This is the contents of the accompanying document linked with the Pastoral Letter from His Grace the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley.
. Anyone who is new to a community values a welcome. I ask parishes to identify a member of the congregation who is willing to be a named contact for each parish.
. I also ask if there are others in the parish whom this named contact can call upon to help provide services in support of those in need. Newcomers in great need value specialist services, someone to help them learn English or to improve the English-speaking skills which they have. They also need someone who will guide them to know where the necessary statutory services are: the GPs, the schools, advice services, and to accompany them if necessary.
. To know if a parish has any suggestions about property that could be used short or long-term to accommodate those who are destitute. While the local authority will provide accommodation for some, there are others that the Church can assist, even in the short term.
. It should be stressed that we are in a period of trying to prepare ourselves. It is possible that some of those who offer their time and skills may not be called upon immediately or for some time. I ask for your patience in this: we have to be sure that we have what is necessary if we are to begin and complete an offer of support.
. I am suggesting that a special collection be taken up on a weekend before the end of November to be determined by each parish but avoiding established collections. This money will be used purely to respond to the needs of the many asylum seekers and refugees already in our Archdiocese and it will be distributed wisely through Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham.
(Father Hudson’s Care has agreed to handle this money, but want to make it clear that they are just holding it for Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham. It will not represent part of their funds.)
. In Advent I would ask all the parishes to consider whether to have a collection of non-perishable food that can be shared out amongst all the diocesan agencies who work daily with destitute asylum seekers and refugees. This would involve some organisation but is I think achievable.
. I must add that while we as a Catholic diocese are seeking to respond in this way we are always keen to work wherever possible ecumenically, with other faiths, and with other agencies who share a similar desire to help.
Father Hudson’s Care can be contacted on:
Father Hudson’s Care
St George’s House
Telephone: 01675 434000
If you would like a hard copy of this please contact us via the parish website.