Why is The Salvation Army supporting refugees?
The plight of refugees has become a serious issue and as the crisis across Europe has developed we have become even further convinced that our organisation must be there for people in need. We live in a global world where everyone is our neighbour – The Salvation Army across the continent is doing what it can to help those who need our support, and this activity is being reflected here in the UK.
We are committed to transforming the lives of the most marginalised people in society whether that’s people born here in the UK or refugees who are fleeing war and have been through traumatic experiences and are very vulnerable.
We do not judge anyone, and oppose any discrimination, marginalisation or persecution of any person. Anyone who comes to The Salvation army will receive assistance based solely on their need and our capacity to provide help.
What are we doing to support them?
A growing number of our Salvation Army officers are identifying local needs and are working with their local authorities and community groups to look at ways we can support with longer term solutions for families escaping war in countries such as Syria. A new team is coordinating our practical and spiritual assistance to help refugees across the country. In London for example we are looking at ways we can provide accommodation for some refugee families from Syria whether through working with local councils or the Home Office through the Community Sponsorship Programme.
In the UK many of our churches help refugees living in their communities on an individual basis. Many of our members are eager to get involved and do what they can to offer help and sanctuary to those fleeing conflict.
The Salvation Army also works with and alongside refugees around the world, with several programmes currently taking place in a number of African countries and across Europe. More information can be found here.
What is The Salvation Army doing to support child refugees?
We are committed to social justice for the most marginalised people in society and are concerned for the welfare of child refugees many of whom are fleeing war and have been through traumatic experiences and are very vulnerable. In the UK we have worked with authorities to provide welcome and compassionate support to children coming to the UK from Calais. For example, in Cardiff we supported the local authority in offering temporary accommodation and in London we also supported two local authorities in offering temporary accommodation for child refugees as well as providing a location for refugee children to reunite with their families in the UK.
What is the Community Sponsorship scheme?
Community Sponsorship is a government scheme which aims to help community groups become involved in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable people fleeing conflict. The Salvation Army has been involved with the Home Office in helping to shape the Community Sponsorship initiative and we welcomed our first sponsored family under this scheme early in 2017.
We work with victims of modern slavery and operate a network of safe houses and outreach support for adult victims across the country in England and Wales under a government contract. Through this work we have seen increased numbers of victims from war-torn countries being trafficked into modern slavery – people who have escaped the horrors of conflict in their own countries looking for hope in another. These people are so vulnerable and desperate that they make easy prey for traffickers. The Community Sponsorship Scheme means that people in need will be assisted with a safe journey to the UK from their country of origin, thus helping ensure they do not fall prey to the exploitation of traffickers, and that can only be commended.
Is The Salvation Army best-placed to offer Community Sponsorship?
Community Sponsorship gives ordinary people the opportunity to offer care, compassion, and demonstrate what British hospitality looks like. Many of our Salvation Army churches (corps) are ready and willing to offer that kind of support as we have always done to those facing difficult times.
Community Sponsorship complements the ongoing government resettlement schemes and provides added value over and above what the government can achieve on its own. It gives those who know their communities best the opportunity to resettle refugees and support them into their new home.
The criteria for a successful application ensure that all groups receiving Home Office approval have charitable status, appropriate funds, a robust resettlement plan and a strong safeguarding framework for all personnel. Successful sponsors will work closely with their local authority, NHS trust, and organisations with added expertise where necessary. We believe that community sponsorship unlocks the potential and resources of local people helping to ensure faster integration in communities.
We have congratulated the government on committing to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of this parliament. The people of the United Kingdom – including The Salvation Army – have a proud tradition of welcoming refugees to our shores at a time of need. However, the work of welcoming people into communities can never simply be the work of government. It requires the expertise, knowledge, networks, and hospitality of people in host communities for those seeking sanctuary to truly find their feet and make a new home.
How is it funded?
Fundraising for Community Sponsorship is undertaken by the local community group that wishes to make an application. So in The Salvation Army’s case – the local Salvation Army church and community centre (corps) that wish to make an application. Funds are raised by members and private individuals.