This PowerPoint presentation gives a summary of Pope Francis’s challenge and the response from our Bishops’ Conference. It then lists some of the terms for clarification and identifies five different groups of people, with initial suggestions for how we might respond to the needs of each group. Archbishop Malcolm has expressed his support for these initial plans. The table near the end of the PowerPoint tries to map out the different kinds of assistance that may be needed by any refugees who are brought to the UK and could provide a useful basis for local conversations and planning.
The situation is complex and we are just beginning to plan a coordinated response, especially to the newly-raised possibility of pledging to support the second group – comprising people additional to the 20,000 in the fully-funded Government scheme who may be allowed in under ‘private sponsorship’ i.e. if a group or organisation guarantees the funding needed. But we are heartened by the numbers of people who have contacted the Archdiocese eager to offer time, talents and resources.
Although it may be many months before the first new refugees are brought to the UK from the camps in and around Syria under the Government’s scheme, we can get help now through CSAN (Catholic Social Action Network) to the people who are in the camps in Europe.
There are also a large number of asylum seekers already in our Archdiocese who at various stages of the process can be left without entitlement to housing or benefits, and the organisations helping them – like Asylum Link Merseyside, the Hope Plus foodbank run by the two Cathedrals, SWAP in Wigan and LASAR in Leigh – need our support.
We expect to work with housing associations, local authorities, foodbanks, voluntary organisations, other churches and other faith communities to plan local responses.
Please keep sending in reports of resources discovered and plans made to : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve is willing to attend Pastoral Area meetings whenever possible and will circulate further information as the situation develops.