There are 25.9 million refugees in the world today (UNHCR, 2019). Since the height of the Refugee Crisis in 2015, there has been a reawakening to the need to show concern and care for those fleeing war, famine and persecution across the globe. Refugees leave their homes, families, communities, employment… their whole lives behind. Arriving in a new country can add to the trauma and stress they experience. Difficult asylum systems and restrictions mean it can be extremely difficult for refugees to rebuild their lives.
Who is arriving in the UK and what is the opportunity for the Church?
The Refugee Crisis
“The war came suddenly in Syria. One day when I was working and came back home, the streets were closed and there were guns around us. I left Syria to Lebanon, then Turkey. In Turkey I managed to flee to Greece but the first time our boat sank in the water. We were around 300 people in the water, 30 of them died.”Milad - Syrian Refugee
According to the UNHCR there are approximately 157,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK (UNHCR, 2018). This is about 0.006% of the total number of refugees in the world today. Refugees and asylum seekers usually don’t have a choice where they live in the UK meaning that they can be very isolated and alone. Restrictions to English language classes mean that they struggle to integrate and make friends in the community they find themselves.
“Before I found the church, I was really struggling. All my family was gone. I felt so lonely and lost.”Abbas – Kurdish refugee
The opportunity for the Church
Churches are ready-made communities where refugees can find a family to belong. Often at the centre of local communities, churches can introduce refugees to local people, help them to learn English and to develop their skills. This means that they can contribute to the local community and integrate effectively.
“I remember the first time I visited my church; I felt so welcome and I found a new life. I was really encouraged, especially when people prayed for me. I had lost my whole family, but with my church I have found a new home and a new family.”Abbas – Kurdish refugee
Welcome Churches' vision is for every refugee to be welcomed by the local church
With approximately 50,700 churches and 5.5 million Christians living in the UK this is achievable! No matter where your church is, there is something that you can do to welcome refugees.