A Vincentian view of plight of refugees in the UK

by | Oct 10, 2015 | News | 1 comment

Vincent see as Christ doesDee Mansi. Chair, Vincentians in Partnership  & AIC UK President offers the following Vincentian view of plight of refugees in the UK. After an initial few paragraphs contextualizing the current situation against the times of Vincent, Dee offers a moving interim description of events as they occur.

Could St Vincent have imagined as he gazed across the Mediterranean from the galley ships in Marseille, France, that the inhumane conditions he ministered to alleviate on its shores would prevail nearly 400 years later. Surely, with his positive Providential beliefs, he believed the world would become fairer and more respectful of human life.

[Visit EXPLORING VINCENT DE PAUL’S MEDITERRANEAN: WESTERN EUROPE AND THE BARBARY COAST, 1580-1760 – A joint exhibit from the DePaul University Special Collections and Archives & The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Professors]

His experience of abusive Barbary pirates capturing people was a world of plunder rather than exploitation of fleeing refugees – but the emotions engendered by the victims and our unwitting witness of this human misery resounds today.

This same Middle Sea – Mediterranean – in the middle lands of three continents; Europe, Africa and Asia has been the scene of numbing tragedy over the past few years. Were we becoming inured to the almost daily drownings – well almost – until little Aylan Kurdi’s 3 year old body was pictured washed up on Bodrum beach.

Suddenly, the inertia we had experienced here in the UK and elsewhere disappeared and politicians clambered over each other, in indecent haste, to condemn the reason why the Kurdi family felt safer in an insecure rubber dinghy than in their native Kobane, Syria. The response, country by country, as these refugees and migrants have passed through has been mixed and continues to be puzzling and frightening for residents of the receiving countries.

Since September 2014, the UK Vincentian Family – Vincentians in Partnership (VIP) – has worked to encourage the UK Government to increase the Syrian refugees promised entry through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS) from a paltry 750 to at least 1500. Until recent weeks, we had been working quietly but without much success. The presentation on 11th March of a letter from the Barnet Vincentian Family (suburb of London) was ignored – then Aylan’s little body sparked a tsunami of reaction.

The Dioceses of the UK responded to the Pope’s call for a one parish – one refugee family policy to emerge – sounded manageable. However, the civil action groups, basing their evidence on the Canadian model of re-settlement recommend a minimum of 5 families in each area so they can become self supporting. So, how are we going about it?

John, it is at this stage, because the scene shifts daily, that I have to send you the following wall of words! If you would like to edit severely, please do so. I completely understand. When more info comes out, I will write.

Yours in Vincent and Louise,
Dee Mansi.
Chair, Vincentians in Partnership
& AIC UK President

I am in a position now to summarise where the UK Vincentian Family stands, (Vincentians in Partnership = VIP) following the meeting I attended called on 15.9.2015 by Cardinal Vincent Nichols regarding the refugee crisis.
BACKGROUND

At last year’s VIP AGM we agreed to collaborate with Citizens UK to campaign for a doubling of refugees allowed to resettle in the UK, from 750 to 1500 per year. We had modest success in this, with 8 local authorities agreeing to take 50 each, but events have clearly overtaken us. You will be aware that the Government has now committed to taking in 20,000 refugees during the course of the next 5 years as the refugee crisis continues to spiral almost beyond imagination.

Citizens UK members, which includes London Citizens, supported by VIP, have been lobbying local authority leaders to sign up and offer to resettle refugees in their area. They took their call to the Houses of Parliament to increase the number of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees identified by the UN to be resettled in the UK, and VIP joined the action.

VIP, led a group of people from Citizens UK, for a second time, to meet with James Brokenshire MP, the Minister for Immigration, again to press the case for increasing the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the UK. It was a positive meeting and members felt that they had been heeded.

VIP is flying with two wings: Citizens UK and CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network). VIP is already involved with Caritas Westminster in drawing up plans to respond to the arrival of refugees in the UK. They want to pool their collective knowledge, expertise and resources to ensure a safe and supportive environment for victims of conflict.

