Information about Refugees, Migrants and Displaced people, and the South East District. 

 

The South East District of the Methodist Church includes all the Kent and Sussex coastline, and the airports of Gatwick and Heathrow.  In addition, the Mediterranean islands of Gibraltar and Malta (where many seek access to Europe) are part of our district.   

 

The challenges

Gatwick and Heathrow airports have received many of the people on government resettlement schemes from Syria, Hong Kong and Afghanistan.  Outside of these schemes, Gibraltar and Malta and our (district) coastline provide extensive opportunities for those seeking refuge.   

Such challenges are not new but are certainly making headlines again in 2022.  Over the years, our beaches have frequently been the first place in Britain to provide solid ground for those making this hazardous journey.  Cobham Services on the M25 in our district often provides the first daylight and fresh air for those entering the United Kingdom in lorries from Europe.

 

WHO MAKES SUCH JOURNEYS AND WHY? 

Behind every application for asylum is a real person, whose experiences are individual to them, and who has embarked on a harrowing journey out of desperation.  Many have heard that Britain is a country of wealth and opportunity. 

Contrary to popular belief, accepted statistics do not place the UK high in world rankings for receiving refugees and treating them well.  In reality, our nations still host less than one percent of the world’s refugees.  Most would say that the system is dehumanising and that they are made to feel unwelcome along the way, often being treated as a criminal or worse. 

In England, those registered as seeking asylum receive a meagre £8 per day as an allowance, and are unable to seek work, dependent on handouts and the generosity of those they meet.  Children are frequently unable to study within our systems.  Asylum applications can take years to process and most find themselves in unsuitable or uninhabitable accommodation during this time.  They are very much at risk of being entrapped into modern slavery. 

Words can be emotive and are frequently misused within the context of migrants, refugees and displaced people.  When a person is forced to flee their own home usually in response to war, or famine, they may be referred to in general as a displaced person.  Under this heading, some people might have been forced to move within their own country (internally displaced), or, like those reaching our shores, will have inevitably have been displaced as a result of need or conflict. 

For further information about the national picture and the internationally recognised definition of refugee, as well as clarification on the difference between asylum seeker and migrant, please see Domenica Pecoraro’s contribution  to our Sustaining Hope networking morning from October 2022.

The South East District response:

For several years, the district has sought to ensure that we are informed and supported in this work, and in 2021 a newly retired Supernumerary minister, who had recently moved into the South East district was asked to take this on as a voluntary part-time role.  She was glad to agree.

 

  Rev Hazel Forecast is the South East District Refugee, Displaced Persons & Migrant Officer.  

Hazel introduces herself in her own words ...  I was ordained as a Presbyter in the Methodist Church in 1987.  Much of my Circuit ministry was in very ethnically diverse, urban and inner urban areas and churches: in Dagenham (where Circuit boundaries changed 4 times in 6 years!); in the Broomwood & Clapham Circuit; and in the Thames Valley Circuit.  For the last 9 of these years I was a Superintendent minister.  In 2009 I stepped back from Presbyteral ministry for two years and taught English as a Foreign Language, mainly to adults, in Sardinia.  Returning to Circuit work, I served for a further 9 years in Hackney & Stoke Newington.  I became a Supernumerary minister in 2020 and now live and worship in Redhill.  I enjoy walking in the countryside, creating a garden I can hopefully tend for many years to come, music, dance, reading and recovering the various languages I have learnt over the years- and having ample time to spend with family and friends in the UK and around the world. 

 

ABOUT THE WORK

Hazel’s role is to provide advice, encouragement and support across the District in the area of work and ministry with refugees, displaced persons and migrants. She has already established contacts across a number of the circuits in our district, as well as with ecumenical refugee officers and others employed in a wide range of different contexts in Surrey, Sussex and Kent. 

 

Please continue to visit this page and check for updates, but also please let Hazel know of work happening in your area so you can help to inform colleagues in the South East District.  In turn this will help improve the wider networking opportunities, and enable others to share information about what is happening! 

 

We will also post information about training sessions which might be of interest, and plan to begin to add to the resource lists for both national agencies and those in our district.

- National Agencies and website links   word \ pdf

- Local Support Networks & Organisations   word \ pdf

 

FIND OUT MORE

Networking Days – SUSTAINING HOPE

These are an opportunity for those already involved or considering getting involved in supporting refugees, migrants and displaced persons in South East District to learn more about what is going on. 

Report on Sustaining Hope events

25 May 2022           word / pdf

26 October 2022      word / pdf

Upcoming Sustaining Hope events: 

29 April 2023          pdf

 

 

 

 

WHAT NEXT….