New group invites people to help welcome refugees to Chichester and Bognor

An Afghan mother cries with relief as she clasps her child. Photo by Giles Duley
An Afghan mother cries with relief as she clasps her child. Photo by Giles Duley

The Chichester and Arun districts have joined a nationwide movement which seeks to provide a culture of welcome and hospitality for refugees and asylum seekers.

Sanctuary in Chichester, a local branch of the National City of Sanctuary Movement and a community wide network and charity launched on Monday.

More than 1 million people have fled war-torn Syria

More than 1 million people have fled war-torn Syria

Sanctuary in Chichester is working with West Sussex County Council and district councils for Chichester and Arun to help implement the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Under that scheme 20,000 people from Syrian refugee camps will be settled in the UK by 2020.

Sanctuary in Chichester is a community group that facilitates action by ordinary citizens whose compassion motivates them to show practical care in co-operation with Local and Central Government.

Individuals and faith and community groups are joining together to take action.

The UK has pledged to take 20,000 refugees by 2020

The UK has pledged to take 20,000 refugees by 2020

The coordinator of the Chichester group, Roger Pask, said: “We are witnessing the greatest refuge crisis since 1945.

“The people of our area want to play their part. From fundraising to the provision of much needed furniture and supplementing food; from welcoming refugees at the point of entry to sustainable befriending over the long-term; from advocacy and language support to help with transport and other aspects of integration – we all have a contribution we can make that will have a lasting impact on the lives of refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK.”

Sanctuary in Chichester is a network of over 50 citizens from all walks of life, who are already beginning to make a difference to the future lives of asylum seekers in Chichester and the UK.

Sanctuary in Chichester aims to welcome up to ten families in the next two years to our area.

All of these families will have been health and security screened and any specific needs will have been assessed in the refugee camp on Syria’s border.

They will have official refugee status under the criteria set by the United Nations for refugees and will be entitled to stay in the UK for five years and later to apply for full citizenship.

They will be entitled to benefits normally available to UK citizens and to apply for work.

In the early period they may have many needs which ordinary people can help them meet, including applying for employment. The state provision will be basic so there will be lots of scope for help of various kinds.

“We aim to work in partnership with charities serving similar causes such as Children of Calais, Children on the Edge (who are based in Chichester and provide education in Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon) and the Rural Refugee Network with a very similar vision to settle refugees in West Sussex and Hampshire,” added Mr Pask.

To help in small or large ways in this work readers are invited to contact Roger through rogerpask@btinternet.com

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