The first meeting on Tuesday 15th September, for example, included VIP, SVP and The Passage, all offering their knowledge and skills. They discussed (i) The existing refugee crisis; (ii) Syrian/Middle East Refugees; (iii) Children; (iv) Calais; (v) Response of the Westminster Archdiocese. It is hoped that all diocese will organise similar meetings.

BARNET – NORTH LONDON CITIZENS (CITIZENS UK)

The main Barnet thrust for settling Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Settlement Scheme has been organised from the Jewish Progressive Synagogue in Hutton Grove, Finchley. They have many members who are descendants of Kindertransport children brought here during WW2. They were very quick to respond to local action regarding the Syrian refugees’ needs. Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, supported by Charlotte Fischer, Citizens UK North London Organiser has included local action groups including the Bravanese Somali community, Middlesex University, some local Syrians and the Barnet Vincentian Family.

Initially Barnet Council did not respond to any overtures about the refugee crisis. For example, VIP representatives presented a letter to the Town Hall on 11th March 2015. We were greeted by a resounding silence – no acknowledgement, electronically or otherwise.

27th September 2015 – SEE ADDENDUM 1

Pope Francis has appealed to Catholic parishes to welcome and give practical support to refugees. Cardinal Nichols has spoken about it on the national media. Calling for “moral imagination”, the Cardinal and Archbishop Peter Smith indicate 4 ways to support refugees: prayer, financial support, time and professional skills, and accommodation. Every bishop has been asked to set up a point of contact in his diocese to coordinate parish activity and liaise with local authorities; alternatively, they should identify a local authority contact and encourage parishes to liaise with that person directly. For example, Cardinal Nichols has engaged ‘Caritas Westminster’ to coordinate his diocesan response.

However Caritas Director, John Coleby, spoke at the SVP meeting on 3rd October, and he is clear that apart from some financial support should local Churches or Deaneries have a specific project, that Caritas does not have the human resources to activate the individual responses. So it will be up to us, in Barnet, to collaborate within each church, or to my mind, collectively as a Deanery because the Government will negotiate with the Local Authority.

All Catholic Deaneries, to my knowledge are, like Barnet, coterminous with the Local Authority and will be best placed to offer a united Catholic response, in collaboration with civil society partners

Why do I suggest this if Pope Francis suggests “a refugee family per parish”? According to the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Louise Vanre, the Canadian model of settling 5 families within reasonable close proximity, is seen internationally as a strong model because of the Canadians success in ensuring physical, moral, cultural and religious support for vulnerable newly arrived refugees.

Things to consider: Do I have a free room in my house or a property that could be used to accommodate refugees? Can we make religious premises available? Can we support the education of refugees? Persuade schools or universities to fund the education of a number of refugees? Would I be able to volunteer to help refugees? Perhaps groups of 4 people to give support to each refugee? Do I have professional skills I could use to help arriving refugees to integrate into their new community? Could I donate items to, say, Save The Children shops where the money raised would be used to help refugees? Could I apply to foster a child or receive training to do so?
Citizens UK tell us this week: “Things have moved extremely fast over the past ten days. Our campaign has grown from 15 boroughs working on this to 620 local campaigns. We’ve had 500 landlords offer their properties nationally since we issued the call one week ago, and have raised £200,000 to help build a National Refugees Welcome Board which we hope will be able to help coordinate the civil society response…” I understand that Bishop Patrick Lynch has been invited to sit on the resettlement Board.

VIP, working with Citizens UK in Barnet, North London, found that housing is the problem for their local authority and are searching for landlords. So far they have organised 4 schools and 6 doctors surgeries that have agreed to take people – but only one landlord.

