Refugee Week 2024: Reflections on ‘Our Home’

This year we celebrated Refugee Week during a time of tremendous increase in conflicts and protracted humanitarian crises. Pope Francis’ prayer intention for June is for migrants fleeing their homes and this Refugee Week we prayed for those forced to flee and those who lost their lives whilst seeking sanctuary, whilst also celebrating those who have made the UK their home.

This year’s theme for Refugee Week was ‘Our Home’. Home means may things to many people, whether it be a place, a smell, a person, or food. Our members celebrated Refugee Week with their refugee friends who have made their new communities home.

As Catholics, our response to refugees is rooted in the innate worth of each human person (Love the Stranger, Principle 1). This Refugee Week we encouraged the Catholic community to reflect on Love the Stranger which outlines 24 principles as the Catholic response to migrants and refugees. The document calls on to action both the Catholic community and the Government – whilst recognising states’ right to control their borders, it reinforces their responsibility to promote the common good of those within their borders and uphold their obligations to the wider world, encouraging a warm welcome for those who come to our country, as is our Christian duty.

To celebrate Refugee Week 2024, our members held a number of events in the lead up to and during Refugee Week. We have provided a summary of events below, but to learn more about each individual member, please visit their respective websites.

Caritas Westminster: Wisdom from a Journey to a Good Life

Ahead of refugee Week, we joined Caritas Westminster to celebrate their Wisdoms report. The Wisdoms report amplifies the voices of refugees and migrants in asking them ‘what does a good life mean to you?’. The report is insightful and moving, highlighting the importance of community, of family, and of kindness, as well as the strength taken to leave one’s home.

On the day we heard from a Syrian lady who was resettled to the UK via the Community Sponsorship scheme. She reflected on the generous support of her community sponsorship group, The Sutton Deanery Refugee Community Sponsorship Group, who helped her family in every way, from finding a comfortable home for them to finding an Arabic speaking doctor and accompanying them to the job centre. They were welcomed by the group and the wider community, who together helped them to rebuild their lives and futures.

We also heard from some students at Newman Catholic college who reflected on the importance of good friends and friendly spaces, which they have found in their school.

There are many valuable points in the Wisdoms Report which we encourage all to reflect on

You can read the Wisdoms report in full online:

Home Office Prayer Vigil

The Diocese of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission holds a monthly prayer vigil to remember those who died on our shores as they sought sanctuary. This month, the vigil was held during Refugee Week and Bishop Paul, Lead Bishop for Migrants & Refugees, was present alongside Fr Joe Ryan.

We remembered those who lost their lives in June 2023 whilst seeking sanctuary, including the 600+ lives lost in just one day. Fr Joe spoke of the need to sow seeds of hope and offer a welcome to migrants and refugees, inspired by Pope Fracis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate. He highlighted how our nation is one of compassion and it is the spirit of welcome we need to highlight rather than one of fear.

Prayers were led by Brother Johannes Maertens from London Catholic Worker, and he was joined by a group of students from Newman Catholic School in Harlesden, who prayed for the lives lost on their journey to safety, those continuing to suffer conflict and persecution, and those residing in refugee camps, as well as those in the UK who continue to suffer a hostile system.

You can join the monthly prayer vigil every third Monday of the month.

Image: ICN X

JRS UK London Legal Walk

Each year the London Legal Walk takes place, bringing together law firms, organisations and charities to walk 10km across London to raise funds for not-for-profit and legal aid providers. JRS UK is one such provider who has its own Legal Aid project, delivering free legal advice and representation to their refugee friends who are fighting to resolve their immigration status and rebuild their lives in the UK.

Legal aid provides a vital service for many vulnerable individuals, including refugees and migrants. Through their project, JRS UK have secured leave to remain for 46 individuals since the inception of their programme in 2019. Thus far they have raised £2,058 for their project, but it is not too late to donate and help them meet their target of £2,500 – these funds will allow them to continue to support many more refugee friends given the ongoing hostile environment in the UK. You can donate via their fundraising page:

SJOG Homes for Ukraine

Together with St John of God Hospitaller services (SJOG), we launched the Homes for Ukraine matching service in October 2021. We have since matched 135 Ukrainian guests with generous hosts across the UK. As the project comes to an end this July, we gathered with colleagues as well as some of the guests and hosts the team have supported, to celebrate the successes of the project.

You can learn more about the project via the SJOG website:

CSAN Statement & Video

As part of Refugee Week, CSAN published a statement encouraging the Catholic community to reflect on Love The Stranger and how we may fulfil our obligation in the way that God intends, whilst calling upon our political leaders to do the same. You can read the statement in full online:

The statement was endorsed by Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees:

CSAN also published a short message from our CEO for World Refugee Day, which you can watch in full on X:

We have also published a new worksheet as part of our Do Justice campaign, highlighting the impact of hateful rhetoric and listing how individuals and communities can get involved to support refugees in their community:

If you have any stories to share from your Refugee Week celebrations, you can do so via our contact page: