Please click the link below for CCOW’s briefing on the Nationality and Borders Bill, including suggestions for prayer and action.
CCOW is pleased to be part of the Together With Refugees coalition. Please click the link below for the “Show your heart” leaflet which was distributed at our event in Oxford on 20th October 2021. It gives suggestions for prayer and action for refugees, people who are welcoming them in the UK, and Government policy that is more effective, fair and humane.
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.
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?
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.
support refugee charities and community groups adapting to support people remotely, but facing financial difficulties due to a loss of fundraising income – see details of some local groups’ work and how you can help in “In response to Covid-19”
reach out to refugees living near you – ideas and resources from Welcome Churches (in several languages) to show you care about them
sign Refugee Action’s petition to increase asylum support payments by £20.
Would you or your church like to stand alongside refugees in Oxfordshire … but aren’t sure where to begin? Take a look at our new guide, produced with our local and national partner agencies, including Asylum Welcome, British Red Cross, Connection Support, Refugee Reesource, Refugee Support Network, Sanctuary Housing and Welcome Churches.
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 (www.asylum-welcome.org)
email@example.com 01865 722082
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.
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.
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 (http://allwecan.org.uk/give/current-appeals/refugee-appeal/)
British Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Emergency-response/Current-emergency-appeals/Europe-Refugee-Crisis-Appeal)
Christian Aid (https://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies)
Medecins sans frontieres (MSF) (https://www.msf.org.uk/)
Save the Children (https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/emergencies)
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) (https://donate.unhcr.org/gb-en/general)
World Food Programme (http://www.wfp.org/)
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.
- Weekly football sessions for asylum seekers – Emmanuel Church (www.emmanueloxford.org/city/refugee-football) 01865 204492 with Refugee Resource (www.refugeeresource.org.uk) 01865 403280
- Drop-in service for refugees and asylum seekers at the East Oxford Community Centre – Open Door (www.opendooroxford.org.uk) firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (www.asylum-welcome.org/volunteer)
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.
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.
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) email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
Blackfriars case study: www.ccow.org.uk/what-we-work-on/refugees-and-forced-migration/
Reset Communities and Refugees (www.resetuk.org) firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Refugee Council (www.refugeecouncil.org.uk)
Safe Passage (www.safepassage.org.uk)
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 email@example.com or 07552948688.