A number of people have asked for more information on what they can do locally in response to the refugee crisis. Here are a few options. It’s not a prescriptive list, mererly a few ideas from different sources:
1. Theological: The Council of Faiths in MK have discussed the issue and have a common mind. It’s important for Christians to speak from their own tradition. This would actually be welcomed and appreciated by our neighbours from other faiths. We can affirm that all people are made in God’s image and that everyone should be treated with respect, dignity and compassion. We should also remind people that Jesus turned the values of this world upside down – prioritising the poor and marginalised.
2. Practical: Many people would like to give clothing and other items for the refugees. The best place to send these would be the MK Storehouse in Stacey Bushes (http://www.mkstorehouse.org/). On Wednesday 9th they will be opening specifically to sort clothes for the refugees. They will be open from 9am until 5pm and then from 7pm until 10pm. They would appreciate donations of clothing but would also welcome volunteers (contact email@example.com if you want to help). On Thursday a team from MK Storehouse will be driving from Milton Keynes to Calais or the distribution points in London to distribute the clothes to those most in need. Anything left over will be given to appropriate people in MK.
3. Political: Milton Keynes Council is discussing a motion about refugees on the 16th September. They would welcome letters of support from members of the public, and it may be helpful for a few people to attend. See http://milton-keynes.cmis.uk.com/milton-keynes/Councillors.aspx to find out who your local councillors are.
4. Prayer: Please pray for those who are vulnerable and dispossed – not just from Syria but from the world – and don’t forget homeless or disadvantaged people in this country. They could easily be forgotten while public atention is focussed elsewhere. There is a vigil for refugees this evening in London (http://www.citizensuk.org/refugeeswelcome_vigil) but you may like to light a few candles here.
5. Think Long Term: The issue of immigration and asylum seekers is not a new one and it will continue to be a matter for debate and discussion. Our city is very diverse and includes a broad range of different communities who are affected by the language used by politicians and the media. If your parish or church hasn’t joined CitizensMK yet then that may be worth thinking about (see http://www.citizensmk.org.uk/ or contact Tom.Bulman@citizensuk.org ) . It’s a good way of working with other communities for the common good. CitizensMK has also started a new project specifically focussed on Weaving Trust between our different communities.
6. Financial: A few churches have already given money to existing charities like Tearfund who are already dealing with refugees. This is probably the best thing to do. A specific fund has also been set up by CitizensUK, Avaaz and 38 Degrees for Syrian refugees in the UK (see https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2015/09/07/refugees-chip-in-for-the-survival-fund/).