Healing in a time of conflict and crisis sounds impossible. But in so many ways it’s a crucial theme for this year’s Refugee Week, which is coming soon from 18-26th June.
Right now we’re seeing a growing number of Ukrainian families arrive in Oxfordshire every week. At Asylum Welcome we’re leading the programme of help and support that the Ukrainian families need, and we’re helping host families too in providing the right support for their new guests. But this added workload means a greater demand on our services, and a considerable rise in our costs.
This Refugee Week, the theme of healing celebrates the human ability to start again. Healing means recovering from a painful experience or situation, so that we can continue to live. No-one understands this better than those who have lost their homes and have had to build new lives from scratch. Those going through the asylum system also know that healing is an ongoing process, made harder by poverty, housing difficulties and the threat of being detained or deported.
With all these additional numbers of people turning to us for help, we woud like to ask if you could mark Refugee Week yourself by making a special donation in support of Oxford’s asylum seeker and refugee community at this difficult time? Our workload has grown enormously in the last year.
Most Ukrainians that we’re seeing are deeply traumatised by the war in their home country – families broken apart by conflict, homes destroyed, friends or relatives killed or missing while fighting continues around them in their beloved country. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact across Europe. The UK Government system has been painfully slow and cumbersome in its response, but the public reaction has been remarkable, with so many families happy to help in offering accommodation and support to enable the healing process to commence.
Only recently we’ve been helping Anichka* who found accommodation in Oxfordshire, and Asylum Welcome is playing a vital role in her support.
Anichka comes from Kharkiv, close to the Russian border, which is now partially destroyed after heavy bombardment. She is here with her two children – they hid for 25 days underground in a bunker, shielding from the constant, daily bombing and eventually managed to escape. Her husband is still in Ukraine providing humanitarian assistance. He is driving around Ukraine whilst bombs are constantly falling from the skies. The fear that he may be killed or injured at any point is a constant source of extreme anxiety.
Anichka’ s hope is for the war to finish as quickly as possible so she and her children can go back to their family, to their country, to the home that her children love so much and talk about every day. Since arriving in Oxford, she says “All people have been very kind. All people are helping us without any questions, with language courses, with community support, with money. This is a very big help now because we don’t have any jobs, we don’t have any money and we have children who need to eat.”
You can see that this growth in our work at Asylum Welcome is hugely challenging, and whilst we will do whatever we can to support each and every person that comes to our door we rely on the support of our donors to maintain, and indeed extend, the work we are doing.
All of this comes at a time when the Government has taken the notion of ‘hostile environment’ to even lower depths. Now enshrined in law, the Government seeks to send as many asylum seekers and refugees as possible, four thousand miles away to Rwanda – a country with a terrible record of human rights, and no clear evidence yet that it can become a safe home for immigrants. As Lord Alf Dubs pointed out... it is nothing less than “state-sponsored trafficking”.
If you can help us now, we can assure you that your support will help us provide essential services to those asylum seekers and refugees we support every day through our foodbank, our legal advice team, our youth projects, our education and employment programme and our Welcome Desk, now all fully functioning post-Covid and seeing a marked increase in demand.
If you have not already, would you consider making your donation a standing order? This really helps us plan for the future.
Your help enables healing in a very practical sense here in Oxfordshire, where demand for our services is greater than ever.
With kind regards and immense gratitude for any help you can provide at this time,
All at Asylum Aelcome