Refugee Week 2024 is taking place from 17 to 23 June and the theme this year is ‘Our Home‘. During Refugee Week we are encouraged to extend our warmth and hospitality beyond our own homes and make entire neighbourhoods more welcoming. Simple acts like having a chat, walking together, or sending a message of welcome can help everyone feel like they belong. Together, we can work in solidarity to ensure all our neighbours, new and familiar, have safe and welcoming homes. At the Refugee Project, we will be celebrating Refugee Week jointly with the SVP with activities planned for our clients.

The Diocese is also hosting an event to welcome and celebrate refugees, asylum seekers and migrants at St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday 18 June at 6.30pm. This event will bring together people of different nationalities who make their home in the North East of England and there will be an opportunity to listen to people’s stories, celebrate their talents and recognise that we are better off when we welcome strangers and make them our friends. During the event Bishop Stephen will receive, on behalf of the whole Diocese, a Lampedusa Cross donated by CAFOD. This will then be housed in the cathedral as a sign of our commitment and welcome to those who are enriching life in our Diocese. Everyone is welcome to join in this celebration.

During Refugee Week this year, please consider donating food, toiletries and finance which are all very much needed. We continue to support over 500 individuals and families and we could not provide this support without your generous donations. Deprived of the right to work, people seeking asylum in the UK face a continuous struggle to meet their most fundamental needs. A further challenge for our clients is the difficultly in affording the data and credit they need and volunteers are often asked if the project can provide SIM cards. Asylum Matters completed a survey in November 2023 and found 58% of asylum seekers could not afford the credit and data they need – People seeking asylum need access to a phone and the internet to stay connected with family and to engage in daily life in the UK. It is crucial for things like speaking to lawyers, making appointments, accessing support and supporting pupils with homework. We are incredibly grateful to organisations who occasionally donate SIM cards to the project and we are currently researching ways that we can access SIM cards from charitable organisations for our clients, as they are very much in demand.

We continue to develop links with other agencies so that we can signpost our clients for support and advice. Many clients have been referred to the Recyke charity recently so that they can access bicycles which help them to travel more easily and cheaply. Many clients are also currently being advised by Reed in Partnership on accessing employment and training.

The project was delighted to win a £1,000 grant from Coca Cola through Neighbourly, a giving platform that helps businesses make a positive impact in their communities by donating volunteer time, money and surplus products. This grant is to purchase sanitary products for asylum seeking women. We are also grateful to The Good News Church who have also donated resources for our female clients.

We continue to rely on the generosity of individuals and parishes for donations for which we are incredibly grateful. Items most urgently needed can be found here.

We are thankful for and continue to rely on your generous financial support for our work. Details of our bank account (DHN Justice & Peace Refugee Project) can be found on our webpage. Please consider Gift-Aiding your donation, if possible, it makes a big difference. You can donate online (simply select the Gift Aid option when completing the online form) or download and submit a Gift-Aid Declaration form for a single or multiple donation. Visit our Donate and Gift Aid page now.

For more details about our work and how you can assist, please contact our Project Co-ordinator by email: jp.refugeeproject@diocesehn.org.uk or visit our webpage.

Our task must be to free ourselves – by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty

Albert Einstein