Churches in London publish stories of welcoming refugees

Caritas Westminster, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster, together with the Anglican Dioceses of London and Southwark, released a new booklet and short videos for Refugee Week 2022, to celebrate parishes’ welcomes to people seeking sanctuary through the UK asylum system.

Among the videos is a feature from St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater. This Catholic parish has welcomed guests, largely with no recourse to public funds, through the Jesuit Refugee Service’s ‘At Home’ Scheme. Parish priest, Mrg Keith Barltrop, said:

‘I find it very enriching to be a refugee host…If you think you can do it, I would say it’s an extremely worthwhile thing to do; it’s a tremendous opportunity.’

Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Rt. Rev. Paul McAleenan, the Bishop of Stepney, Rt. Rev. Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell, and the Bishop of Southwark, Rt. Rev. Christopher Chessun, issued a joint statement on the launch of the resource:

‘People arriving in our churches seeking sanctuary have many different reasons to be there and different stories to tell. We welcome them all and seek to show them God’s love.’

At an event to mark publication of the resources, refugee Maimuna Jawo spoke about how alienating and hard it was to be in the asylum system. She asserted that all she and other people seeking sanctuary want is freedom.