Church calls on clergy to open their doors to refugees
Capital Mass has called on clergy working across the Diocese of London to open their doors to homeless refugees and destitute migrants.
Working in partnership with Housing Justice, Capital Mass has launched a new campaign to encourage clergy to host migrants and refugees who are destitute and without opportunities whilst their immigration or asylum case is being addressed by the Home Office.
Under this new initiative, a guest in need of accommodation is referred to Housing Justice by the agency working on their immigration case. Housing Justice will then contact those clergy who have registered as potential hosts and arrange a meeting to ensure that any new housing arrangement is a good match and will work well for both parties.
On Monday 16 January, Capital Mass will be holding a Hosting Information Evening at St James’ Church, Piccadilly which will provide a great opportunity for clergy interested in hosting to learn more about how to get involved, along with the important role it plays in helping to stabilise the lives of those in need of shelter.
The Ven John Hawkins, Archdeacon of Hampstead, said:
“As the humanitarian disaster that is the refugee crisis deepens, hosting by clergy provides an invaluable opportunity to provide shelter to those asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who are left destitute and homeless by the immigration rules, and also provide much-needed support to those agencies working to stabilise their situation. As clergy, we are gifted with accommodation by the Church to help support us in our work and as we approach Christmas it is only right that we remember the message of the nativity and open up our doors to those in desperate need of shelter and support.”
Father Jack Noble of St Martin’s Church, Ruislip has been hosting since December last year. His guest was previously in the care of Kids Company. But following the charity’s collapse his guest, who was originally from the Caribbean and without the support of family, found himself in need of new accommodation whilst his immigration case is considered by the Government.
The guest now lives with Father Jack, who has spoken positively of the experience, saying:
“When I first decided to host there was some anxiety about how it would impact my home life or work at St Martin’s. However, despite earlier concerns the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, not to mention incredibly rewarding. Living with others and showing hospitality is at the heart of the Christian vocation and if given the opportunity I would certainly host again.”
Capital Mass was founded in 2014 as a joint venture between the Diocese of London and the Church Urban Fund with a mission to tackle poverty and inequality by mobilising all parishes across London in order to increase the church’s level of engagement and the impact of its work. Capital Mass is also responsible for leading the Diocese-wide response to the ongoing refugee crisis which, in addition to encouraging clergy to host, also includes helping to build partnerships with local government and other agencies, and helping to change perceptions of refugees and migrants in need, in order to encourage a meaningful and compassionate response.
The launch of this new hosting initiative coincides with the recent launch of #LondonUnited last week, a new social media campaign supported by the London Church Leaders that encourages clergy and congregations to showcase their community work, particularly in response to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and destitute migrants, and to challenge the rise in racial tensions that have accompanied the recent vote to leave the European Union. Throughout the run-up to Christmas, churches will be sharing their stories of community cohesion in London, using the hashtag #LondonUnited on social media.