Responding with PEACE
Prayer must be the foundation of Christian efforts to support refugees. Prayer can come in different shapes and sizes, shared or personal, spoken or silent. If you are looking for some existing words, a number of Christian groups have offered prayers relating to the crisis:
Welcoming and loving the stranger as oneself is a key Christian message, and it is important that those responding to events are able to develop an understanding of the facts and history behind the present situation, resisting sensationalism and misinformation. Ensure those around you are equipped to make informed responses to relevant concerns and questions raised by the community. Resources listed here may help you to do so:
- The Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops' Council have published updated information on how parishes and dioceses can help the programme to resettle the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in the UK.
- The Diocesan Board of Education have created some resources for schools and churches to use to generate discussion and prayer.
- The Refugee Council have compiled a list of facts and figures about asylum.
- The United Nation's Refugee Agency is a source for statistics, information, and stories about the refugee crisis.
- VIDEO: 'The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained' by In a Nutshell - Kurzgesagt.
- SAFEGUARDING: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Briefing Note Sept 15 from the national Church
- E>Brief - Surrey County Council Adult Social Care news: 'Surrey working together on Syrian refugee arrangements.' Answers many of the FAQs about the practicalities involved in the resettlement of refugees.
Christians are called to demonstrate love and compassion towards others. A number of reputable charities are working on the ground to provide humanitarian relief for refugees, and others ask for donations of food and supplies. Some organisations are also collating databases of those interested in housing refugees.
Organisations collecting financial donations:
- Christian Aid - Working with churches/other agencies to support humanitarian efforts in Europe and the Middle East.
- Tearfund - Partnering with church groups to provide aid to refugees in Europe and the Middle East.
- Save the Children - Working across Europe and the Middle East to support child refugees.
- Refugee Council - Supporting refugees arriving in the UK.
- U.S. - Funding the Diocese in Europe to support refugees arriving in the continent.
- All We Can - A Methodist organisation working with the refugee camps in Jordan.
Organisations where clothing & supplies may be donated:
- CalAid - Providing a humanitarian response to refugees in Calais. See their website for more information on future collections. Please check their list of supplies needed.
- Guildford: People to People - Coordinating donations locally for CalAid.
- Farnham Help for Refugees - Collecting donations locally for refugees overseas and in the UK
Check the websites for current collections.
Organisations facilitating the housing of refugees include:
- Home for Good - Compiling a database of people able to foster unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
- east to west - Compiling a database of people able to foster unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
- Positive Action in Housing - Allow you to specify whom you are willing to house, e.g. someone of the same gender, and for how long.
If you are a landlord for social housing, please contact Diane Peters.
Taking political action, such as signing a petition, writing to your MP, or involvement with an activist initiative, can send a firm message that change is needed. While lobbying and campaigning is important, we must also be careful to take a supportive and positive approach with all those in difficult positions of power:
- Open petitions to the government (includes a petition to increase numbers of refugees)
- Write to your local MP to make them aware of what your local position is. What can be done where you are? A template can be found to the left of this column.
- Email your local MP to request that the Prime Minister urgently amends the immigration rules to help more refugees to be reunited with family members in the UK.
The Bishop of Guildford has called for all parishes to engage positively with the refugee crisis. Think about doing this creatively in a way that can guide and educate communities to open their hearts and minds to those fleeing from conflict, and actively respond to the complex situation that ensues. The following articles and reflections may be of interest, and can be shared via websites and social media: