HELPING THE REFUGEES
The following is excerpts from a letter from Caritas Westminster concerning the refugee crisis:
Following the announcement that the UK will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, at Caritas Westminster we are coordinating assistance for refugees in line with Cardinal Vincent and Archbishop Peter Smith’s pledge to work with the government. Although the government is developing a framework for supporting the arrival of Syrian refugees, as a Church we need to be prepared to welcome vulnerable and newly arrived people into our communities in the form of practical support for refugees.
On Sunday 6 September, Pope Francis appealed to Catholic communities to reach out to individuals affected by the refugee crisis, saying ‘May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family’. We are responding to this appeal by preparing ourselves to work in partnership with local authorities on the provision of accommodation as appropriate. We are also meeting with Catholic, Christian and faith organisations, including CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) and the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, to establish a strategy for working with refugees to ensure that they receive the help and support that they need.
Your parish can join us in offering this support. When refugees arrive in the UK, they will not only need accommodation, but a range of other services to help them to adjust to life in the UK, and to recover from the traumas of the Syrian war. The Catholic community in the Diocese of Westminster has the generosity, skills and dedication to help contribute to the services that will be needed. These services will include, but are not limited to:
Help with languages, including interpreting and ESOL (English as a Second Language teaching)
Basic necessities, such as clothing, shoes, toiletries, food parcels, toys etc.
We rely on the generosity of Catholic communities to be able to carry out our work with refugees and other vulnerable people in the Diocese of Westminster.
A number of parishioners have already asked: what is the parish doing? While others have offered to help in a variety of ways, and it’s good to hear such concern expressed and the readiness to be of assistance. This is a situation which, in many ways, is still developing and changing, and which we hope we can play our part in. The Pastoral Council have already had a discussion, and will be meeting in two weeks to take matters forward.