Ealing Abbey LENTEN PROJECT
The JESUIT REFUGEE SERVICE UK
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation, operating in over 50 countries worldwide. Our mission is to accompany, serve as companions, and advocate on behalf of refugees, or forced migrants.
JRS UK works specifically with refugees who have been detained or made destitute by the asylum process. JRS UK is based in Wapping, London, where we run a Day Centre for destitute refugees.
The work of JRS is based on the principles of hospitality and carried out in a spirit of compassion and solidarity, encouraging participation and community, aiming to give hope, justice and dignity to refugees and forced migrants. As a work of the Society of Jesus, we draw on the charism and principles of Ignatian spirituality, which affirms that God is present in human history, even in the most tragic episodes
Walking humbly alongside forced migrants lies at the heart of the JRS mission and is an essential ingredient of our service to and advocacy for refugees. It is based on the belief that encounter, mutual relationship and community are fundamental to human flourishing; the solid foundation upon which to support and assist, in practical ways, those who seek refuge in the UK.
“JRS gives me visitors. They are helping me very much. A month ago, I was very stressed. In detention, you don’t know if you’re going to be released at some point, or deported. One of my visitors brings me movies, it helps to relieve my stress.” Paul, detainee
In Detention – Detainees struggle with isolation from the “outside world”, not knowing how long their detention will last and in fear of deportation. Each one needs help to cope with anxiety and emotional strain. Our team of volunteers provides one-to-one visits and staff are on site to offer pastoral care. We contribute to chaplaincy teams accessed by detainees of all faiths. In the women’s unit, we have delivered specially tailored relaxation and stress management programmes.
At our Day Centre – Whilst having little control over whether they will be granted leave to remain, or whether they will be deported tomorrow or even where they will be sleeping, each person needs to retain their sense of identity, an ability to make choices and find positive ways to use their time and talents. Using ideas and suggestions offered during consultation with our refugee friends, we have set up peer support groups for men and women, creative writing and photography workshops for self-expression. Several families have enjoyed day trips and help with education.
Spiritual Companioning – Helping people view their life from a spiritual perspective is one that is rarely referred to in the midst of interviews, filling in forms and adapting to customs of a new culture. Faith, prayer and an intimate relationship with God are part of the rich inner resources that many refugees bring with them from their country of origin. Frequently this carries them through times of chaos and confusion. Meeting a companion in a safe environment allows the participants not only to tell the story of the unfolding of their lives, but to share their concerns and pray with others in similar circumstances
At Home Hosting Scheme JRS accompanies forced migrants from around the world. Some seek sanctuary in the UK and so enter the asylum process. During the process, basic statutory support and accommodation is offered, usually outside of London. If the asylum application is turned down, all support including accommodation is withdrawn. Although refused refuge, many individuals and families remain. ‘At Home’ is the name given to the JRS hosting scheme launched in November 2012. Through it we aim to match individuals, families and religious communities that can offer short-term accommodation in their households or communities to destitute asylum seekers in need of respite.
In Detention – Understanding the challenges faced by refugees, asylum seekers and forced migrants calls us to respond with meaningful solutions. We offer practical assistance to those we accompany, responding to the individual’s needs, whether they find themselves destitute or detained under immigration rules.
Detainees need practical help with communication: securing referrals to specialist services for their health and keeping in touch with family and friends. Our legal liaison service facilitates better communications between stressed detainees and busy solicitors. Our weekly presence in the detention centres provides ‘surgeries’ to respond holistically to individual needs. We provide mobile phone top-ups each month and the offer of a pen-befriender.
At our Day Centre – Those who come to see us are often struggling with homelessness or hunger. They are surviving without cash whilst dealing with stress or trauma due to their experience of destitution and the uncertainties of their situation, as well as isolation and separation from family back home.
We provide travel money to access critical legal and medical appointments, emergency mini-grants for newly destitute individuals and a healthy lunch each week. Our weekly Day Centre is a safe space to rest, get referrals to key services and meet friends over a cup of tea or coffee. Each month we give out over 150 toiletry packs and in winter we distribute coats and food parcels.
Advocacy at JRS UK
JRS UK advocates for the rights of refugees. Advocacy in JRS starts by listening to refugees’ concerns and then working with them to find solutions. Our advocacy involves:
- Raising awareness of policy issues that shape refugees’ lives and experience. We conduct and publish policy research and contribute to public policy consultations and advocacy campaigns, working with other organisations, faith-based and secular, to bring about a more just world;
- Trying to create space where people can encounter refugees as whole people with hopes and dreams, interests and gifts, just like any other; and seek to encourage authentic human relationships to grow;
- Helping to transform the public conversation about refugees, exposing the real stories about their lives, including the hardships that they face in the UK, especially during the period they are seeking asylum. We believe it is vital that refugees’ own voices are at the heart of this conversation.
Policy at JRS UK We advocate on behalf of those we accompany and serve, and we do so with their participation. For this reason, our advocacy at JRS UK focuses on issues relating to detention and destitution, as these are the focus of our services.JRS UK
advocate for policies that protect refugees and allow them to flourish. Much of
|JRS Lent Appeal – FUNDRAISING EVENTS
· Parish Lunch and raffle. Sunday 11th March, Tickets on sale in bookshop. Vegetarian option available.
· Sponsored BIG Walk – ‘around the world’ (25,000 Miles) for refugees (ongoing throughout Lent, details to come).
· Sponsored BIG Swim – 40,000metres (25 Miles – ongoing throughout Lent, details to come)
· JRS speak about hosting ‘At Home’ plus International food fair. Date to be confirmed. Details to come
Please look on the triptych board in the bookshop porch for more information and updates on our Appeal. Any ideas of your own for fundraising? Please speak with Maggi or Krysia in the parish office. Thank you
our current policy and advocacy work focuses around challenging the ‘hostile environment agenda’.