Refugees – how can we help?

A packed meeting on 16th November heard of ways to respond to refugees from war and oppression. Tom Gillum, vicar of St John’s and St Mary’s Churches in Isleworth, described a recent visit to Amman in Jordan and the impact of conflict on people he met there who are now in effect stateless.  Some now have the chance to come to this country.  Can we give them hope and a place they can call home?

Information was shared by Hounslow Council, Migrants Organise, Refugee Support Network, voluntary groups and Citizens UK.

Hounslow Council have offered to take 10 Syrian families from camps in Jordan.  The local authority is making preparations to ensure services are in place for the families who are likely to arrive in the early part of next year.  Offers of self contained properties for a guaranteed two years are needed as a first priority.  Once here, the families will need befriending and support as they settle children into schools, clubs and their own faith community.  English classes will also be needed, either through a college or one of the many voluntary groups which are already providing this. Representatives of two voluntary groups described what they offer. It is very helpful to the Council to know that there is good community support as shown by this meeting.

The meeting also heard about support for unaccompanied minors, some of whom are with families and some with foster parents.  There is a need for destitution support when they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for public funds.

There is also need for befriending for detainees at the Heathrow Immigration and Removal Centre while they wait for final appeals before being returned to their home country.  Patrick Wright, Chaplain there, described the need for friendship and also toiletries and clothing.

Citizens UK is a campaigning, organising and action group which takes up issues around social justice such as refugees.  They have successfully encouraged Ealing and Hammersmith Councils to agree to take their share.  They are looking to set up a local chapter of the organisation in Hounslow to take up this and other issues. Get in touch to know more.

A follow up meeting to today’s event is planned. To be kept informed about how you can get involved contact