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Bishop calls for Norfolk action on refugee crisis 

The Bishop of Norwich has announced plans for co-ordinating a local response from churches and faith groups across Norfolk and Waveney to the refugee crisis in Europe. Keith Morris reports.

In a letter to be read out in the hundreds of churches across the Diocese of Norwich, Bishop Graham James suggests ways in which people can help those affected by the fast-developing humanitarian crisis.
Bishop Graham said: “The vast humanitarian crisis in Syria and elsewhere which has led to thousands of refugees arriving in Europe concerns us all and has touched the hearts of many.

"The horrors and indignities that so many refugees suffer are terrible to contemplate. Already the Churches and many Christian people have urged our Government to respond compassionately and said that we can be counted on to give support.
“Here in the Diocese of Norwich we are seeking to do three things.

  • “We are gathering a list of properties and buildings which could be used either to house refugees temporarily or more permanently to supplement information already coordinated by Sanctuary Norfolk, an organisation of faith groups (including our own Mothers’ Union) which has been working for several months to encourage our local authorities to offer places for refugees here. Please send any offers to my PA, Coralie Nichols, by email to coralie.nichols@dioceseofnorwich.org who will keep a record.
  • “The Leader of Norfolk County Council has set up a Refugee Taskforce which has begun to meet and on which he has invited me to serve. As information becomes available I will ensure this is shared more widely among the churches as well as other agencies in our diocese. It will be essential for a good infrastructure to be in place for refugees when they arrive so that translation facilities, education and orientation in a new culture are undertaken. This includes giving them opportunities for worship and religious practice.
  • “We recognise that parishes and individuals may want to contribute funds to be used exclusively for the resettlement and support of any refugees in our diocese. So we have set up an account with the Norwich Diocesan Board of Finance for such funds to be deposited. Those who want to give to help refugees elsewhere in the world may wish to contribute to Christian Aid.

“Norfolk and Waveney has a long history of welcoming migrants and refugees, those strangers have enriched our lives here. More recently Norwich has received Congolese refugees under the UN Gateway programme. We seek to be hospitable. We hope the Government will be increasingly generous in the provision which it makes. We believe many people in our churches will give a heartfelt and generous welcome to those fleeing persecution and hardship and coming to us in great need.
“Please pray for peace and justice and do what you can to contribute to countless individual acts of compassion,” said Bishop Graham.
Full details of these initiatives, with advice and further information on ways, to help are contained on a page on the Diocese of Norwich website

Pictured above are Syrian refugees in front of Budapest railway station earlier this month. Picture courtesy of Mstyslav Chernoc.


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