We are facing the largest displacement of people ever recorded; the UN refugee agency said at the end of 2014 that the total number of people forcibly displaced by war, conflict and persecution rose to 59.5 million (including 38.2 million internally displaced in their own countries). Its Global Trends report: World at War, said that if the number of displaced persons formed a nation, it would be the 24th largest country in the world. To give us some perspective, the population of England recorded in the 2011 census was a little over 53 million people.
I can’t even fathom such numbers. How do we respond?
A group of residents, community groups, workers and faith groups in the Borough of Merton have joined together to encourage the people in the Borough of Merton to be welcoming to refugees, collate and disseminate information on ways to support them, and to work with existing schemes in their efforts to support refugees in Merton.
Their website, Merton Welcomes Refugees, lists a number of ways in which we can get involved, including:
1) Buying an oyster card with some money on it for asylum seekers and refugees. See here for more information.
2) Joining existing schemes like Merton Asylum Welcome Drop-In, or fostering unaccompanied under 18 year olds with Merton Fostering, volunteer English tutoring with Merton Home Tutoring Service.
5) Specific volunteer opportunities with Christian Care
Their Facebook page, Merton Residents supporting refugees, is well worth ‘liking’ as they list one-off opportunities to help practically, such as providing short-term accommodation, finding work experience placements, or attending a fundraising event to provide solar lights to refugees in Calais (this is on Thursday 10 December, see the page for more details!).
One small but significant way to help is to volunteer at a Christmas party on Friday 11 December for the 30 refugee families and all the unaccompanied minors in the Merton Borough. The party will be at the Morden Baptist Church and they are currently looking for volunteers to greet people, share a meal with them as hosts, or help set up or tidy up, or prep food the night before under a chef’s supervision. If you can’t attend they will also be looking for donations of funds to cover the cost of the meal or donations of mince pies, yule logs, etc! You can contact us for more information if you want to join the team going!