VIP Scotland: At Govanhill in Glasgow, Scotland, the Daughters of Charity run “The Space”, supported by SSVP Scotland and the AIC (International Assoc of Charities) and they are currently almost overwhelmed by the hundreds of Roma migrants seeking their help. With respect to refugees, Scotland’s First Minister has asked all local authorities how many they could resettle, and The Space is awaiting the outcome of this consultation in South Glasgow, but they are ready.

CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the official agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales for domestic social action. It has a membership of 41 charities with a substantial Vincentian presence, including VIP, SVP, The Passage and Depaul UK. It has produced a simple mapping form which will prove very useful in designing the Church’s collective response. The information will identify what is happening now, what skills and capacity there is in the Network, and what transferable skills might be brought to bear on this situation.

Introducing this document, CSAN’s CEO, Helen O’Brien, wrote to the Directors of its member charities: “There have been many offers of help to most of us I imagine, and also requests to know what the Church is doing at this time. Whilst knowing that this situation in fact is long-term, with a long history and sadly a long future, this does seem to be a moment where we might be able to effect a step change in how we can respond, work together and influence public opinion.”

6th October. Charlotte Fischer (Citizens UK) and a small representative body, went to meet to meet Barnet’s Head of Strategy and Communications, Stephen Evans. He was very polite but clearly had not got this in his strategy plan and is figuring out what to do now that the Leader has put it there! The great news is that he was clear that now the Leader has committed it will happen and they want it to happen fast. In two weeks they should have a plan of criteria they will have for resettlement.

FUTURE ACTION

13th October 6.30pm outside Parliament to call for 1000 refugees are resettled by Christmas.

20th October at 7pm (we need to be seated by 6.30).  – supporting and thanking Barnet Council as they vote on the motion to join the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS).

END OF NOTES – SEE 2 ADDENDA FOLLOWING.

ADDENDUM 1 – BARNET PRESS RELEASE – 27.9.2015
BARNET COUNCIL AGREES TO RESETTLE 50 SYRIAN REFUGEES AFTER BARNET CITIZENS ORGANISE LANDLORDS, EMPLOYERS, SCHOOLS AND GPs ON ST VINCENT DE PAUL’S FEAST DAY

“Rabbi, the answer is yes”

Barnet Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, organised a ‘Sanctuary Succot in Barnet’ on 27th September – St Vincent de Paul’s feast day – as part of its campaign to persuade Barnet Council to welcome 50 Syrian refugees into the community – resulting in the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius responding “Rabbi, the answer is yes” to Barnet signing up to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

The event, held at Finchley Progressive Synagogue alongside partner organisations including the Somali Bravanese Welfare Union, Vincentians in Partnership and Middlesex University Student Union, was co-chaired by Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk and Sayed Alkadiri, Vice President of Middlesex University Students Union. With 200 attendees from Barnet member communities, the packed hall also included VIPs such as Tim Blackman, Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University, Rabbi Danny Rich, Rabbi Danny Freelander Head of World Union of Progressive Judaism and Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council. The Church of England based Near Neighbours funded the project, andAbahuzamigambi Rwandan dance troupe performed at it.
Barnet Citizens organised 5 doctor’s practices, 2 schools, 3 landlords and work experience and training for the refugees.

Father Mark Connolly highlighted the relevance of St Vincent de Paul when he pointed that “he himself made a perilous journey across the Mediterranean”. All Saints and St Mary’s schools also offered their support and welcome and were thanked by the communities.

Razan Alakraa from Ayesha Community School shared her story: “My fiancée was detained and tortured last year for his work as a doctor helping in field hospitals and getting aid to besieged areas of women and children. He has been a refugee in Lebanon for a year and a half unable to leave and waiting for a new life from the UN resettlement team”. Councillor Cornelius said “London Citizens has a way of pricking my conscience and making me think” before answering he will propose signing up Barnet to the government’s Syrian Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme at the next Council meeting. Barnet Citizens members have pledged to go along and support him in doing so.

Gillian Stern, a Barnet resident and member of FPS said: “As a community we feel it is our duty to help. We found local landlords and property owners to commit to allowing their properties to be used to house refugees, and we’re also organised a warm community welcome with GP and school places and everything from English classes to mum and baby meet ups being offered and arranged.

“This isn’t about an open door immigration policy: these are the most vulnerable people that the UN identifies, sick children, victims of torture and abuse; a refugee camp simply isn’t the right place for these families.”

Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk (Finchley Progressive Synagogue) continued: “We know it’s not easy for a council to say yes, that’s why we needed local people to show their support, find homes and offer a warm welcome. There’s EU funding available to the council. Together we must act now and revive the great British tradition of helping those most in need.”

Over the past year Citizens UK, working in partnership with Avaaz, has already secured commitments from twenty-two councils – including Birmingham, Islington, Kingston, Malvern Hills, Newcastle and Edinburgh – to support 50 refugees, and Glasgow has agreed to support 100 Syrians. Now groups across the country, including Barnet, are calling upon their local authorities to follow their lead and commit to accepting refugees.

Citizens UK has seen an incredible surge in the public appetite to help refugees in response to the recent tragic photos of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee washed ashore in Turkey.  In response, Citizens UK has launched a major national resettlement drive with communities pledging to find 5,000 homes for people seeking sanctuary and to challenge local and national government to step up.
The campaign aims to help resettle 20,000 people nationally over the next two years. Most urgently needed are homes (not spare rooms) for Syrians to rent at local authority housing benefit rates.

Citizens UK is now taking their campaign to a national action on Parliament Square on the 13th October, asking for 1000 people to be resettled before Christmas.
ADDENDUM 2

NORTH LONDON CITIZENS (CITIZENS UK) DRAFT
THE REFUGEE CRISIS: LOCAL WELCOME & RESETTLEMENT
Terms of Reference for Barnet Citizens Refugees Welcome Group
“I have said that we will offer places to 50 Syrian refugees because London Citizens have got themselves organised and they have removed all of the objections I could have come up with – the housing, the doctors, the reception into the community.” – Cllr Cornelius on Sky News
Formation
1. A chair and up to 10 members of Barnet Citizens and strategic partners, representative of our community’s diversity
2. We will invite expert advisors in specific fields to become advisors to the group on their area of interest.
3. The need for the group will be reviewed one year after the last refugee from the SVPRS programme arrives in Barnet
Strategy
4. Build an alliance of anchor civil society institutions prepared to welcome and resettle Syrians in our neighbourhood, with Barnet Council support.
5. Co-ordinate local civil society support to be an effective force for welcoming Syrian refugees
6. Relate to the council’s chosen service provider for resettlement to provide ‘wrap around’ support
7. Ensure that the refugees are able to arrive in a timely manner
8. Be aware of and work to Government policy and practice as it develops.
Practicalities
9. The potential outcomes anticipated are:
* welcome and orientation as the refugees arrive in our area;
* supporting Barnet Council in finding landlords who can offer housing at DSS rates
* signposting and support to accessing public services
* organising therapeutic support (for 6 months- 1 year) for those who need it
* mentoring for social and religious integration
* supporting children into school
* supporting adults into work through our relationships with local employers
* English language support
* organising GPs surgeries who are keen to take on refugees and supporting their registration
* food, clothing and toy provision where needful
* organising private sponsorship if the law changes to support it
Conflicts of interest
10. The Barnet Citizens Refugee Welcome Board is intended to organise the voluntary contributions of civil society organisations. All members and expert advisors to the Board will declare any financial, legal or statutory interests in particular resettlement programmes to the Barnet Citizens organiser who will record them in a Register of Interests.

in the UK. They want to pool their collective knowledge, expertise and resources to ensure a safe and supportive environment for victims of conflict.

The first meeting on Tuesday 15th September, for example, included VIP, SVP and The Passage, all offering their knowledge and skills. They discussed (i) The existing refugee crisis; (ii) Syrian/Middle East Refugees; (iii) Children; (iv) Calais; (v) Response of the Westminster Archdiocese.  It is hoped that all diocese will organise similar meetings.

