Baptists join Refugee Welcome Board
As the refugee crisis deepens, Baptist involvement continues to grow
A National Refugee Welcome Board has now been launched (15/9), which will provide practical support to help councils and communities to resettle people who arrive in Britain fleeing war and violence, as well as finding them accommodation.
Several days earlier (11/9) the Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of our Baptist Union, had issued a statement calling for the creation of such a board to enable a co-ordinated response to the refugee crisis.
Because of this support and involvement, Baptists have been invited to join. Regional Minister the Revd Phil Jump, currently a member of the Joint Public Issues Team, will attend its first meeting in October.
The Refugee Welcome Board has been formed by the campaigning groups Citizens UK and 38 Degrees.
It will 'make sure Britain doesn’t miss any opportunities to help', said 38 Degrees on its website, by coordinating refugee families with empty buildings, finding school places for children, and connecting volunteers with foster and adoption agencies for orphan children.
‘If we work together, we can make sure refugees are welcomed into the UK with dignity,’ it added.
Baptist are encouraged to ask their local councils to link with the Refugee Welcome Board. There have been similar co-ordinated responses in previous refugee crises, such as the displacement of Ugandan Asians and the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s.
Elsewhere all the Baptists who have offered spaces to Syrian refugees have been encouraged to work with the Positive Action in Housing Ltd agency, which has a refugee hosting scheme. More than 300 spaces have been offered following a grassroots campaign.
If your church could offer to take someone in temporarily or for an extended period and want to find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit the Take Refuge Facebook group for more information and updates.
Currently the Government has insisted that spare rooms will not be used in housing the 20,000 Syrian refugees it has pledged to take in by 2020, but it is not known whether that policy would change if the crisis deepens further. Moreover the policy doesn't reflect the goodwill of the many British people who want to help.
The European Baptist Federation Council meeting takes place in Bulgaria this week, and on Thursday afternoon there is a session dedicated to the refugee crisis. Members will be sharing experiences and stories of the crisis, which will determine what the EBF focus should be in offering help. Lynn Green will also talk about the British Baptist response to the crisis.
There is also a summit of European Union leaders this week in Brussels dedicated to the refugee emergency.