We write with some good news and updates……
Good news: In November, Jeremy accompanied an asylum seeker to the Immigration Court. As well as receiving significant support from his local church, he regularly joined Restore’s men’s activities and for nearly three years has been matched to a Restore befriender. They often walk together in Sutton Park which the asylum seeker finds therapeutic. He recently described his befriender as ‘a best friend’. Before we went into Court the barrister informed us that the Home Office was offering to revoke the earlier refusal and offer refugee status! People had been praying that the appeal would go well, no-one dreamed we wouldn’t even have to give evidence. The new refugee was beaming – in fact he was still smiling 2 hours later, so much so he said his cheeks ached! What a transformation!
Befriending Co-ordinator: We are delighted to report that after 6 months in the acting role and an internal recruitment process, Rachel Dale was appointed Befriending Co-ordinator from 1st November. Rachel will continue to lead the women’s work.
Many Voices – Saturday 25 January 2020: As part of a 24-hour prayer event in Birmingham city centre, we invite you to join us to pray for refugees and asylum seekers around the world and here in our city for one hour from 11am on Saturday 25 January 2020 at the Priory Rooms, Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, B4 6AF.
Funding update – more good news: Thank you to all who donated. Combined with new giving from Trusts and churches we have received a total of £19,750. We still need to find £50,000 of new funding in 2020, just to continue existing work. The Presidents of Birmingham Churches Together have launched a funding appeal to churches, so please encourage your church to respond. For further information, please click here.
If you would like to donate please click here or for BACS details or Standing Order and Gift Aid forms please click here.
Church of Sanctuary Award: Congratulations to Six Ways Baptist Church, Erdington on becoming the first church in Birmingham to receive a Church of Sanctuary award. These awards recognise a church’s commitment to being a safe and welcoming place to all, especially those seeking sanctuary.
Changes affecting asylum seekers: Earlier in 2019, two new contracts started which affect asylum seekers. The AIRE contract (Advice, Information, Reporting and Guidance) is the expansion of a contract already delivered by Migrant Help. The AASC contract (Asylum Accommodation and Support services Contract) in the West Midlands region is delivered by Serco. One key change is that instead of contacting Serco if there are housing problems ALL asylum accommodation issues need to be reported to Migrant Help by phone as part of the AIRE contract. The all important phone number is 0808 8010503. Delivery of both new contracts is being monitored.
Global Resettlement Scheme: The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme is on track to resettle 20,000 Syrians (including 550 in Birmingham) by the end of March 2020. The scheme will be replaced by a Global Resettlement Scheme. The first target is that 5,000 refugees will arrive between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. The scheme relies on Local Authorities pledging to welcome a specific number of resettled refugees. Birmingham City Council, as part of its City of Sanctuary commitment, will be making a pledge. The Community Sponsorship scheme will continue and any refugees arriving via that scheme will be in addition to the 5,000 target.
Jesus was a refugee: As Christmas approaches, we remember that Jesus and his parents fled the persecution of King Herod and became refugees in Egypt. It was a matter of life or death: the only way to ensure that Jesus survived. Years later, as an adult, Jesus called those who follow him to ‘welcome the stranger’.
Thank you and Happy Christmas: Thank you for your ongoing support of our work and all you have done in 2019 to welcome, value and integrate refugees and asylum seekers. We look forward to partnering with you again in 2020.
We wish you a joyful Christmas and peace throughout 2020,
Jeremy, Rachel, Andy and Geraldine
Restore staff team
The world we long to see…..More