BARNET – NORTH LONDON CITIZENS (CITIZENS UK)

The main Barnet thrust for settling Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Settlement Scheme has been organised from the Jewish Progressive Synagogue in Hutton Grove, Finchley.  They have many members who are descendants of Kindertransport children brought here during WW2. They were very quick to respond to local action regarding the Syrian refugees’ needs. Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, supported by Charlotte Fischer, Citizens UK North London Organiser has included local action groups including the Bravanese Somali community, Middlesex University, some local Syrians and the Barnet Vincentian Family.

Initially Barnet Council did not respond to any overtures about the refugee crisis. For example,  VIP representatives presented a letter to the Town Hall on 11th March 2015.  We were greeted by a resounding silence – no acknowledgement, electronically or otherwise.    

27th September 2015 – SEE ADDENDUM 1

Pope Francis has appealed to Catholic parishes to welcome and give practical support to refugees. Cardinal Nichols has spoken about it on the national media. Calling for “moral imagination”, the Cardinal and Archbishop Peter Smith indicate 4 ways to support refugees: prayer, financial support, time and professional skills, and accommodation. Every bishop has been asked to set up a point of contact in his diocese to coordinate parish activity and liaise with local authorities; alternatively, they should identify a local authority contact and encourage parishes to liaise with that person directly. For example, Cardinal Nichols has engaged ‘Caritas Westminster’ to coordinate his diocesan response.

However Caritas Director, John Coleby, spoke at the SVP meeting on 3rd October, and he is clear that apart from some financial support should local Churches or Deaneries have a specific project, that Caritas does not have the human resources to activate the individual responses.  So it will be up to us, in Barnet, to collaborate within each church, or to my mind, collectively as a Deanery because the Government will negotiate with the Local Authority.

All Catholic Deaneries, to my knowledge are, like Barnet, coterminous with the Local Authority and will be best placed to offer a united Catholic response, in collaboration with civil society partners

Why do I suggest this if Pope Francis suggests “a refugee family per parish”?   According to the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Louise Vanre, the Canadian model of settling 5 families within reasonable close proximity, is seen internationally as a strong model because of the Canadians success in ensuring physical, moral, cultural and religious support for vulnerable newly arrived refugees.

Things to consider: Do I have a free room in my house or a property that could be used to accommodate refugees? Can we make religious premises available? Can we support the education of refugees? Persuade schools or universities to fund the education of a number of refugees? Would I be able to volunteer to help refugees? Perhaps groups of 4 people to give support to each refugee? Do I have professional skills I could use to help arriving refugees to integrate into their new community? Could I donate items to, say, Save The Children shops where the money raised would be used to help refugees? Could I apply to foster a child or receive training to do so?

Citizens UK tell us this week: “Things have moved extremely fast over the past ten days. Our campaign has grown from 15 boroughs working on this to 620 local campaigns. We’ve had 500 landlords offer their properties nationally since we issued the call one week ago, and have raised £200,000 to help build a National Refugees Welcome Board which we hope will be able to help coordinate the civil society response…” I understand that Bishop Patrick Lynch has been invited to sit on the resettlement Board.

VIP, working with Citizens UK in Barnet, North London, found that housing is the problem for their local authority and are searching for landlords. So far they have organised 4 schools and 6 doctors surgeries that have agreed to take people – but only one landlord.

VIP Scotland: At Govanhill in Glasgow, Scotland, the Daughters of Charity run “The Space”, supported by SSVP Scotland and the AIC (International Assoc of Charities) and they are currently almost overwhelmed by the hundreds of Roma migrants seeking their help. With respect to refugees, Scotland’s First Minister has asked all local authorities how many they could resettle, and The Space is awaiting the outcome of this consultation in South Glasgow, but they are ready.

CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the official agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales for domestic social action. It has a membership of 41 charities with a substantial Vincentian presence, including VIP, SVP, The Passage and Depaul UK. It has produced a simple mapping form which will prove very useful in designing the Church’s collective response. The information will identify what is happening now, what skills and capacity there is in the Network, and what transferable skills might be brought to bear on this situation.

Introducing this document, CSAN’s CEO, Helen O’Brien, wrote to the Directors of its member charities: “There have been many offers of help to most of us I imagine, and also requests to know what the Church is doing at this time. Whilst knowing that this situation in fact is long-term, with a long history and sadly a long future, this does seem to be a moment where we might be able to effect a step change in how we can respond, work together and influence public opinion.”

6th October.    Charlotte Fischer (Citizens UK) and a small representative body, went to meet to meet Barnet’s Head of Strategy and Communications, Stephen Evans. He was very polite but clearly had not got this in his strategy plan and is figuring out what to do now that the Leader has put it there! The great news is that he was clear that now the Leader has committed it will happen and they want it to happen fast. In two weeks they should have a plan of criteria they will have for resettlement.

FUTURE ACTION

13th October 6.30pm outside Parliament to call for 1000 refugees are resettled by Christmas.

20th October at 7pm (we need to be seated by 6.30).  – supporting and thanking Barnet Council as they vote on the motion to join the  Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS).

END OF NOTES – SEE 2 ADDENDA FOLLOWING.

ADDENDUM 1 – BARNET PRESS RELEASE – 27.9.2015

BARNET COUNCIL AGREES TO RESETTLE 50 SYRIAN REFUGEES AFTER BARNET CITIZENS ORGANISE LANDLORDS, EMPLOYERS, SCHOOLS AND GPs ON ST VINCENT DE PAUL’S FEAST DAY

 “Rabbi, the answer is yes”

Barnet Citizens, part of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, organised a ‘Sanctuary Succot in Barnet’ on 27th September – St Vincent de Paul’s feast day – as part of its campaign to persuade Barnet Council to welcome 50 Syrian refugees into the community – resulting in the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius responding “Rabbi, the answer is yes” to Barnet signing up to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

The event, held at Finchley Progressive Synagogue alongside partner organisations including the Somali Bravanese Welfare Union, Vincentians in Partnership and Middlesex University Student Union, was co-chaired by Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk and Sayed Alkadiri, Vice President of Middlesex University Students Union. With 200 attendees from Barnet member communities, the packed hall also included VIPs such as Tim Blackman, Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University, Rabbi Danny Rich, Rabbi Danny Freelander Head of World Union of Progressive Judaism and Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council. The Church of England based Near Neighbours funded the project, andAbahuzamigambi Rwandan dance troupe performed at it.

Barnet Citizens organised 5 doctor’s practices, 2 schools, 3 landlords and work experience and training for the refugees.

Father Mark Connolly highlighted the relevance of St Vincent de Paul when he pointed that “he himself made a perilous journey across the Mediterranean”. All Saints and St Mary’s schools also offered their support and welcome and were thanked by the communities.

Razan Alakraa from Ayesha Community School shared her story: “My fiancée was detained and tortured last year for his work as a doctor helping in field hospitals and getting aid to besieged areas of women and children. He has been a refugee in Lebanon for a year and a half unable to leave and waiting for a new life from the UN resettlement team”. Councillor Cornelius said “London Citizens has a way of pricking my conscience and making me think” before answering he will propose signing up Barnet to the government’s Syrian Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme at the next Council meeting. Barnet Citizens members have pledged to go along and support him in doing so.

Gillian Stern, a Barnet resident and member of FPS said: “As a community we feel it is our duty to help. We found local landlords and property owners to commit to allowing their properties to be used to house refugees, and we’re also organised a warm community welcome with GP and school places and everything from English classes to mum and baby meet ups being offered and arranged.

“This isn’t about an open door immigration policy: these are the most vulnerable people that the UN identifies, sick children, victims of torture and abuse; a refugee camp simply isn’t the right place for these families.”

Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk (Finchley Progressive Synagogue) continued: “We know it’s not easy for a council to say yes, that’s why we needed local people to show their support, find homes and offer a warm welcome. There’s EU funding available to the council. Together we must act now and revive the great British tradition of helping those most in need.”

Over the past year Citizens UK, working in partnership with Avaaz, has already secured commitments from twenty-two councils – including Birmingham, Islington, Kingston, Malvern Hills, Newcastle and Edinburgh – to support 50 refugees, and Glasgow has agreed to support 100 Syrians. Now groups across the country, including Barnet, are calling upon their local authorities to follow their lead and commit to accepting refugees.

Citizens UK has seen an incredible surge in the public appetite to help refugees in response to the recent tragic photos of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee washed ashore in Turkey.  In response, Citizens UK has launched a major national resettlement drive with communities pledging to find 5,000 homes for people seeking sanctuary and to challenge local and national government to step up.

The campaign aims to help resettle 20,000 people nationally over the next two years. Most urgently needed are homes (not spare rooms) for Syrians to rent at local authority housing benefit rates.

Citizens UK is now taking their campaign to a national action on Parliament Square on the 13th October, asking for 1000 people to be resettled before Christmas.

ADDENDUM 2

NORTH LONDON CITIZENS (CITIZENS UK)    DRAFT

THE REFUGEE CRISIS: LOCAL WELCOME & RESETTLEMENT

Terms of Reference for Barnet Citizens Refugees Welcome Group

“I have said that we will offer places to 50 Syrian refugees because London Citizens have got themselves organised and they have removed all of the objections I could have come up with – the housing, the doctors, the reception into the community.” – Cllr Cornelius on Sky News

Formation

1. A chair and up to 10 members of Barnet Citizens and strategic partners, representative of our community’s diversity

2. We will invite expert advisors in specific fields to become advisors to the group on their area of interest.

3. The need for the group will be reviewed one year after the last refugee from the SVPRS programme arrives in Barnet

Strategy

4. Build an alliance of anchor civil society institutions prepared to welcome and resettle Syrians in our neighbourhood, with Barnet Council support.

5. Co-ordinate local civil society support to be an effective force for welcoming Syrian refugees

6. Relate to the council’s chosen service provider for resettlement to provide ‘wrap around’ support

7. Ensure that the refugees are able to arrive in a timely manner

8. Be aware of and work to Government policy and practice as it develops.

Practicalities

9. The potential outcomes anticipated are:

* welcome and orientation as the refugees arrive in our area;

* supporting Barnet Council in finding landlords who can offer housing at DSS rates

* signposting and support to accessing public services

* organising therapeutic support (for 6 months- 1 year) for those who need it

* mentoring for social and religious integration

* supporting children into school

* supporting adults into work through our relationships with local employers

* English language support

* organising GPs surgeries who are keen to take on refugees and supporting their registration

* food, clothing and toy provision where needful

* organising private sponsorship if the law changes to support it

Conflicts of interest

10. The Barnet Citizens Refugee Welcome Board is intended to organise the voluntary contributions of civil society organisations. All members and expert advisors to the Board will declare any financial, legal or statutory interests in particular resettlement programmes to the Barnet Citizens organiser who will record them in a Register of Interests.

1 Comment

  1. John Freund, CM

    Rose Mullarkey writes… Wallasey SVP DC have arranged a concert to support refugees. To my horror many Catholics have no understanding of the situation. My parish priest has written this prayer to help people. His name if Fr John G Feeney and he is parish priest in dioc. Shrewsbury UK.Could you publish this on Famvin please

    Prayer for Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers
    God, no one is a stranger to you and no one is ever far from your loving care.
    In your kindness watch over Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers,
    those separated from their loved ones, those who are lost, and those who have been exiled from their homes
    Bring them safely to the place where they long to be, and help us always to show your kindness to strangers and
    those in need. We ask this through Christ our lord who too was a refugee and migrant searching for a home

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