There is a continuing immediate and serious need for Christians to respond to the refugee crisis.
We know that churches across the Diocese of Chester are already responding generously and compassionately, particularly to the situation in Ukraine, and that each and every person's situation and capacity to help will be different.
For those who are considering how they can help, here is some guidance and links to resources and support. It is divided into three sorts of responses:
Separate and specific guidance for clergy living in clergy housing and wanting to offer lodging to refugees has been created and can be accessed via the documents further down this page.
Though the circumstances and opportunities to help are not identical, it is important to remember that there are in the UK a large number of refugees and asylum seekers from different war-torn parts of the world, and others looking to come.
Sponsoring (Click to expand)Hosting an individual or a family from Ukraine
As of 08 April, 10,800 Ukrainians had arrived in the UK under the Ukraine family scheme, and 1,200 under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme. About 79,800 applications had been received under the two schemes, and 40,900 visas had been granted.
Most of those in our churches will be looking to the latter scheme, under which a named UK host can offer to sponsor a named Ukrainian family or individual. They apply through the government website: the process is described here, with FAQ’s here.
The government is requiring sponsors to offer at least six months accommodation, and charities already involved in such schemes are urging potential sponsors to be realistic about the offer that they can make. Helpful guidance can be found at City of Sanctuary and Vita Network.
One of the particular challenges for those wanting to host a family is the requirement to support a named family. The government says that potential hosts may wish to make contact with a particular family through charities, faith groups or local community organisations. RESET has been identified by the government as an agency that will match refugees and hosts. They also provide a helpful Homes for Ukraine toolkit and some useful links. Others are looking for find matches through Sanctuary Foundation.
Supporting (Click to expand)Those who don’t feel that sponsorship is for them can be a huge help to refugees in other ways.
Community Sponsorship is a way for refugees, sometimes larger groups of refugees, to be welcomed by a community. RESET are again in the forefront of this but look also at UK Welcomes Refugees.
Connect with the local City of Sanctuary Group.
You might also consider if you could offer support in : transport, Benefits advice, Job advice, telephones and communication, connecting with schools and GP’s, translation and language. Your skills might be best used in connection with community groups in your area.
RESET’s useful links includes links to organisations helping with immigration, travel, health and well-being, employment, and connection to Ukrainian groups in the UK. Local authorities help to connect people concerned to support refugees, for example Cheshire West and Chester encourage people to become Community Champions. There is also information from Cheshire East and Wirral and other local authorities.
Welcoming (Click to expand)Particular advice and resources for churches looking to make their life and activities accessible to refugees.
Many will want to offer a welcome to refugees, as part of their local church. A few small changes can enable a church to open its normal communal life to those from other cultures.
Ukraine Welcome has lots of advice, including information in Ukrainian and Russian for those looking for help. They suggest providing welcome boxes, as practical help and as a way to build supportive relationships.
Clergy wanting to host a Ukraine family
Many clergy have contacted Church House asking whether they can host a family. Separate and specific guidance for clergy living in clergy housing and wanting to offer lodging to refugees has been created and can be accessed via the documents below.