Refugee Week: Support Refugee Welcome
17th Jun 2019
This Refugee week, Fr Gareth Jones calls on our parishes to support a Refugee Welcome project in their local community.
Refugee Week (17-23 June 2019) is a time when, as a nation, we are encouraged to think about and engage with the plight of refugees throughout the world. It also marks a week of celebrating good news stories about refugees who have successfully resettled in the UK.
In the diocese of Chelmsford refugee engagement is a key and integral part of Transforming Presence – our four strategic priorities. In 2018, we launched our first Community Sponsorship project, Refugee welcome, at St Mary’s, Ilford, and in March this year welcomed a family of five from Syria to Dagenham.
Our Diocesan Refugee Agency, Essex Integration, working together with Essex County Council have, so far, successfully resettled over 150 refugees via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and that work continues with more refugees expected this year.
At the start of Refugee Week, the Home Office announced that Community Sponsorship will continue beyond 2020, and that a new global resettlement scheme to welcome the world’s most vulnerable people will seek to resettle 5000 refugees from 2020 -2021.
The diocese of Chelmsford, through the work of our Refugee Ministry team, will continue to roll our Community Sponsorship across East London and Essex. The aim is to have at least one community sponsorship project in each archdeaconry.
Welcoming the news from the Home Office, The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said:
From 2020 refugees resettled through community sponsorship will be in addition to the government’s commitment. I call on faith leaders and communities to make the most of this opportunity to change the lives of more refugees and transform communities in the process.”
Fr Gareth Jones, Refugee Coordinator for the diocese of Chelmsford, commented:
“At the beginning of this Refugee Week and in the renewed confidence of the announcement from the Home Office, I call once again on parishes and their partners in our diocese to consider the great plight of refugees in our midst in the light of Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger and oppressed; and in considering that plight, to commit to walking alongside a refugee family from Syria through our diocesan Community Sponsorship Scheme, Refugee Welcome.”
The Revd Alex Guest, Assistant Diocesan Refugee Coordinator added:
“When Jesus got on a boat to “go to the other side” the miracle of the calming of a storm becomes not only a miracle of nature, but also a declaration of peace at the border between the privileged and the deprived. Refugee ministry is something of the same – stepping out on a boat where the conditions are unpredictable, where divisions are needlessly being fed, and speaking peace and love into the fear.”
Refugee Welcome, Dagenham was launched in 2018. The project is now modelling Community Sponsorship in the Diocese of Chelmsford.
Fr Gareth Jones, Refugee Coordinator for the Diocese of Chelmsford, spoke at Diocesan Synod in November 2018 about Refugee Ministry and Community Sponsorship opportunities in the diocese – watch the video.
Fr Gareth would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be interested in supporting a Refugee Welcome Project in their local area:
Telephone: 020 8478 0546
L-R: The Revd Alex Guest, Fr Gareth Jones, Emma Gwynne, Bethan Lang, Niamh Balkan, Rafe Smallman and Clare Cox from Refugee Welcome Dagenham.