12 August 2016
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus has made the global refugee crisis a priority for prayer and action.
The Society’s European Province is using some funds from a recent sale of property in Preston, England, to fund projects that work with migrants. One of these is Revive, a community project that provides free practical support, services and advocacy for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Anne Stewart, SHCJ, has had a long relationship with Revive.
For years Stewart ran “schools of participation”, which are six-month-long training programs that gives confidence to refugees to get involved in civics and civil life as Revive works to get their situations resolved. She also created a public form where they could have their voices heard by the statutory authorities and be represented in key public bodies.
“When refugees and asylum-seekers were sent to Salford, a poor working class community, people were frightened that they would take their jobs. So we were anxious to build relationships between the local community and people coming from abroad,” she said. Many refugees had no status, no money in England, and had traumatic experiences in war.
Revive runs activities to keep their clients positive and encouraged as they wait for their court statuses. (Sometimes they are not allowed to work.) They get involved with volunteer activities so they have a reason to get up, learn the language, and get to know more people.
Stewart began her ministry in 2005, and now “the complexity of their situations is the same as ever,” she said. “People’s needs have not changed, but there are a lot more services that people can access. We now have asylum-seekers and refugees on key decision-making bodies in Salford and Manchester.” People from countries who were targets of hate crimes now sit on advisory bodies in relation to crime, housing, health and education. And it’s not just to talk about their experiences, Stewart said, but rather to offer solutions on what would help.
Revive is “one of the most pioneering groups,” she said.
The donation from the Society will allow for an experienced social worker to stay on the job for the next three years.
The Society also donated proceeds from its Preston property sale to Talk English, a small, parish-based project in Preston which, as its name suggests, helps migrants learn to speak English.
The province is also making donations to the International Refugee Trust (for Syrian refugees in Jordan) and the Cardinal Hume Centre (to work with unaccompanied migrant minors).