We Need Your Help
We are currently in the middle of the biggest humanitarian crisis in a generation. Millions of people are displaced and seeking sanctuary; the images we see on our screens are heartbreaking.
Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes (RWMK) have made huge progress responding to the Syrian crisis. Five families arrived in MK in 2016 and we are hoping to welcome six more this year. But we need your help. You can:
- volunteer for the British Red Cross. They have the contract for resettlement work in Milton Keynes with a wide range of voluntary roles available (see www.redcross.org.uk and our own list of British Red Cross roles in MK at rwmk.org.uk/volunteer).
- raise money to provide grants for essential things the families need.
- raise awareness. There is a lot of negative talk in the press about refugees. We need people who are willing to speak out about the contribution refugees make to society.
- take on a house. Our ‘Just One House’ scheme is central to the way we help our refugee families. A group of people (possibly a company, church or mosque) take on responsibility for preparing a house for a refugee family – and get to know that family as they settle in. We already have six groups lined up for 2017, but we will need teams for 2018 (see ‘Just One House’ Teams below).
- join our talks team. Tell schools, companies and local groups about our work for refugees.
- help us with our administration and organisation. We desperately need you – there’s a lot to do.
Contact email@example.com if you can help with any of the above.
We’ll respond positively to every offer of help, but we must limit our work to the things that we know will make a difference – and that we are actually able to achieve. This can be frustrating because we can see how much good will there is in our city, but there are limits to what is possible. Keep following the newsletter and we’ll let you know when opportunities arise.
The General Election
When David Cameron made the commitment to extend the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, he said the UK would resettle “up to 20,000 refugees by the end of this Parliament” and then supplemented this scheme with 3,000 “children at risk” due to also be resettled directly from the region. Because of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, people assumed this meant 2020; however the snap election now calls this commitment into question. The incoming Government could choose to scrap the scheme with immediate effect.
Currently, even if the incoming Government agrees to continue the existing resettlement commitment until 2020, that still leaves two more years before the end of the Parliament (2022). This is an opportunity for the incoming government to demonstrate Britain’s global leadership and continue to build on the strong commitments already made.
UNHCR estimates that the number of people in need of resettlement globally in 2017 is 1.19 million. They suggest that the UK could expand its commitment to at least 10,000 refugees a year and consolidate the various programmes into one flexible scheme which provides a safe and legal option for refugees of many different nationalities according to need.
On our web site we provide links to some very useful non-partisan background documents produced by Safepassage, a project of Citizens UK, with a collection of frequently asked questions about refugees pertinent to the imminent General Election, as well as ideas for questions to ask all candidates. To view or download these documents, please visit www.rwmk.org.uk/general-election-2017
Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes (RWMK) is committed to help the people of Milton Keynes welcome more refugees over the coming years. We will work with politicians (from all parties) to make this happen. It is important to raise questions about refugees during the election, and then build positive relationships with people who can help us achieve our goals.
Also relevant to the forthcoming General Election, and as a way to demonstrate commitment to the values of justice, inclusion, and welcome, Citizens:mk are organising a Great Big Get Together on Friday June 16th. This will be an Iftar meal (breaking a fast). We hope that a number of politicians (including the new MPs for Milton Keynes) will be there. It will be an opportunity to reflect on the way Milton Keynes can develop as a Just, Inclusive and Welcoming community, and speak up for the needs of refugees. Please visit greatgettogether.eventbrite.co.uk to book tickets.
Storage Space Urgently Needed
Our ‘Just One House’ teams desperately need lockable, clean and dry storage areas in or near Milton Keynes, each one about the size of a small garage, and available free of charge for several months from June 2017. Do you know anyone not using their garage who might let us have it for storing household furniture and effects? Or a business that might have space available in one of their offices or warehouses? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Vote of Thanks to our ‘Just One House’ Teams
We are delighted to be working with the following organisations on our ‘Just One House’ project this year (see rwmk.org.uk/donate/#house). A big thank you to all those involved! Each of these teams collects items needed to welcome a refugee family into their new home:
- St Mark’s Church Milton Keynes: leader, Nina Castree.
- Stony Stratford Community Church: leader, Anne Day.
- David Lock Associates: leader, Caroline Brown.
- Sri Sathya Sai International Organisation: leader, Survana Moody.
- MK Muslim Association: leader, Rukhsana Malik.
- Watling Valley Church Partnership: leader, Rozi Rowcroft James.
‘Just One House’ Teams 2018
We are interested in recruiting new teams for next year but are unable to confirm precise timing and numbers until we receive those details from MK Council. For a general description of the programme please see rwmk.org.uk/donate/#house
Community Sponsorship of Refugees
At our last Supporters’ Meeting we heard from Bekele Woyecha about a new scheme for welcoming refugees known as ‘Community Sponsorship’. This involves local community groups taking on direct responsibility for supporting a refugee family during their arrival and integration. The trustees of RWMK are keen to explore this idea because we think it will enable us to extend and develop our options for welcoming refugees into Milton Keynes.
A concert on 30 April in aid of the British Red Cross, Syrian Refugee fund, raised £282.50. Organised by ipeace at Age UK Peartree Centre, it featured Syrian singers and backing group, delightfully assisted by their children who sang the choruses, and popular western music from the Free Peace Band. There were cakes and soft drinks for sale and a raffle.
If you are organising a fund-raising event for this fund, or for Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes, please send us details well in advance for inclusion in our next newsletter.
Next Supporters’ Meeting: 20 June, 8PM
The next supporters’ meeting will be on 20 June – World Refugee Day in World Refugee Week – 8:00pm at St Augustine’s Church, Langcliffe Drive, Heelands, MK13 7PL. If coming by car, enter Heelands from V7; at the T-junction turn left; pass the boarded up public house on the left and the church driveway is immediately ahead.
In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. It started in 1998 as a positive response to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers. For more information, see our own RWMK Events Page or the national Refugee Week site.