and organisations seeking to walk alongside refugees, for adequate funds and volunteers and good communications
  • for a greater culture of welcome and celebration of diversity in the UK
  • for more local churches and individuals to engage with topics relating to refugees and forced migration, and to get involved
  • for wisdom and direction for CCOW’s ongoing work around refugees and forced migration

Action Point: Please contact Joanna if you are interested in any aspect of our work around refugees.

Sharing the Journey of Migrants and Refugees  

This is less about subtle negotiations of words and phrases, and more fully about real people’s lives.”

Revd. Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance

In September this year, two major new compacts on migration and refugees will be presented for adoption by member states at the United Nations General Assembly. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be the first global agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN that addresses ‘all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner’. The complementary Global Compact on Refugees seeks to establish a wide-ranging and more equitable global response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations. It is hoped that this response will better support both refugees and the communities that host them.

Both compacts will have involved almost two years of consultations and negotiations following the New York Declaration in December 2016.

Ahead of the latest round of consultations on the compacts, Caritas Internationalis and the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN recently co-hosted an interfaith conference at the United Nations in New York. Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist leaders brought different perspectives to the question of how the global community can achieve effective international cooperation and shared responsibility to alleviate the suffering and build hope for millions of refugees and migrants. The voices of migrants and refugees were also heard. Reverend Rachel Carnegie, the co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, was invited to offer the concluding remarks at this significant event.

We’ve excerpted some of the discussions here; you can read a fuller summary involving all the participants on our website.

Faith based organisations not only relevant but crucial

In his opening remarks, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the UN, who chaired the session, described how faith-based organisations provide so much of the infrastructure for the immediate and long term support for refugees and migrants. He talked of a person-centred, holistic approach, helping refugees and migrants to achieve their full potential while enriching their new societies through the exchange of talents and culture. “Even when [a migrant] is of a different faith, many know of the reputation of faith based organisations to extend care to anyone in need, because of the principles of charity, mercy and solidarity flowing from that faith. Faith based organisations start not from political or economic perspectives, but from the affirmation of the human dignity of all people before all else. This person-centred approach, while not unique to faith based organisations, is at the heart of all their work. It also inspires a more holistic approach to caring for the migrant and their families, rather than addressing migration simply as a political or economic problem. Faith based organisations typically address the needs of every person as an individual in communion with others and the common good of all society.”

After outlining the wide range of practical responses of faith based organisations in the care of migrants, Archbishop Auza said, “During negotiations towards the global compacts there has been discussion on the role of faith based organisations. Some have questioned their relevance but as today’s event hopes to show, we are not only relevant but crucial to help migrants and refugees and also to the work of states in caring for them. The pivotal part they play in welcoming, protecting, promoting, integrating and sharing the journey of migrants and refugees should be noted and lifted up as an example for all of civil society and receive explicit reference in the global compacts.”

There must have been a refugee or migrant in all our pasts

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the President of Caritas Internationalis and the Archbishop of Manila, reflected on the guiding principles set out by Pope Francis – the four verbs that articulate our shared responsibility – to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees at all stages of their journey. He reflected on his own family history of migration, and said,

“We invite everyone here never to forget that in our families, clans or peoples there must have been a migrant or a refugee some time, somewhere. In their name the God of Israel calls us to love the stranger, but will we remember or choose to forget? …. Christians believe that Jesus migrated from the condition of being God’s glorious son to that of being a lowly human being. As a baby he became a refugee in Egypt with his parents to escape the ire of Herod. He praised outsiders in his stories, like the Good Samaritan, and presented strangers as models of faith, such as the woman of Samaria at the well, the grateful Samaritan healed of leprosy, the persistent Syro-Phoenician mother, the Roman centurion who cared for his servant and believed his word, and to cap it all, Jesus identified himself with strangers. ‘When I was a stranger, you made me welcome’ (Matthew 25) declaring that what we do, or fail to do, to strangers we do, or fail to do, for him.

For Christians a stranger has a human face – the face of Jesus”.

To turn one’s back on migrants is to turn one’s back on God himself

Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, spoke about the duty of a society to its own citizens, alongside its obligation to maximalise human dignity and freedom for all – preventing exploitation, and enabling safe and secure passage for people on the move – as well as ensuring decent living and social conditions for refugees and migrants. As did Cardinal Tagle, Rabbi Rosen reflected on the Biblical mandate to care for the “stranger” and the centrality of the experience of migration to the Biblical narrative.

“We are commanded not only to love our neighbour in the Bible, but also specifically to love and empathise with others who seek to dwell in our community…. The Hebrew word ‘ger’ that is commonly translated as stranger is better translated in terms of the meaning in Hebrew as sojourner. … As it is written in Leviticus and Exodus, ‘for you know the soul of the sojourner for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt’. The ancient Jewish sages point out that our historical sojourner experience is referred to more than anything else in the Hebrew Bible, some 36 times, precisely in order to serve as inspiration for our moral conduct.

