St Mark’s Church in Milton Keynes handed over house keys to a refugee family last week after a fundraising campaign to furnish their new home with everything from toothbrushes to a fridge freezer.
The Church of England explains that the church crowdsourced items through an online ‘wish list’ as well as raising money through coffee mornings and collections.
The family was came to the UK as part of the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme through which the UK government will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees, working closely with the UNHCR to identify individuals and families.
Rev Paul Oxley, vicar of St Mark’s said:
“We are part of the Refugees Welcome group in Milton Keynes, including the Red Cross and we are working in partnership with the Council. Last year three or four refugee families moved to Milton Keynes and we helped with that. This year we were asked if we could take responsibility for one of three houses – a local Baptist Church has taken a house and a firm of solicitors has taken another.”
The church recognised that “the family will have arrived with nothing having been in a refugee camp for three or four years”. The congregation took the approach that if the house wasn’t good enough for themselves, then it wasn’t going to be good enough for their new neighbours. Donations were received from local shops and businesses as well as members of the community.
“We are organising everything from toothbrushes to a sofa and a fridge freezer. We put together a wish list on Amazon and we are fundraising for other items – some people have just donated and some people have held coffee mornings or whip rounds at work. Our aim is that when the family arrive, they will walk in and everything will be there. We have bought children’s books in Arabic that we will put on the book shelf in their bedroom and teddy bears.”