Bishop’s Christmas Appeal for Asylum Seekers and Refugees


This Christmas, I am again making a special appeal on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees. Due to Herod’s threat of violence, the Holy Family lived as refugees and sought sanctuary in Egypt. As we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, I ask you to consider the children and families today who have been forced to flee from their homes and seek sanctuary in our Diocese.

Donations will be divided equally between two charities working with asylum seekers and refugees in Newcastle and North Tyneside: the West End Refugee Service (WERS) and ‘Walking With’.

For the last nineteen years, an important part of the work of WERS has been the support of destitute asylum seekers. Currently, WERS is supporting 131 destitute clients with a £10 weekly payment from the hardship fund. Unfortunately, the payment had to be dropped from £15 due to an increase in need and a limited fund. Other support provided by WERS incudes the provision of clothing from the WERS store, toiletries and Food Bank vouchers where possible, help accessing other services and regular appointments with WERS support staff.

The Walking With project in North Tyneside has supported over 250 people in the last year from many different countries. It has continued to offer support tailored to the individual needs of its clients: mostly emotional and practical. It provides food parcels, hardship funds, and lessons in English, as well as running chess, Yoga, and cooking events. Walking With is the lead organisation for the care and support of the 11 Syrian families who have arrived in North Tyneside on the Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme.

The vast majority of destitute asylum seekers remain in an impossibly difficult state of limbo for long periods of time, during which their health, both physical and mental sadly continues to deteriorate. WERS and Walking With provide them with safe spaces where they can be assured of a warm welcome, someone to talk to and someone who has time to listen – all things which are just as important as the financial and practical help.

Cheques made payable to ‘Newcastle Diocesan Board of Finance’ should be sent to Mrs Lesley Hillary at Church House, St John’s Terrace, Percy Main, North Shields, NE29 6HS. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

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