WELCOMING THE STRANGER
INTRODUCTION: Each year thousands of asylum seekers, fleeing persecution in their own countries, come as strangers to seek refuge in the United Kingdom. By the summer of 2005 a number of churches in Bradford were finding asylum seekers in their congregations. Not only did these newcomers enrich the worship and fellowship of those congregations but local people and ministers began to discover the real hardships that asylum seekers face. BEACON was set up out of a shared concern to address the practical and spiritual needs of the many asylum seekers and refugees who now live in the Bradford district. It is an ecumenical response to fulfil the Biblical injunction to welcome the stranger, but seeks to work with other faith groups and secular agencies to offer care and support to asylum seekers. Our meetings are well attended by Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics and Quakers, including people involved with BIASAN (Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support and Advice Network), Bradford Action for Refugees and the Red Cross. Most of the people attending have come to know asylum seekers and refugees and can see the urgent need for the churches of Bradford to work together in responding to their needs.
WHY A CHURCHES’ ORGANISATION?
- BEACON co-operates with other Bradford Asylum Groups and is not in competition with them – many of our key people are involved in them and and keep us informed about their activities on a week by week basis
- BEACON can bring new resources into the Bradford Asylum scene by helping people make connections between their faith and Asylum issues.
- BEACON can draw upon human and financial resources in every part of Bradford Met where churches have ready-made channels for linking inner and outer areas.
- BEACON provides churches with stories and prayer resources which can contribute to their worship and spiritual life. Some have found their fellowship life renewed by an influx of Asylum Seekers.
- BEACON encourages churches to draw upon the experiences and spirituality of Christian Asylum Seekers from many different parts of the world.
- BEACON can make use of Interfaith networks in its work.
HOW DOES BEACON WORK?
BEACON is a registered Charity which is funded through voluntary donations from individuals, churches and groups. BEACON has also receives funding from Seedbed. It has an Executive Committee, which was elected from BEACON membership in July 2007, to deal with the employment of a Development Worker. This role has now evolved into the position of Coordinator.