Churches around England step up to support those displaced by international conflict

Date Posted: Apr 03, 2023.

Beyond providing emergency basics like toiletries, clothes and food, churches are supporting refugees to rebuild their lives and join and contribute to local communities, no matter their faith or circumstances.

Church Urban Fund, in partnership with Benefact Trust, awarded £126,000 to 37 church projects reaching 2,621 Ukrainian and Afghan refugees last year, and has a further £140,000 available in 2023. It funded youth clubs, ladies’ driving lessons, mattresses, music tuition, sewing and knitting classes, language support, advocacy, and expenses for volunteers or facilities.

A refugee whom the church is helping, who arrived in the UK from Afghanistan with his pregnant wife and family, heard about Christ First Watford Welcome Church by word of mouth.

The church provides support and activities for Afghan refugees living in an isolated hotel. They work in partnership with the local city council to help refugee students settle into school, organising school uniform and equipment for children. Their CUF grant provides a youth club, ladies’ driving lessons and access to a sports facility where participants can play football, volleyball and cricket. The project focuses on mental health and wellbeing support as well as integration.

“Welcome Church are the only support that we have been receiving. When we arrived, we didn’t have much at all, no baby equipment or essentials, the church provided these for us. We never expected to be in the hotel for a long time. There are so many restrictions in a hotel, especially for young kids and people. We are hoping for long term support and maybe to get a house for me and my family.”

“Our work in local areas often highlights examples of universal need and prompts innovative, nationally useful solutions. We’ve dramatically widened this scope to include meeting the needs of those displaced by international conflict arriving in our communities. Churches aren’t just providing the basics, they’re doing it with love and compassion.”

The Revd Adam Edwards, Acting Group CEO

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants for Benefact Trust, said: “We’ve been inspired by the level of support churches are providing for refugees, who are arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back, scared for their futures. We’re proud to partner with CUF to make a real difference to the lives of children, individuals and families who have experienced such trauma and need our help.”

A further £140,000 is available for churches from CUF to fund projects run by volunteers, that source goods and services from local businesses, that collaborate with other local churches or Christian organisations, and to projects that help bring refugees together with the local community and provide activities that support their physical health, reduce stress and improve their overall wellbeing.