“Not for nothing does the history of Biblical salvation begin with a story of a migrant, Abraham, who leaves his birth place in Ur of the Chaldees, in today’s Iraq, for a better future for himself and his family, to contribute to a better future for humanity…. The orientating event of Biblical sacred history is the emigration experience, being delivered from persecution and journeying towards a better future in a promised land.

“To turn one’s back on another in need, but especially those whose very existence is vulnerable, most dramatically evidenced in the plight of refugees and migrants, and especially the children among them, is to turn one’s back on God himself.”

Otherness does not start with the other. It starts with ourselves

Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of France, spoke of faith communities as bridge builders. He talked of the need to re-humanise the other, through encounter, reflecting in particular on the responsibility to care for young people on the move seeking safer lives, better opportunities, futures of hope.

“Most people want to reside and prosper in the land of their birth. This is natural. Yet to do so they require safety, food security, economic opportunity, freedom from environmental distress and prospects for their children’s future. Forced migration is the result of war, poverty and environmental degradation and climate change that compel people to leave their homelands. Because of these factors we are currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. And the face of the migrant is increasingly a youthful face. For the first time in history, half of all refugees are children and youths and one in every 200 children in the world today is a refugee.

“ ‘Otherness’ is another item connected to migration. It is a perception based on our territory. The imagined ‘other’ is often part of a narrative in which the definition of oneself comes with limits and borders… Speaking about identity or even multiple identities remains a taboo in many societies because it goes against the grand narrative of many nation states that base the concept of national identity on this grand national narrative. However, globalization continues to challenge the ethno-national model and exposes us to ethnic, religious and cultural otherness to a degree never before seen in the history of the world…. Otherness does not start with the other. It starts with ourselves – with the many layers of identity that make a person unique.

“We must continue to think that we are bridge builders rather than the builders of walls. And we must bring hope and peace to this world that it needs more and more today.”

A key theme running through the session was the importance of bringing a human face to the statistics of migration and to acknowledge all that migrants and refugees contribute to their new societies.

The moment I was on my feet, I wanted to help and give back

A refugee from Iraq shared his own story. He spoke of how before the Iraq war of 2003 his family had lived a very comfortable life in Iraq. After the war, as people were being kidnapped and killed his family resisted moving, determined to stay in their home country. Even when his family was robbed at gunpoint in their home, his parents still would not leave the country. ‘Leaving the country – for anyone it’s a big decision’, he said. ‘It’s really, really hard’.

Another year later, in 2006, he was kidnapped and a ransom demanded. For 9 days he was tortured. On his release the family was told they would be killed should they be seen again in Baghdad, at which point they finally decided to flee the country. Leaving with hardly anything, they went first to Syria where their passports were stamped ‘not allowed to work’ on entry. ‘Imagine starting a new life somewhere you can’t work’, he said. ‘How’s that going to work?’

With the family’s life savings completely used up, the family applied to the UN for refugee status and after two years of vetting the family was given the opportunity to move to the US.

‘We’re very grateful that we’re here, but it’s not easy. Being a refugee in a new country with new language, new everything – I almost felt that I was in a different world’. Watching his parents, ‘the strongest two people in my life’, struggle with the challenges of their new life – worrying about how they would find work, provide food and pay their bills – motivated him to work three jobs along with his college studies so he could help his family. ‘The moment that I felt I was on my feet, the first thing that came to my mind was that I wanted to help and give back to the community. I’ve been working for a charity since 2012 helping immigrants, refugees and people from here just helping whoever needs help. I am just one example out of millions.’

Representatives from various member states of the UN attended the session and were warm in their appreciation for the faith perspective and contribution to inform the upcoming negotiations. Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the UN, said, ‘As a member state of this organisation, I am very happy and glad that I came. It is not every day that you see such an inclusive panel… A better world is possible, we all know that, but it has to take a lot of understanding from our part… This has been very clarifying for me… we thank you for giving us a very clear vision. My delegates and I are going into the next stage of negotiations with the four points you have mentioned very clearly: welcome, promote, protect and integrate’.

Ambassador Saint Hilaire of Haiti also expressed his gratitude for all the panel were doing. ‘Your actions are very inspiring to us as member states, he said. ‘You are making the difference. Thank you so much’.

Keep the image of a migrant or refugee actively present in our minds

In her concluding reflections, Revd. Rachel Carnegie appealed to all to ‘keep the image of a migrant or refugee known personally to us actively present in our minds as the discussions move forward’.

And she articulated four key challenges for the journey ahead:

  1. How can we make the Global Compacts a vision of hope, of humanity and our common good?
  2. How can we make them stronger in upholding the dignity of migrants and refugees?
  3. How can we overcome our internal barriers and become inclusive societies in an interconnected world?
  4. How can we renew, as the United Nations of the world’s peoples, our commitment for peace, solidarity and justice?

Please pray:

  • that the ongoing negotiations around the global compacts will result in documents that genuinely offer a vision of hope, humanity and our common good.
  • for all who are working to assure recogntion at local, national and international level of the dignity of migrants and refugees
  • in thanksgiving for the work people of faith are doing to promote the dignity of migrants and refugees      

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!