Dear Church Family
In recent times hundreds of thousands of people across our world have left their homes and become refugees, to escape from terrorism or political oppression. You may recall Krish Kandiah speaking at our Minster Carol Service in December 2015 about God's call on us to care and show practical love for such refugees.
Many refugees have left as families and a few of these have ended up in York, and it's been wonderful to see people in our city and from our church reaching out and showing love and care in very practical ways. Some refugees have arrived in the UK on their own, including children. Some of these children became separated from their families on their journey. Other children left, and have arrived, on their own - and they've needed a family to join.
As we heard of this need, last December Sam and I brought into our family a teenager who arrived in the UK last year as one of these unaccompanied refugees. Over recent weeks we've heard something of his story but this week I heard it in full as I sat in a formal Home Office interview with him. He explained why he'd fled his native country for fear of his life, how he was trafficked across half a continent, was detained in prison in another oppressive country, crossed the Mediterranean, then travelled across Europe, lived in the jungle in Calais and finally ended up here in the UK. It was a truly remarkable story and I will never forget how the officials and I just sat there in silence as the words spilled out, captivated by this extraordinary journey experienced by one so brave and young.
Ruth and Martine Somerville from church also have a teenager living with them who has come from similar circumstances. In fact there are now around 200 children in the UK who've arrived with no family, looking for a safe place to live and for a loving family to support them. 150 more are due to arrive very soon. They will need homes to go to. Parliament agreed last year to receive 3000 such children but recently it's been decided to end this Dubs Transfer scheme at just 350, bringing in just 10% or so of the number originally agreed.
If, like me, you're concerned for what will happen to these 2650 other children, and you think that the UK should have the capacity to welcome them as intended, may I urge you to do something about it. You could write to your MP this weekend in time for the parliamentary debate about it next week. You could offer yourself and your family as a potential host-family for an unaccompanied minor (do talk to us, or the Somervilles if you want to know more about this). You could pray.
Below is an email from Krish Kandiah about this, giving some helpful suggestions, especially about contacting your MP.
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)
FROM: Krish Kandiah (Founder & Director - Home for Good)
No doubt you will have heard of the Government's decision over the last few days to end the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied refugee children coming to the UKfrom Europe. To date, 200 unaccompanied refugee children have been welcomed into the UK through this scheme with another 150 to come, but there are still vulnerable children in Europe who are at risk.
The Dubs transfer scheme came about partly as a result of people like you expressing your commitment to welcoming refugee children. Adding your voice now continues to show the Government that the UK still cares about these children and is willing to welcome them into safe fostering families.
One of the most helpful things you can do is write to your MP to let them know of your concern for unaccompanied refugee children. There will be a parliamentary debate on the Dubs transfer scheme on Thursday 23 February. Could you write to your MP and ask them to attend the debate and stand up for child refugees? We’ve included some notes to help your write your MP below, but the most important thing is to let them know what you’ve done or are planning to do to help refugees. If you’ve become a foster carer, supported friends through the fostering process, or have volunteered helping refugee children, let your MP know.
Dr Krish Kandiah,
Writing To Your MP
Writing to your MP is quick and simple. You can find your MP’s details by putting in your postcode on parliament's website. You can also use Write To Them to send them a quick email.
When writing to your MP:
Points you might like to mention: