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Looking for a Home?

Responding to refugees and people seeking asylum here in the UK

by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To highlight the difficulties of daily life for many refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and to consider the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Looking for a Home?) and the means to display them.

  • More information about the Jesuit Refugee Service is available at: https://www.jrsuk.net/

Assembly

  1. Have Slide 1 showing as the students enter the room.

    Explain that today’s assembly is going to consider an important question: ‘How do we respond to refugees and people seeking asylum here in the UK?

  2. Ask the students what image appears in their mind when they think of refugees and asylum seekers.

    Show Slide 2.

    Ask the following questions.

    - How do we see refugees and asylum seekers?
    - What images or narratives do we see on TV, in newspapers or on social media?

    Click through Slide 2 to reveal some examples of negative newspaper headlines, followed by some positive images of people welcoming refugees at German train stations, or buying items for charities at the Choose Love pop-up store in London before Christmas. Explain that there are many contrasting views on refugees and asylum seekers.

  3. Ask the students whether they think that we see refugees and asylum seekers as a problem to be dealt with or as people who have the same unique personalities, hopes and dreams as we all have.

    Pause to allow time for thought.

  4. Show Slides 3-4 and read out the definitions.

    These definitions should help the students to understand some of the complex language and distinctions that are used in discussions about people who are seeking safety.

    Encourage the students to understand these distinctions.

  5. Show Slides 5-7 in turn.

    Ask the questions shown on the slides and ask the students to indicate their answers by raising their hand. When you reveal the correct answer, explain it with the following details.

    - Slide 5. There are 25.4 million refugees worldwide. If we add to this about 40 million internally displaced people (those who have fled their homes, but remain in their home countries) and 3.1 million asylum seekers, we get a total of 68.5 million people worldwide, which is roughly the same as the population of the UK.
    Slide 6. Turkey hosts 3.5 million refugees. Pakistan and Uganda host the next largest number of refugees, with 1.4 million. Lebanon hosts approximately 1 million refugees despite having a population of 6 million, which means that one in six people in Lebanon are refugees. Some of us probably expected Germany to be named as hosting many refugees because there has been a lot of information in the media about the German people welcoming refugees. However, 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries. The question needs to be asked, ‘Are we richer countries doing enough?’
    Slide 7. Explain that 33,500 people came to seek asylum in the UK in 2017. Thats around one-third of the number of people who can fit into Wembley Stadium for an FA Cup Final, a tiny number compared to the population of the UK.
    Many of these asylum seekers have difficult lives here in the UK. When someone arrives claiming asylum in the UK, they will receive some accommodation and £37.75 a week to live on. Life can be very difficult if someone is struggling to get a positive result from their asylum claim. 

  6. Show Slide 8.

    Explain that for the refugee friends at the Jesuit Refugee Service, life can be hard because they often have their first asylum claim refused. At this point, the government stops the small amount of financial support that they receive and they are evicted from their accommodation. Not being able to work means that they are made destitute and have to rely on friends, family and charities like JRS UK for support, just to survive.

    Here is a quotation from a refugee friend who has experienced this problem.

    Read out the quotation on the slide.


  7. Show Slide 9.

    Those who attend JRS UK’s weekly day centre in East London receive travel money so that they can access important legal and medical appointments, emergency mini-grants for newly destitute individuals and a healthy, warm lunch.

    The JRS UK Day Centre is a safe space to rest, get referrals to key services and meet friends over a cup of tea or coffee. Each month, JRS UK gives out over 240 packs of toiletries and often distributes clothing and food parcels.

  8. Show Slide 10.

    Explain that having no money or support means that refugees are at very high risk of street homelessness.

    Here is a quotation from another refugee friend who has experienced time sleeping on the streets.

    Read out the quotation on the slide.

  9. In January, JRS UK published ‘Out in the Cold’, a report based on surveys that were conducted at its day centre. The report found that:

    - 47 per cent of refugees do not have a regular place to sleep
    - 62 per cent of refugees have been street homeless in the last year
    - 42 per cent of refugees do not feel comfortable around the people they stay with

  10. Show Slide 11.

    JRS UK runs a hosting scheme called ‘At Home’, which arranges three-month accommodation placements for people in desperate need. This hospitality makes a huge difference. Ask the students to think about how much a person’s health and wellbeing would improve in a home that is warm, safe and has facilities to allow someone to care for themselves adequately.

Time for reflection

Show Slide 12.

Encourage the students to spend some moments in silence to reflect upon what they have heard.

Ask the students, ‘How would you feel if you were in this position?’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students what action they might want to take to help change things for refugees and asylum seekers.

Show Slide 13.

Challenge the students to find out more about the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service. More information is available at: https://www.jrsuk.net/

Prayer
Dear God,
Give us courage to accompany others, for in walking at their side, we find you there present with us.
Give us joy that we might serve others, for in tending the wounds of those who suffer, we sense your healing grace at work in us.
Give us wisdom as we advocate for others, for in defending the downtrodden, we hear your voice speak for us.
Grant that in all we do, we may give you glory; we return all we have in love to you, for you have given everything to us.
Amen.

Publication date: June 2019   (Vol.21 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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