By Alexandra Foden
It’s interesting to think that 12 months ago I was asked to take the role of a Refugee Resettlement Caseworker. From being young, attending school, college and University I always felt I was destined to help people live a better quality of life and make a difference, yet I never thought I would get an opportunity like this. It has been a privileged experience supporting refugee families with their resettlement in the UK after living in hardship, persecution and fear in their home country. The day the refugees arrived I greeted them at the airport and was overwhelmed with empathy and the need to help them. From that day on the families faced many challenges and I began to see them with a new perspective.
Continue reading “Refugee Week 6: Breaking barriers”
By Francis Haffner
As a child, I was forced to leave my homeland due to conflict and build a new life in the UK. I have come through many struggles. Today I thank God for his blessings. Here’s a little of my story.
I grew up in Sierra Leone in West Africa with my mum and dad and the rest of my family. We lived a normal life, but when the civil war started in 1991 life became impossible. Rebel soldiers went door to door asking occupants whether they supported them. Thousands of people were being killed, and I saw things no child should ever witness. Friends of mine were victims, and some children were forced to become soldiers. By God’s grace, my family were spared death when we fled for our lives to the Gambia. At the age of 8, I became a refugee.
Continue reading “Refugee Week 5: My story – from Sierra Leone to London – building a new life through resilience and strength”
By Laurence Sandman (adapted and updated from a blog originally published on The Whole World Mobilizing, with permission)
3616 miles. 5820 kilometres.
It’s a simple matter to type a departure point and a destination into Google and it tells me that it is 3616 miles or 5820 km and will take 61 hours by car. Easy.
Departure point: Tehran, Iran
Destination: The Salvation Army, Ellesmere Port, UK
Distance: 3616 miles / 5820 km
Duration of journey (by car): 61 hours.
As great and, I’m sure, as accurate as Google maps is, the figures don’t reflect the real world for real people. They certainly don’t even scratch the surface of the circumstances, the conditions and, above all, the emotional struggles of those who, as Christians and other faiths, find themselves in such desperate straits that a long, dangerous and uncertain journey seems the only way out.
Easy? Certainly not.
Continue reading “Refugee Week 4: 3616 miles – making the journey from Tehran to Ellesmere Port”
By Captain Will Pearson
It was the photo of Alan Kurdi that was the tipping point. How can one photo make such a difference?
We knew in our heads that thousands were dying, but little Alan forced us to pay attention to our hearts and to do something. It wasn’t just numbers anymore, it was people, people like us, children like ours, desperate, afraid and dying every day. We claimed to be a people of hope who believed in a better world. We had to act.
Continue reading “Refugee Week 3: Turning Hope into Action – glimpses of the Kingdom of God in Bicester”
By Captain Annette Booth
A year ago, I attended a meeting about asylum seeking in the UK and learnt that many people were being housed near me in the North-West of England by the Home Office. Individuals and families were placed in shared accommodation, most with little English language, whilst they awaited their asylum decisions.
I asked what the best way was to make contact, and was told to knock on doors and ask people directly. I went home dismayed and began to pray that God would help these hidden people find their way to us, at The Salvation Army Corps in Bootle.
And they started to come….
Continue reading “Refugee Week 2: ‘And they started to come…’ – welcoming refugees at Bootle Salvation Army”
by Lieutenant Sam Tomlin
When I was advertising the information evening for the community sponsorship of refugees in our local community, I put a post on our local community Facebook page. One of the first responses I had was from a lady who said something along the lines of: ‘Why are you letting these people in when our people don’t have anywhere to live?’ Someone else piped up calling her a racist bigot who didn’t care about the horrors Syrian refugees had been through, and this continued back and forth for a few hours until the moderator took the discussion down.
To whom do we owe our love? Two competing answers to this question were rehearsed in this short Facebook exchange which seemed to encapsulate the divisions that had been building for decades in Western nations, brought to light so evidently with Brexit and Trump. Continue reading “Refugee Week 1: Why Should Christians Welcome Refugees?”
By Nick Coke
This article first appeared in the January-February 2017 edition of ‘The Officer’ magazine and is re-published with permission.
Bob Dylan is my hero. There, I’ve gone and said it! Some might laugh at the suggestion, others cringe and perhaps there are even those who wonder who on earth he is. Let me help you understand.
Bob Dylan is an American singer and songwriter, born Robert Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941. Rising to prominence as a folk singer, he is accredited as a pioneer of the 1960s counterculture and the voice of a generation. His early songs accompanied the civil rights movement, and he even shared a stage with Martin Luther King on the day the Rev King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963.
Continue reading “The Times they are a-changin’”
We’re delighted to announce that Marching Towards Justice (Marchando Hacia La Justicia) is now available in Spanish. It can be downloaded for free here on The Centre of Theology and Community website. Thanks to our friends in The Salvation Army USA Eastern territory for their support!
By Major Nick Coke
Look at this photo. What do you see? It’s a typical Christmas scene – The Salvation Army band out carolling. ‘It’s not Christmas until I’ve heard the Salvation Army band’, I can almost hear someone say. It looks a little chilly but even from this distance I can sense that warm, fuzzy feeling inside as the music rises and falls in my imagination. Strangely comforting, hopeful, beautiful.
Now take another look, but let’s turn the photo around. Same band, different perspective. This is not your usual carolling gig. This is a band playing carols for justice outside the Houses of Parliament. On this night they played for unaccompanied refugee children who remain stranded far from home.
Standing nearby as the band played, I sensed the power of the Christmas story confronting a dark world in which children flee war and poverty only to be turned away. Together with 400 others from a wide spectrum of faith and civil society organizations we called on Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to ensure Britain plays its part in welcoming 1000 children to our shores. This year we’re up to 800, but surely we can make room for a few more this Christmas. There is room in the inn! There are those ready and willing to give shelter and a warm welcome.
Together we sang a few especially adapted carols, accompanied by the band. New words to favourite tunes – here’s one:
‘In the bleak midwinter
Far away from home;
Children sleep as refugees
Scared and alone;
Snow is falling, snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter
Not that long ago.
The streets they cannot hold them
Nor makeshift camps sustain;
The fear is that they’ll flee away
While confusion reigns:
In this bleak mid-winter
No stable place will do
Each child needs a place of rest,
Just like me and you.
What can we give them,
Civilians as we are?
If I were an MP
I would write a law;
If I were prime minister
I would do my part;
Yet what we can we give them –
A welcome from the heart.’
Here’s a thought. Why not use these words at a carol service this Sunday? And as you do, consider what you can do to help unaccompanied refugee children. Restart The Rescue Christmas Carols can be downloaded by clicking the link and a petition signed here.
Guest post by Cadet Lottie Milner
Last July, as a young adult member of The Salvation Army Corps in Stepney, I was invited to take part in a BBC Radio 4 recorded discussion, marking the launch into the Citizens UK Commission into Islam, Participation and Public Life. Gathered together in a room in the East London Mosque were a group of young people from different backgrounds, responding to comments made by David Cameron in his speech about extremism, and discussing the young British Muslim identity. I heard a cry of pain graciously articulated amongst those present that I had not fully recognised before. My eyes were opened for the first time to how multi-faceted the issues facing British Muslims are. We could never have imagined the situation that we see now, a year later.
Continue reading “Us Together: Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life.”