Tag Archive for: Latest Refugee News

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2021

Read our Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2021 here

Refugee Support Newsletter – September 2020

In this newsletter

  • New Monthly Time of Prayer for Refugees

  • News from CCOW

  • News from Local Groups

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Time of Prayer for Refugees and Those Walking Alongside

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

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

News from CCOW

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

New on CCOW’s website:

News from Local Groups

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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


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

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

Refugee Support Newsletter – June 2020

In this newsletter

  • Interview with Vanessa Faulkner of Marlow Refugee Action

  • Resources

  • Actions

  • Upcoming Events

Interview with Vanessa Faulkner

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee Support Newsletter – Interim Bulletin May 2020

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

In this newsletter


  • Refugees’ Needs at This Time

  • Resources and Ideas

  • Items of Good News

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


Refugees’ Needs at This Time

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

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

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


Resources and Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Items of Good News

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2020 (Part 2)

  • Updates on local groups

  • Online resources and opportunities

  • Prayers

Welcome to Part 2 of our March newsletter with information to help us stay connected and continue to support refugees in these challenging times.


Updates on local groups


 This week Asylum Welcome is almost entirely closed, prioritising a list of around 40 of their current most vulnerable clients for ongoing help. Please help keep the pressure off their reduced team: no drop ins! Email advice@asylum-welcome.org if you know of anyone else needing help. Supporters can donate online or by bank transfer.

British Red Cross is currently updating information on the availability and contact details of their serices due to coronavirus. You can still donate to support their work.

Under the current circumstances Connection Support is not visiting the Syrian refugee families it supports. But they could really do with people offering to volunteer who could spend time phoning the families just for everyday conversation. Also helping families with the children’s school work via whatsapp or other similar social media facilities. Anyone interested should contact their volunteers coordinator on kevinburrows@connectionsupport.org.uk

Refugee Resource‘s offices are now closed but they continue to provide remote support. Many fundraising events have been cancelled, but the Oxford Half Marathon in October is still going ahead for now. So any runners who are keen to keep their fitness up & work towards this please consider signing up to run on behalf of Refugee Resource. They would also welcome donations to support the loss of income from community fundraising.

Refugee Support Network is trying to provide support round-the-clock for vulnerable, isolated refugees and asylum seekers at this unique time. Lockdown can be a very challenging time for those with recent experience of such/being unable to escape, and isolation can be very difficult for those recently arrived who have a very limited social network. RSN is also keen not to lose momentum on its building campaign to bring a unique refugee education centre and social impact hub to one of the most deprived areas of London. You can support the Refugees during Covid-19 campaign to keep key services running and the Sending Solidarity campaign, in which members of the public can, beyond making a donation, send a postcard or photo of to a vulnerable or isolated refugee who RSN works with.

Sanctuary Hosting is continuing to actively support their 14 guests, while also ensuring hosts and support workers can continue in their roles. A number of hosts have had to end their placements due to being in the vulnerable category with regards to Covd 19, so new hosts are needed for these guests. and also for 5 peope on the waiting list. Sanctuary Hosting is increasing the weekly stipend to their guests who are destitute to £30 weekly to cover higher food prices. So if anyone could help by donating £10 per month that would be tremendously helpful.

Refugees in the UK will have smaller local networks and may not be sure who they can go to for support during the Covid19 pandemic. Many will be feeling very isolated and far from home. It is more important than it ever has been for churches to reach out to refugees and asylum seekers in their communities. Welcome Churches are producing new resources regularly to help churches do this: welcomechurches.org/covid19. Please give to help them develop more ways of supporting refugees across the UK during this time at welcomechurches.org/donate. Thank you.

Wycombe Refugee Partnership just welcomed their 21st refugee family to Mellor House and are putting the father of their 22nd family into temporary accommodation while he waits for his family to be allowed to join him. WRP were delighted that people quickly volunteered to shop for one of their refugee families who are self-isolating due to having a vulnerable child.

Online resources and opportunities


Recent articles have highlighted the particularly difficult situation for refugees as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads – those in refugee camps and rough settlements around the world, refugees in Europe, especially unaccompanied children, and here in UK immigration detention centres.
Many refugees and people with insecure immigration status in the UK are at particular risk, due to lack of or restricted access to healthcare, housing and other services. So JCWI, Migrants Organise and Medact have produced a short Guide for Supporting Migrants During Coronavirus.
The Refugee Council provides daily updated information on Changes to Home Office Asylum & Resettlement policy and practice in response to Covid-19 and further up-to-date information on Coronavirus and the UK immigration system is provided by Free Movement.
On 16th March the Home Office published a Statement of policy in relation to family reunion of unaccompanied children seeking international protection in the EU or the UK. The details are yet to be negotiated, but should mean rights at least equal to now.
As we all become more aware of the importance of staying connected with loved ones when physically distanced, through Phone Credit for Refugees people can donate to top up a refugee’s mobile phone.
Many people are finding it helpful at this time, while it is not possible to meet in person, to connect with others via video conference. This could be a way of keeping in touch with refugee families or other refugee supporters locally. One relatively easy and effective way is using Zoom. This can be used on a laptop, computer, ipad or mobile phone and only the “host” of the conversation needs to create a Zoom account. Here are beginners’ step by step instructions for participants.
Coronavirus and your wellbeing advice from Mind may be useful for yourself and any refugees you support.



