Welcoming Afghan Refugees
Over the last eighteen months we have learnt, as a charity, more about supporting our local Advocates who are on the front line as they seek to serve those affected by a national crisis.
Currently one of the most pressing needs felt by some of our partners, and the local church, is the arrival of thousands of Afghan refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK. As our friends at Welcome Churches have said: "Many have arrived without adequate clothing or basic possessions such as pushchairs or mobile phones. They have been separated from their extended family, many of whom are still in Afghanistan. Of those who have been relocated here, many are large families (often with up to six children) and are being housed in temporary accommodation with families split into different rooms and no place to cook or prepare food. The UK Government has today announced that it will resettle a further 20,000 Afghan refugees with 5000 resettled in the first year." (https://welcomechurches.org/updates/emergency-afghan-fund/)
As a charity we are currently looking at how we can be the best resource for local churches and charities who are working on the ground with Afghan refugees, and have been in conversation with our local partners, and other organisations, who are seeking to help those in this desperate situation.
One of the first towns in the country to receive a group of refugees was Scarborough, and our partner charity there (The Rainbow Centre) have been helping those arriving with immediate needs such as clothing and baby items. These items have been sourced secondhand from local donors, and the centre has worked hard to distribute these items. Therefore, there hasn't yet been a wide need for Acts 435 partners, such as those in Scarborough, to seek help from Acts 435 just yet.
However, when the first refugees began to arrive I spoke to Claire Daniels, the Hub Manager, who said: "Scarborough will be a transitional place (there are no jobs or homes here) for a few months and then they will move on to somewhere more permanent and we will get a new group arrive. It’s then that we may need more help [from Acts 435] because the initial outburst of [local] support will fade."
I have also been speaking to Emily Holden, joint CEO of Welcome Churches, about their response to this unfolding situation. They have created a coalition of charities and churches (https://afghanwelcome.org/) who are willing to step up and help in this situation. They are hoping to mobilise more local churches to become Welcome Churches - churches who are able to offer support and help where needed. These churches will be even more crucial when Afghans begin to be moved into permanent accommodation, as they will have many essential needs; and we hope, as a charity, that we can be of help in these situations.
As a charity we would hope to be able to offer our online resource to as many Welcome Churches as possible, as well as help those who are currently partnered with us, to reach out and help refugees in their local area. We hope that, in time, we will be able to resource churches to provide specific items such as furniture and white goods but also other items to help Afghan refugees to establish a new life for themselves here in the UK.
If you would like to find out more about how the church is being equipped to support those seeking refuge from Afghanistan, and how you can get involved, please take a look at the Afghan Welcome website: https://afghanwelcome.org/