Refugee Support Newsletter – Interim Bulletin May 2020

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In this newsletter

  • Refugees’ Needs at This Time

  • Resources and Ideas

  • Items of Good News

We normally only send out a newsletter every three months. But as these are fast-changing times we felt we should send this interim bulletin, in order that the information and resources are timely. We hope that it will be useful.
With the usual forms of face-to-face meeting and networking not possible at the moment, we would really value your thoughts on what we at CCOW can do to help people stay connected and to share information. Please contact Joanna with suggestions: joanna@ccow.org.uk 07774 474601.

 

Refugees’ Needs at This Time

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

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

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

Resources and Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Items of Good News

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

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

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

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

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