- Direct support: Your parish is, of course, very welcome to make direct payments to the Rural Refugee Network, Hope into Action, Welcome Trust and the British Red Cross. Many national organisations are also raising funds, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid.
- Donations of goods: Your congregations may wish to collect specific household items that will help those people who are offered accommodation in Hampshire. Community First in Hampshire are asking for donations including nappies, coats, clothing, underwear, blankets, adults shoes, mobile phone chargers and new or refurbished laptops to help families keep in touch with loved ones. More details are here.
- Foster carers: those children who are unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers may need carers to foster them. If you are in a position to help, do contact your local authority foster team, in Hampshire or Dorset.
- Become informed: these issues are complex, and there is often understandable confusion, even in our church congregations, about why and how support is given to those who arrive in the UK from other countries. Use the material in the Church of England toolkit to share key facts and theological reasons for being involved, check out the government website and the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary website for information. Do consider whether your congregation can campaign on these issues, using some of the resources available.
- Pray: you will, of course, already have been praying for the situation in Afghanistan, and for the safety of all those at risk. Do continue to use the prayer resources available from organisations such as Christian Aid, Open Doors and the Church of England in your worship services, prayer meetings and private devotions.
Help for Afghan Refugees
Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Asylum seekers and refugees are amongst the most marginalised and unfairly vilified people in our society. They are sometimes confused with people who are economic migrants but they are not the same.
Everyone has the right to claim asylum in another country. They may be fleeing conflict or political oppression. While their application is being heard, they may be given some basic accommodation. If their application is successful, they become a refugee. If their application is denied, they may lose their accommodation, and will be unable to work or claim benefits, even if they are appealing against the decision.
There are a number of local and national organisations dealing with refugees and asylum seekers, such as:
British Red Cross
If you are a refugee, asylum seeker or vulnerable migrant in Portsmouth, the British Red Cross may be able to help you, including international assistance to find lost family members. Visit their website, the drop-in at All Saints Church, Commercial Road, PO1 4BT, or call 023 9289 4215. You will be given a dignified welcome and practical support.
Rural Refugee Network
The Rural Refugee Network was created by churchgoers and others in Hampshire to respond to the need to find private homes for refugees from Syria. The government had committed the UK to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement programme. This charity not only provided homes, but also a friendly welcome, some furniture and English lessons for these families.
As the disaster in Afghanistan unfolds, hundreds of Afghans and their families are being evacuated to the U.K. and are in need of assistance.
The Welcome Churches Emergency Afghan Fund is calling for donations to help offer local support to the new arrivals. Donate here.
You may also be interested in supporting some local organisations that can specifically help Afghan refugees and asylum seekers who settle in this area. Here’s a list of ways in which you can do so: