Welcome Churches has issued the below press release in response to the UK government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement’ announcements. We are strongly encouraging Christians and churches to engage with the six week long public consultation launched by the Home Office as explained below. We are also hosting an emergency prayer meeting on Monday 29th March from 8-9pm, you can sign up to attend via refugee-prayer-hour.eventbrite.co.uk
Press Release, 25th March 2021
On Wednesday Home Secretary Priti Patel laid out proposed plans for the “biggest overhaul of the UK’s asylum system in decades”. The subsequently released ‘New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement’ confirmed numerous policy changes, including seeing people who arrive in the UK by what the government call illegal means, no longer having the same entitlements as those arriving through legal channels.
Welcome Churches is a national charity with a vision to see every refugee and asylum seeker in the UK welcomed by their local church. The charity runs a national network of over 275 churches committed to following the biblical mandate “to welcome the stranger”. Their CEO, Luke Goss commented: “Welcome Churches believes that the Bible is clear in its expression of God’s loving concern for the stranger and refugee. And that as a result there is a scriptural mandate for humanity to act compassionately and humanely towards those seeking asylum. Whilst we recognise that implementing immigration policy is complex, with many differing views, we want to affirm and promote the Christian principles of hospitality, dignity for all and compassion. We are concerned about the prospect of policies that will create a “two-tiered” system; whereby a case for asylum, and the associated support given, is judged by how an individual arrived in the UK. We believe this has the potential to unfairly punish people who have already fled extremely difficult and traumatic experiences. With little detail given on any additional commitments by the government on resettlement through alternative legal routes, it isn’t clear how the UK will continue to uphold its long held values of being a safe haven for those who need it. We want to stress the need for the UK government to employ a compassionate and just approach to all seeking safety on our shores. The number of annual asylum claims has dropped dramatically in recent years, with the UK home to a tiny fraction of the global refugee population. Whilst we welcome some of the proposals, such as the provision of more support for refugee integration, a faster system for claims to be processed and more access to legal advice, we believe across British society that there remains the capacity and desire to offer a loving, hospitable welcome to those fleeing war, violence or persecution. This has been widely evidenced by our growing network of refugee-welcoming churches, many of whom have been tirelessly reaching out to welcome those seeking safety on our shores for years, irrespective of how they may have reached the UK. For that we want to commend and celebrate them”.
The 52 page long policy statement is available to the public and the Home Office has set up a six week long public consultation, Luke added “as Welcome Churches we strongly encourage the UK Church to participate in this consultation and submit feedback. We believe this process offers a powerful opportunity for Christians to express the biblical heart of compassion and welcome. A chance to share learnings and stories gained through decades of service to refugees and asylum seekers, and to demonstrate that the Church is ready and willing to serve those seeking sanctuary. To advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters across the world and voice the need for an immigration system that reflects the biblical principles on which this country was built”. Churches can sign up to join Welcome Churches’ national online network here.
If you would like to support the work of Welcome Churches financially you can also donate to our work here . In doing so you are empowering us as a charity to serve over 280 churches to reach out and welcome refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.