Journal 7.xii.21

S. Ambrosii Episcopi Confessoris et Ecclesiæ Doctoris
Commemoratio: Feria III infra Hebdomadam II Adventus

Today ✠Jerome met with Council officers from The Communities Equality & Third Sector Team and members of BHFA to discuss a solution to housing and ongoing support for people “without recourse to public funds” after the Government’s COVID Winter Grant Scheme funding to support vulnerable households expires in March 2022.

Firmly in the spirit of the Faith Covenant signed between the faith community and the City Council in 2018, the discussion was positive and encouraging. Though “the ask” is a big one, to support those not entitled to Benefits and statutory support for an indefinite period. Those who need help include asylum seekers waiting for determination on their cases, EU citizens awaiting a decision on their status in the UK and those initially refused “leave to remain” but appealing the decision.

The faith community is already providing direct assistance to refugees and asylum seekers with the provision of food, clothing and shelter working with the Home Office to resettle Afghani’s following the USA withdrawal from Afghanistan. Likewise the faith groups are already operating housing schemes supporting individuals and families, some on a long term basis. The charity Green Pastures is already partnered with a few churches locally to provide accomodation, while congregations provide oversight, mentoring, provisioning and emotional support.

It was suggested that Support Workers build a profile of needs for individuals, including their culture or faith background, so that they may be matched with relevant or appropriate ethnic/faith communities for support. The city’s Jewish and Muslim communities already support refugees from the Middle East and Africa, and many churches are engaged and willing to be further involved in assisting this demographic. The local charity Voices in Exile experienced in working with refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants with no recourse to public funds was identified as a potential partner in delivering support as well.

The Council Officers expressed their thanks to the members of the faith community present for their initial positive response and for their contribution already to tackling homelessness and supporting the vulnerable in the city. Faith members thanked the officers for the opportunity to meet and invitation to discuss this new problem and for including them in the research and possible provision of solutions.

To be continued…

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