You can now listen online to the online meeting on integration, partnership and sanctuary hosted by Anglican Alliance and Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.
Three presentations outlined how Anglican churches and agencies in the UK and Ireland work with refugees.
Revd Joan Lyon spoke about her work in Luxembourg, the need to open our hearts and her experiences in Aberdeen (where she works in St Ninian’s, Scottish Episcopal Church). The ‘granite city’ is not a traditional dispersal city though industry and colleges make it multicultural and a spirit of partnership has developed.
Revd Sally Smith is part of Hanley Team Ministry, Diocese of Lichfield, Church of England). Sally’s experience was of a group working with refugees growing out of the church and eventually – and painfully y- becoming a separate organisation. She spoke of the culture shock for some church members when their building looked like ‘a jumble sale’ as donations were received and stored. Church networks that stretch across borders were powerfully and quickly used to reunite children trapped in Bulgaria with their Mum and a sibling in Stoke.
Revd Aled Edwards is chief executive of Cytûn – Church Together in Wales and chairs Displaced People in Action, a Welsh asylum and refugee organisation. He spoke of the recent success of 90 refugees becoming GMC-registered doctors and working in the NHS in Wales. He also looked forward to Wales becoming the first Nation of Sanctuary, something Cytûn had begun to lobby for 8-9 years ago.
The encouraging session sharing best practice was introduced by Isobel Owen, programme officer with the Anglican Alliance and recorded by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees co-ordinator, David Bradwell. Isobel said:
“Hearing from Anglican and Episcopalian speakers from Scotland, England and Wales gave us the opportunity to learn from churches in different contexts and to hear how they are mobilising their assets and creativity to enable the integration of refugees in their communities, and how churches are being mutually enriched by ‘welcoming the stranger’. We also heard how churches are being entrepreneurial about building partnerships and trust with local authorities and other faiths to respond to the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in their communities.”