Many of the St Andrew's Church family have asked how we might be able to support refugees arriving locally as they flee the war in Ukraine. It is important that those arriving and those offering to help are well supported, and so we have made the decision to work with Emmaus, who are very experienced in supporting people who are traumatised and have complex needs. Emmaus are working hard to lay good foundations so that they are well prepared before refugees arrive. We are looking for offers of help in the following areas:
Equipment for babies and children
Donation of Smart Phones
You will find a message from the Emmaus team below, and can find out more about the charity here. Please read the message below then reply to Martin Clitheroe at Emmaus, preferably by email email@example.com or phone 07824859389. We continue to hold the people of Ukraine, and of Russia, in our prayers, that Christ's peace may come.
The Team from Emmaus write:
This is an appeal for your help.
Some of you may know of the work done at Emmaus Village Carlton. This charity takes in people who have been homeless or are in danger of homelessness and gives them accommodation, food, help, support, training and the opportunity to carry out meaningful work in the social enterprise shops and bistro on the large site in the village of Carlton.
At the present time Emmaus Village Carlton has spare capacity including a four bedroomed house, a one bedroomed self contained flat and three individual flats which share a bathroom. The Trustees of Emmaus have decided to make these available to Ukrainian refugees. In this endeavour they have joined up with the Chellington Team ministry, part of the Sharnbrook deanery and also the Catholic Parish in Olney where a number of individuals are offering to sponsor refugees to come into their homes.
A small sub-group has been set up to support and take this project forward comprising people from Emmaus, the Chellington Team and the Olney Parish and even after two weeks they have been building up experience and knowhow.
Not all of us are in a position, for whatever reason, to sponsor refugees to come and live in our homes. But all of us, will I am sure, wish to do whatever we can to help those caught up in this terrible war.
The Emmaus team are looking for indications of support and help. The process of sourcing potential refugee families is in its early stages and the process is by no means simple and so at this stage all that the Emmaus team are looking for is an indication of who can help, with what, so that once refugees start arriving they can hit the ground running.
Obviously, if it so happened that anyone spoke Ukranian, possibly Russian and maybe even Polish or German that would be incredibly helpful as we anticipate that many of the guests will not understand any or much English.
Beyond that Carlton is about 11 miles from St Andrews in the middle of the Bedfordshire countryside served by a pretty poor bus service. There will be an obvious need for people who might be prepared to offer to transport. Refugees may need to be taken to Carlton on arrival from Bedford Station or even further afield. They will need to come into Bedford to open bank accounts, register with the Department of Work and Pension, register and visit the dentist and go to the shops. The nearest doctors are in Harrold and again they may need lifts.
Some of those refugees, particularly the ones in the flats at Emmaus itself will not have their own cooking facilities and it may be helpful if people could consider cooking meals.
The Emmaus sub-group has already some experience of the protracted process of applying to sponsor a family but there may be others with computer skills who could help with form filling, claiming benefits and the like.
Whilst the major internet providers have kindly offered free sim cards with data and minutes to refugees some may arrive without mobile phones. There may be those of you who have an old smart phone at the back of some cupboard. These may be very helpful.
We can expect a number of children, of all ages, will arrive with little but the clothes on their back. There will be a need for toys, simple books, play equipment, cots, pushchairs and the like. Perhaps, you may have some of these that you no longer use.
We cannot possibly imagine the times that these people have lived through and the horrors that they may have seen. There may be some of you trained or with experience of dealing with trauma who could offer a helping hand and a listening ear to those who are in need.
Some of you might want to befriend a refugee family, invite them into your homes, show them around?
And very probably there are things that might be really useful which the Emmaus sub-group have not even yet thought of.
We all live busy lives and if you are able to offer any help it may only be occasional or for a short time. No offer of help will be too small to be thankfully accepted
At this stage all the sub-group are wishing to do is to establish a database of possible helpers outlining the help or skills that may be on offer. Once the refugees have been found it will then make it so much easier. as various needs arise, to find the people to help without any delay.
The sub-group already feel that through the work they have done they have built up a body of experience and knowledge and whilst their priority must be the project in hand they firmly intend to make that knowledge available to the wider community so that if you, or people you know, are daunted by the prospect of sponsoring a refugee family the sub-group hope they will be able to offer help and support
And it, perhaps, goes without saying that all of you can help by remembering in your prayers the people of Ukraine, those who may be frightened and apprehensive as they step into the unknown and seek to come to this country as refuges and also all those who are seeking to help them by acting as hosts (who in their own ways may also be apprehensive) or helping in other ways.