The Church mobilizes for refugees across the UK

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THE government reports that more than 80,000 Ukrainians have been accommodated by about 25,000 hosts under the Homes for Ukraine program (News March 15). Many parishes and dioceses are involved in reception, in addition to running reception centres, counseling centers and conversation classes.

Eight dioceses have pledged to find homes for 50 or more Ukrainians by becoming strategic partners of the community organizing group Citizens UK, one of the government’s recognized providers of support to Ukrainian refugees. Citizens UK, together with its partners, connects refugees with hosts.

Citizens UK strategic partners include the dioceses of Exeter, Oxford, Chelmsford, Portsmouth, Hereford, Guildford, Leicester, Southwell & Nottingham and Llandaff, as well as Peterborough Cathedral, Baptists Together and the Roman Catholic charity Father Hudson’s Care. Some churches have worked with partners other than citizens, such as RESET, Refugees at Home or Make a Difference Foundation.

Each C of E diocese has produced guidelines on hospitality. Sponsors who accept Ukrainians through a diocesan matchmaking program are likely to go to church or have a parish or clergy connection.

Since the spring, about 2,168 churches have registered with the Sanctuary Foundation, a refugee charity set up by Baptist social entrepreneur Dr. Krish Kandiah, to pledge support for Ukrainian refugees.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, is hosting one or more refugees, as are the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Jackson, the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, the Bishop of Buckingham, the Dr Alan Wilson, and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley. The AC of E spokesperson said several other bishops were “on the list to host”.

The Archdeacon of Plymouth, Ven. Nick Shutt and his wife, Corinne, welcome Lena Kulakovska, her newborn baby and two older children, who were picked up in Germany by the AP from Archdeacon, Beth Collier, and her husband, Matt. Ms Kulakovska gave birth to her third child, Nicole, at Plymouth Hospital last month; she fled Ukraine when she was 36 weeks pregnant. In total, the Diocese of Exeter found 96 hosts for 30 Ukrainian families; another ten are awaiting British visas. Local Ukrainians and the Department of Russian at the University of Exeter provide translators.

In the Diocese of Oxford, more than 200 Ukrainians are settling in more than 80 homes, and the diocese has employed a refugee to welcome and translate the new arrivals. In the diocese of Chelmsford, whose bishop, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, came to Britain as a refugee, 29 homes are sponsoring 57 Ukrainians. The Diocese’s Communities for Ukrainians program aims to help parishes help refugees settle and access services and employment.

The Diocese of Canterbury has found 20 hosts and is taking referrals from the Newcastle-based Make a Difference Foundation, which helps Ukrainians travel to the UK. The diocese has set up a reception center to provide advice to around fifty guests and guests per week. Parishes independently send goods to Ukraine, provide friendships and sponsors, set up conversation classes and prayer groups, and produce prayer cards in Ukrainian.

Kent Refugee Projects Manager Domenica Pecoraro said: “I don’t think there is a parish in Kent that is not somehow involved. A donation enabled her to increase her hours and employ a Ukrainian-speaking project assistant on a part-time basis. Some Ukrainians had started attending C of E churches, she said, if they had met the vicar or the parish school.

In the Diocese of Portsmouth, more than 70 sponsors have offered to host 179 Ukrainians, and more than 80 applicants are still waiting to be matched with hosts. Jane Cadman, who with her husband hosted 22-year-old student Yelyzaveta Dovzhenko, said: “Our spare room is actually our daughter’s room, who is at university. . . She says [if a Ukrainian needed the room] she would just sleep on the sofa bed.

While the Diocese of London has not counted the number of lay people who have hosted Ukrainians, 13 clergy families are hosting; a spokesperson said others are expected to follow. Two Ukrainian-speaking Anglican priests offer chaplaincy and liturgies in Ukrainian. The Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Musicians, on the Holborn Viaduct, has made rooms available to Ukrainian music students and hosts their weekly concerts. Other churches hold drop-in sessions and English classes.

Archdeacon Shutt said it was difficult to persuade Ukrainians to live in rural areas because they wanted access to schools and public transport. But he suggested that their perception of ‘rural’ might be ‘somewhat different from ours, as we were asked questions like ‘Is there electricity? and ‘Will they have running water?’ “.

The Diocese of Leicester has provided five sponsors for ten refugees and is preparing for further arrivals. Its coordinator, Canon Karen Rooms, said Leicester had a large Ukrainian community; a Ukrainian Roman Catholic church organizes collections and hosts drop-ins. Peterborough Cathedral has employed a part-time Ukrainian to coordinate new arrivals and is housing a refugee family in a flat owned by the cathedral.

The Diocese of Southwark has provided a parsonage in Dulwich for a family of nine and hosts “an extremely large number” of guests; liturgies celebrated by the clergy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church take place in a rural church near Reigate.

A church in the town center of the Diocese of Hereford works with the council and other organizations and organizes weekly meetings of the Ukrainian association and sponsors.

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