Anyone wishing to pray in the current situation may find this Churches Together in England webpage helpful. It gives links to suggested prayers and guidance from a number of different churches.
An additional prayer is below:
Dear Lord,
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues we pray for refugees, asylum seekers and all displaced people. We ask that those in authority would act to improve their living conditions, remembering especially those in refugee camps and sleeping rough. Give government leaders and all in authority wisdom and motivation to do all that is possible to protect these people – and all  people – from illness and suffering. 
We also ask that you will grant wisdom, protection and resilience to staff and volunteers of refugee charities and groups, who are striving to continue to support their clients in the current difficult circumstances.
Help us all not to be afraid, but to continue in times of rapid change to love our neighbours as ourselves, trusting not in our own understanding but in your unchanging love and mercy.

Refugee Support Newsletter – March 2020 (Part 1)

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

In this newsletter

  • CCOW’s new booklet for Oxfordshire churches

  • Other Resources

  • Actions

Because of the current public health situation, we are cancelling the ‘Churches Supporting Refugees’ event on 24th March. We intend to hold it at a future date and will let you know when we are able to reschedule.

The situation is changing very rapidly – this is, therefore, the first part of a two-part email. Next week we will send an update on local groups and how you can continue to support them at this difficult time, as well as introducing new prayers and online opportunities to keep us all connected.

Churches Supporting Refugees – new booklet for Oxfordshire churches

CCOW, in collaboration with partners from a number of local and national refugee chatities, has produced “Supporting Refugees – a guide for Oxfordshire churches”, which has been sent to over 300 churches. Please contact joanna@ccow.org.uk for more copies. We hope it will help churches discern how they can support refugees locally.


Chatterbox is an online language learning service taught by refugee professionals who are native speakers. The University of Reading recently joined with Chatterbox to connect students with refugee coaches.

Sponsor Refugees has produced safeguarding resources for Community Sponsorship groups – useful guides and templates, helpful for anyone working with refugees.

The Missing Migrants Project tracks incidents involving migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, who have died or gone missing in the process of migration towards an international destination. Data from 2014 to 2020, broken down by month, region and is shown in charts.

Redcliffe College, a Christian mission training centre, has a new online Refugee Worker Training course. Over four sessions (minimum 3 hours each) it aims to develop understanding of the refugee experience as well as self-care. Cost £80.

R2C2 Refugee Resource Centre for Churches has produced two Quick Guides – on the asylum seeker in your church and persecuted Christians and new converts with advice on how best to help them. R2C2’s website is also regularly updated with research, reports and briefings from the refugee sector.

Sanctuary Hosting recently reached two significant milestones – since it began in 2015 volunteers in the Thames Valley have now hosted more than 100 guests (refugees and other vulnerable migrants), providing more than 20,000 nights of accommodation. Hear an interview with a volunteer host broadcast on Radio Oxford. Watch the 8-minute film “A Road to Oxford”, produced with the help of Sanctuary Hosting, of Rawan from Syria telling his story. Sanctuary Hosting has made available the short country guides for hosts which it has produced on Albania, Afghanistan, Eritrea and The Gambia (the top four countries from which guests come)– helpful for better understanding people from these countries.

Refugee Support Network (RSN) has put together advice and information for asylum seekers and refugees interested in going to university in the UK, specific to the person’s immigration status. RSN also provides a personal higher education advice service. Those unable to access student loans because of their immigration status may be able to apply for scholarships like the UCL Access Opportunity Scholarship.

Read RSN’s Catherine Gladwell’s article “Accessing and thriving in education in the UK” about the barriers faced by refugee and asylum-seeking children and what the authorities and schools can do to help.

Short article and infographic “15 Facts about asylum-seekers and refugees” for use in myth-busting and addressing negative stereotypes. Also a myth-busting 2-minute video clip “Why do refugees want to come to the UK?” showing the destinations of refugees who cross the Mediterranean.

The British Red Cross has released a new report “The cost of destitution: a cost-benefit analysis of extending the move-on period for new refugees”. It explains why an increase from 28 to 56 days is needed, in the time allowed to transition to mainstream benefits or employment when refugee status is granted.

Bridget Walker of the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network has written a handout on Asylum Seekers and the Militarisation of Borders. Contact walkernind@icloud.com for a copy and/or to talk to her about this. See also Saferworld’s report on this issue.

Migrant Help has been working with Doctors of the World and British Red Cross to put together Coronavirus (Covid 19) advice in a number of languages. So far there is English, Albanian, Dari, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Bengali, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Farsi, with Malayalam, Amharic, Tigrinya and Somali coming soon. Doctors of the World will replace documents with any new advice as updates come in. To be notified of these updates email yciftci@doctorsoftheworld.org.uk with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.


With the ongoing offensive in Idlib province in Syria continuing to force people to flee their homes (almost a million have fled since December alone) continue to call for action to stop the bombing and provide humanitarian assistance, e.g. by signing The Syria Campaign’s petition.

Since Turkey opened its borders at the end of February many are trying to reach Europe, increasing the overcrowding in Greek island refugee camps. Sign the petition to the EU leaders calling for immediate decongestion of the Aegean islands. Support one of the charities providing practical help there and seeking legal routes to sanctuary, e.g. Help Refugees or Safe Passage.

Now added to the problems for those living in overcrowded, unsanitary refugee camps is the likely spread of the corona virus Covid-19. With a confirmed case on Lesbos there are concerns for the refugee camp there, and the refugee population throughout the Middle East is particularly vulnerable. Refugees worldwide risk being further stigmatised by this situation and host countries need help. Pray for wisdom for those in authority and support UNHCR’s Covid-19 appeal.

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