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.

Odette Gbeve, Development Officer, Asylum Welcome  (www.asylum-welcome.org)

development@asylum-welcome.org   01865 722082

               Refugee Resource (www.refugeeresource.org.ukinfo@refugeeresource.org  01865 403280

Sanctuary Hosting (www.sanctuaryhosting.org)     info@sanctuaryhosting.org  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 http://www.asylum-welcome.org/donate/food-donations.

Asylum Welcome  (www.asylum-welcome.org)   food@asylum-welcome.org   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  (www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com) refugeecommunitykitchen@gmail.com

 

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:

 

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 visit a detainee in Campsfield House regularly (2 hours a week) , offering them emotional support and passing on any issues to Asylum Welcome’s Detainee Support Team. Other roles include those providing information, advice and support to detainees or to asylum seekers and refugees who come to the office (two half days a week). Training is provided. 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  (www.asylum-welcome.org/volunteer)

Asylum Welcome    volunteer@asylum-welcome.org    01865 7220

 

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    ruthh@refugeeresource.org    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 (www.refugeesupportnetwork.org)

tstubbs@refugeesupportnetwork.org  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  (www.connectionsupport.org.uk/projects/svprs) volunteer@connectionsupport.org.uk   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 (www.tasilu.org)  tasilu.tutoring@gmail.com

 

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 (www.sanctuaryhosting.org)

               info@sanctuaryhosting.org  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 Aidsenteniaconsulting@gmail.com

Blackfriars case study coming soon: www.ccow.org.uk/what-we-work-on/refugees-and-forced-migration/

Bekele Woyecha at Sponsor Refugees (www.sponsorrefugees.org) communitysponsorship@citizensuk.org  07504001756

 

 

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 (www.refugeeweek.org.uk) brightonandhove@cityofsanctuary.org

 

 

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) (www.ccow.org.uk) joanna@ccow.org.uk 07774474601

Refugee Council (www.refugeecouncil.org.uk)

               Safe Passage (www.safepassage.org.uk)

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

                               (www.focusonrefugees.org)

               Close Campsfield (www.closecampsfield.wordpress.com)

 

This resource was prepared by Christian Concern for One World (CCOW) in October 2018.

 

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 joanna@ccow.org.uk or 07774474601.

 

Giving to support refugees in other countries

Most displaced people are living either in their own countries or as refugees in the countries nearest to them.  Uganda is currently hosting more than a million South Sudanese refugees; Lebanon over a million Syrians; Bangladesh almost three quarters of a million – over half a million of whom have arrived within a very few weeks.

It’s vital to get resources to places where there is most need. Here are some organisations to which you can contribute in order to help. The links go directly to pages listing their appeals or work with refugees.

 

Featured Image: ‘Getting Syria’s children back to school in Lebanon‘, Russell Watkins/Department for International Development, used under Creative Commons License

Helping Syrian Refugees

Introductory Resources

UK Government – Syria Refugees: What you can do to help

Introductory UK government information for people wanting to help Syrian refugees (Nov 2015). Covers a wide range of opportunities and contains links to other organisations

Refugees Welcome
National campaign by Citizens UK networking and giving advice, support and training for local groups welcoming refugees. Offers statistics, guidance in formulating a refugee welcome plan, campaigns materials, stories, access to training, links to local and national groups, etc. You might want to take a look at the Welcoming Syrian Refugees: An Introductory Guide booklet Citizens UK produced with the Rural Refugee Network and others.

Resources on Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme and Community Sponsorship

Local Government Association
Guide (Spring 2016)  “for all those in local authorities who have a role in leading, planning, delivering and continually seeking to improve services for resettled Syrian refugees” Helpful information to give background on local authority options and to offer to local authorities new to the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme.

Reading Borough Council
Report (16.01.17) on Reading’s participation in the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement (SVPR) Programme: useful as it gives details of the programme, including budgets, partners and their contributions, etc.

UK Government – Community Sponsorship Overview
Community Sponsorship Scheme for refugees in the UK, launched July 2016 – includes link to application form & guidance for full community sponsor and resettlement plan template

UK Government – Community Sponsorship Guidance
Government publication (July 2016) “Full Community Sponsorship – Guidance for prospective sponsors” for community groups wanting to apply to welcome & support resettled refugee families

Sponsor Refugees 
Citizens UK Foundation for Community Sponsorship of Refugees offers support and training for faith and community groups considering or going through the process of becoming a community sponsor. Their website has information on this support, as well as stories of what groups involved are doing.

Caritas Social Action Network

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

 

Image: ‘Refugee milestone‘, Scottish Government, used under Creative Commons License