How King's is supporting refugees
In September 2015, the world was shocked by the image of the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean, whilst fleeing with his family from the war in his home.
The extent of the refugee crisis in Europe has at times been overwhelming and it is difficult to know how we as individuals and as a church can respond. The Bible clearly teaches us to stand up against injustice as well as protect and provide for those who are vulnerable and in need.
But in the quiet, removed calm of Norwich what could we do to help these thousands of people?
In response to the problems in Syria, the UK government has established it’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons resettlement programme (VPR) with the aim by 2020 to have provided homes for 20,000 Syrian refugees.
Norfolk County Council was allocated some of these families to re-home during 2017. God wonderfully opened a door for us at King’s to work with this council programme. Debbie Rowden from King’s, who works for Norwich City Council had the opportunity to link up with the team tasked in resettling the Syrian families. Debbie was able to offer the council practical support from King’s and this opened a clear way our church family could respond to the refugee crisis. Many other organisations and community groups also supported this council initiative, all aiming to welcome these vulnerable people to our city.
In 2017 groups of families arrived in Norwich as part of the VPR scheme. 27 adults and 15 children made up 12 families all placed in Norwich from refugee camps in mainland Europe.
Funded by money from the November 2016 gift day and the Andy Kind comedy night, King’s were able to provide bunks beds for the children, mattresses, towels, toiletries, coats for each person and fresh food boxes on their arrival. We also provided a venue and meals for their induction days and at those days several King's members met the families with welcome gifts presented from the church.
It was a humbling moment when one of the Syrian fathers, through an interpreter, thanked all those from King’s for the welcome we had extended to them. He contrasted the difficult time they had been through as families with the kindness they had experienced on their arrival into the UK.
King’s have also provided a venue for a summer school for the children. Our Babies & Toddlers groups have given children’s clothes to those families who came with only one suitcase of clothing per family. Now the families have settled in, we are praying for further opportunities to support them, and further refugees arriving in Norwich from other countries.
On January 19th, 2018 King’s will be running ‘Quiz for a Cause’ to raise further money for our ongoing work with refugees and asylum seekers. This looks to be an excellent night of fun and quizzing whilst also looking to support even more people like these Syrian families. Please do consider booking a place and inviting friends and family along as tickets will be on sale soon.
Thank you to all for your financial support and time given to help these families. It has been joyfully and gratefully received.