‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.’
We want to see a society that welcomes the stranger. Migration, whether voluntary or forced, appears in political discussions time and again. As Churches we approach the question of migration first and foremost with the understanding that we are all children of God. We highlight the ongoing plight of refugees and displaced people affirming a human response to the crisis. We emphasise the importance of treating people with decency whatever our immigration policy. This is why as Churches we are calling for an end to the government’s hostile environment policies, for a humane approach to those seeking sanctuary, and for asylum seekers to have the right to work.
The Nationality and Borders Act 2022
In April 2022, The Nationality and Borders Act passed into law. Our Churches campaigned against this bill during its time in parliament, and together we have signed the Anti-Refugee Laws pledge. Together with hundreds of other organisations and charities, we pledge to:
- Defend the right to seek safety from war and persecution in the UK
- Speak out against attempts to criminalise and punish those who make their own way to safety
- Challenge the anti-refugee laws which will risk the lives and well-being of people
- Work towards a refugee protection system that treats all people with dignity and compassion
How can I help refugees coming from Ukraine?
The war in Ukraine has led to millions of people being displaced from their homes. Many of them have been displaced to countries bordering Ukraine, and some have travelled to the UK to seek sanctuary. Our denominations are coordinating responses from communities in the UK, which you can get involved in.
The Methodist Church – Toolkit for responding to the crisis in Ukraine
The Baptist Union of Great Britain – Responding to Ukraine
The United Reformed Church – Crisis in Ukraine response
What can I do to change the way we treat refugees in the UK?
The Nationality and Borders Act represents a major overhaul of the asylum system in the UK, which has led to greater hostility towards refugees. Now that these policies have passed into law, there are different ways we can challenge this approach.
- Get to know your community: Are there refugees and asylum seekers in your community? What support do they need? Holistic, wellbeing focused support is essential for people impacted by the asylum policies in the UK. Find out what support you can offer in your community by partnering with local projects.
- Listen to experts by experience: It is essential that we listen to refugees and asylum seekers when we seek to change the asylum system. Migrants Organise brings together people with lived experience of the asylum system to campaign for change. Click here to find out more about their work and get involved.
- Learn: Find out more about how the asylum policies in the UK are hostile towards people seeking sanctuary here. You can see our work on the asylum system below.
The Right to Work – Asylum seekers in the UK are effectively banned from working. Click here to find out more about the campaign to Lift The Ban.
End Hostility – The ‘hostile environment’ is a web of government policies designed to make life so difficult for people who cannot prove they have the right to live in the UK that they will choose to leave. We are calling for an end to the hostile environment. Click here to find out more about the campaign to End Hostility.
Deportation agreement with Rwanda – In April 2022 the UK Government announced a new deal to send people to Rwanda who cross the channel in order to claim asylum in the UK. Our churches have been vocal in their opposition to this policy.
A welcoming environment – In this context of migration and hostility, churches can play a positive and practical role in creating an environment of welcome and hospitality. Many already do. Click here to read our blog series on a welcoming environment.
Some useful resources for local congregations:
City of Sanctuary – faith groups resources
CTBI Focus on Refugees – practical action