Caritas Refugee Response Conference

An expert team from the International Organisation of Migration, UNHCR, The Home Office, DWP and Horton Housing came together on the 29th January with fifty volunteers from fourteen parishes from the Diocese of Salford, Shrewsbury and Liverpool Archdiocese to train parishioners to become Community Sponsors of refugees. Community sponsorship is a new resettlement pathway for vulnerable refugee families who have been living in refugee camps before being welcomed by local communities here in the UK.

Mark Wiggin, Director of Caritas said, “It’s enormously encouraging to see so many people meeting here today for this unique opportunity to learn about our roles as sponsors to refugee families. Today’s training is an important step towards becoming a welcoming community that is confident and competent as a community sponsor. The incredible training team is pioneering a very important and human response to the displacement and resettlement of refugees that puts the refugee family at the heart of our communities enabling us to respond practically to the tragedy and trauma of forced migration”.

Amongst the many highlights from the days training was the input from Chris Samra from the Fishguard community in West Wales, one of the pioneering communities to sponsor a family. She said, “welcoming a refugee family will be the best thing you will ever do!’  Another highlight was Samir,  whose family was the first to come to the UK under the scheme, sharing the joy of his family when he said, “When people help you it’s wonderful – a million thanks is not enough!”

The Caritas Refugee Response started back in September 2015 after listening to the call of Pope Francis that every religious community, diocese and parish should respond to the largest humanitarian crisis and forced migration of modern times. Today Pope Francis reminds us the ‘ Only mercy can truly contribute to a more human world’ and only mercy challenge the ‘globalised indifference’ that enables injustice in the world to prevail.

The national Community Sponsorship scheme is supported through Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and you can contact the National Co-ordinator Sean Ryan for more details at s.ryan@caritassalford.org.uk