What are Quakers doing?

Quakers are involved in many ways to address concerns  relating to the asylum process, and in a variety of different ways to welcome and bring some relief to those people who are subjected to these processes. 

Extract from our Survey of Friends’ asylum and refugee work in Britain Yearly Meeting in 2007

In June 2007, the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network decided to conduct a survey of Quaker Meetings to try to build a picture of the work done by Friends in support of asylum-seekers and refugees. All PMs were sent a copy of a questionnaire and, as well as this, many meetings were sent e-mails. The letter pages of The Friend were also used to encourage responses.

The members of the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network are aware that the  activities listed below are likely to be an under-estimate of the level of Quaker activity in this area.

The main type of activities are listed below along with the number of times they were mentioned in the reports:

Befriending 20

Conversation and social activities (including holidays) 13

Asylum seekers supported by meeting 7

Provision of  mid-, long-term or emergency accommodation 7

Fundraising and financial support 24

Collecting items 9

Meeting House used 8

Teaching English 6

Visiting detention centres (including airports)  10

Accompanying asylum seekers to court 2

Political activity  13

Awareness-raising amongst Friends 2

Regular public witness 1

Ecumenical & interfaith activities 13

Trustee / board member in asylum-related charity 5

Action in other pressure groups and charities 27

Employment (including legal) 9

Work related to asylum-seekers’/refugees’ health (physical and mental) 8

Publicity (photography project) 1

Local campaigning 1

Some examples of Quaker activity:

Some meetings in rural areas provide short breaks and holidays for asylum-seekers. One meeting hosts an annual summer party on the beach.

Meetings which are based near detention centres (including airports) make regular visits to support the detainees.

Several Friends have a great deal of individual professional expertise. One Friend has written 35 expert opinions on asylum cases, and others have been active in setting up and running advice centres.

One meeting has maintained a fortnightly vigil in support of asylum-seekers outside the local cathedral since November 2006, with some support from other churches.

Several meetings have befriended individual asylum-seekers, used the meeting house for accommodation, and accompanied them when they need to sign on or attend court.

Several Friends are committee members or trustees of organisations which support asylum-seekers and refugees.

Several Friends offer short-term or long-term accommodation to asylum-seekers in their homes.

One meeting has supported a Friend who has invested in two houses in their city to be used for accommodation for asylum-seekers. Meeting has helped by providing furniture and equipment and paying utilities bills.

Two meetings are involved in “City of Sanctuary” projects.

One meeting provides a library for the local Refugee Centre and Peace House.

We received supportive comments from some Meetings which do not have asylum-seekers in their geographical area. We would like to suggest to those Meetings that they can perform a valuable service by keeping themselves informed of developments and writing to their MPs and other decision-makers.

It is the intention of the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network to produce a directory of the main Quaker activities throughout our Yearly Meeting. This is an ongoing project and will be undertaken in consultation with Local Meetings. Those meetings or individuals who are willing to have their details included in such a directory should reply to our e-mail address info@qarn.org.uk.