Response to the Refugee Crisis

The following message has been circulated by the Watford Deanery Chapter with suggestions on how we can respond in some way to this humanitarian crisis:

8 Practical Ways You Can Help

Many of us have been heart-broken and appalled by the plight of the refugees in Europe, and become increasingly concerned with the unfolding refugee crisis. As a Deanery we would like to encourage every member of the churches in Watford to respond in some way to this humanitarian crisis. Below are eight suggested ways you can personally help. Please consider what you can do, and what your church community can be involved in.

1. Prayer

Please pray for the refugees, the relief organisations, the governments, and all involved in this crisis. Please pray personally and during church services. May we also encourage you to gather like-minded people together to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

2. Donate Money

A whole host of national charities have dedicated Syrian appeals you can donate towards, and are offering help to refugees with bedding, food and shelter. These include: Save the Children, Oxfam, Unicef, Christian Aid. There is also the Disaster Emergency Committee (dec.org.uk) who coordinate funding and assistance. Please donate as individuals and consider whether your church should have a special appeal, or use harvest donations.

3. Donate Practical Items

As well as donating financially to non-government organisations, you can offer practical items like food, blankets, shelter, water. Save the Children, Red Cross, Refugee Action, and other groups are sending items to Calais, and other locations, to support the housing of feeding of refugees. CalAid is a London based local initiative sending items to Calais. There is an Amazon WishList set up on their website to enable people to donate directly.

4. Support Grass Roots Groups

As the crisis unfolds and refugees are settled in the UK there will be more and more pressure on local services and groups. Within Watford this will affect Christian charities in our local area that many of us know well including: Watford & Three Rivers Refugee Partnership (wtrrp.org.uk), Foodbank (watford.foodbank.org.uk), New Hope (newhope.org.uk). Please support these groups with your practical support; donating money, donating practical items, volunteering, prayer, and more.

5. Hosting & Housing

Do you have a spare room, or know of an empty house? Would you be willing to act as a guarantor, perhaps with others, to rent some accommodation? As the crisis unfolds refugees will be coming to Watford in their hundreds. Whilst some housing will be available through the local authority there will also be a need for private accommodation. A German initiative “Refugees Welcome” has linked up refugees with host families, and a similar organisation may well be setup in the UK. In addition the local authority and MP will be able to offer guidance. This is a long term commitment as there is no guarantee how long the refugees will need to be housed.

6. Volunteering

Many relief organisations are looking for additional volunteers with the necessary skills and experience to help. Roles include medical, educational, relief work, counselling, and more. Citizens UK is a scheme where people can volunteer, but also Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee (US-based charity), and many of the major NGO’s listed above, require extra help to meet the overwhelming need. These are skilled roles and usually require considerable training and experience, and a long term commitment.

7. Make Their Voice Heard

Continue to speak up for these vulnerable people, who have little voice of their own. Write to your MP, MEP, members of the House of Lords, and others in positions of influence. Sadly the crisis will continue when it has long since disappeared from our TV screens and newspapers. Ask your business and those in commerce to allocate part of their charitable giving and community awareness to the above, and ask them to offer their expertise to the crisis. Encourage family, friends, colleagues, and others to offer their personal support, perhaps giving them a copy of this document.

8. Meet Together – 23rd Sept 7:30pm

On Wednesday 23rd September at 7:30pm there will be an open meeting at St Mary’s Church, Watford, for all those interested in assisting with this crisis with prayer, practical help, and further sharing of ideas. Please be there if you can and encourage others to come along.

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